Most filmmakers try to avoid the dreaded NC-17 classification as the plague. It has long been considered the kiss of death, discouraging the public and eliciting negative connotations. The NC-17 rating replaced the equally poor “X rating” in 1990 and has been a subject of controversy for viewers at large ever since.

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For many film buffs, however, the NC-17 rating is a point of interest and even a badge of honor. It’s incredibly rare for mainstream movies to get slapped with rating, so when movies do, it generates quite a bit of curiosity around them. Regardless of the label, American culture is still obsessed with the forbidden, the sexual and the shocking, and NC-17 movies will always have a prominent place in the movie business with some incredible stories.

The following article contains references to sexual assault: reader discretion is advised.


10/10 ‘Blonde’ (2022)

Being the most recent NC-17 movie released in the United States, by Andrea Dominick blonde has been the subject of scrutiny and titles for months. A lot of controversial interviews with the director and cast accompanied the release of the film and only exacerbated the focus of the explicit rating.

While the film struggles with the message it sends with its excessive nudity, there are many moments of promise in this NC-17 film. There are little sparkles of brilliance all over the place, as well as a sensual, dreamy blur between reality and fiction. It is almost impossible to tell Ana de Armas in addition to Marilyn Monroe as the film moves through the epic and depraved rise to fame of Hollywood’s most beloved actress.

9/10 ‘Midnight Cowboy’ (1969)

Midnight Cowboy was released decades before the NC-17 rating was added to the Motion Picture Association’s movie rating system. However, he was struck by the equally controversial X-rating during his release due to the homosexual content. Despite the label, the film won Best Picture at the Academy Awards and remains the only X-rated film to do so.

Over time, Midnight Cowboy it was eventually reduced to an R rating, which fits better. The film follows Texan Joe Buck, played by Jon Voight, as he makes his way through vibrant New York City. Thinking that when he gets there he will bond with a wealthy widow, his he appeal to women is not as compelling as he once thought and he teams up with a sick man.

8/10 ‘Killer Joe’ (2011)

The killer Joe follows a policeman who turns out to be a hitman. Played by Matteo McConaughey, killer Joe Cooper agrees to kill the hated mother of a desperate drug dealer in exchange for the man’s virginal sister. The phrase “corrupt cop” takes on a whole new meaning William FriedkinThe brilliant display of wild emotions and misplaced false morality.

The killer Joe remains one of the most criminally underrated films of all time. The psychosexual crime film was slapped with the NC-17 rating due to its excessive nudity, gory violence, and disturbing depictions of psychological abuse. Despite the heavy argument, the film excels as a tale of a Southern Gothic trailer park, with unstable characters convinced that they are doing good in the world.

7/10 “A Clockwork Orange” (1971)

As one of the most iconic X-rated films in the history of cinema, A Clockwork Orange it truly lives up to its name. The film’s rating was eventually reduced to an R, but not without a price. The new theatrical release replaced 31 seconds of the original, with fewer orgy and assault scenes.

Despite its disturbing content, A Clockwork Orange remains between by Stanley Kubrick best movies. The film is heartbreaking and difficult to watch, as it follows Alex’s character and his lewd love of violence. After finally being jailed for his unrest, she agrees to change his behavior to earn his release from prison, only to become a victim himself.

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6/10 ‘Man Bites the Dog’ (1992)

In this mockumentary black comedy, the activities of an enraged serial killer named Ben (Benoît Poelvoorde) are recorded by a group of voluntarily complicit documentary makers. While Ben provides comments on the nature of his “work”, the team eventually becomes his accomplices and active participants in his crimes.

There is no real way to describe why the film was awarded an NC-17 rating without going into the details of the horrifically graphic violence presented in the film. But critics also acknowledge his intelligent and inspiring messages, as how a morally gray journalist’s obligation to be “objective” could override the natural human urge to intervene in a dire situation.

5/10 ‘Bad Lieutenant’ (1992)

It is not a surprise Harvey KeitelThe crime thriller was the first film ever to be hit with the NC-17 rating after the MPAA included it. The film is filled with sexual violence, explicit dialogue and drug use. Hollywood is full of numerous crime films, but Abele FerraraThe foray into the genre never airs while studying a man at the mercy of some of humanity’s worst impulses.

The film follows the lieutenant, a corrupt, debt-ridden cop who uses his authority to sexually harass teenage girls, abuse drugs and steal money. His troubled life comes to a head when the crowd tells him to pay off his debts; or other. The lieutenant learns of a reward for capturing two men who attacked a nun and takes the opportunity for the money.

4/10 ‘Shame’ (2011)

Shame it was a crucial role in his career Michael Fassbender for a multitude of reasons: his superb acting talent, his unparalleled screen presence, enough charisma and terror to bring even the strongest to their knees and, of course, complete frontal nudity. The latter of which helped this film get an NC-17 rating.

The film earned the rating due to its very explicit sexual content, which is fair. There is a lot of direct sexuality as the film follows successful and attractive New Yorker Brandon. He seems to be living a normal life, but underneath it all he hides the secret of being a drug addict. His constant need for gratification begins to numb him in the face of everything in his life.

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3/10 ‘Y tu mamá también’ (2001)

Like many seventeen-year-olds, Julio’s life (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) are governed by unleashed hormones, sexual thoughts and intense relationships. Y tu mamá también follows two best friends over the course of an unforgettable summer where they have a carefree adventure across the country with an older woman (Maribel Verdu).

The boys and the woman form many deep connections, but the film’s rating comes from the explicit nudity and sexual content. It’s also quite crazy to think about how the director, Alfonso Cuarónhe continued directing to Harry Potter film right after this NC-17 training gem.

2/10 ‘The Devils’ (1971)

The devils take place in the beautiful setting of 17th century France. Father Grandier (Oliver Reed) is a priest whose heretical views on sex and religion influence a passionate following of sex-obsessed nuns. Power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Logue) realizes he has to eliminate Grandier to gain control of France, though. And so Richelieu portrays the priest as a Satanist to spread public protest and ruin his beloved reputation.

The devils it is simply a benchmark in cinema, even with its NC-17 classification. It is based on real historical events surrounding Urbain Grandier, who was executed. The film was heavily edited before its release, however, removing graphic scenes that mixed sex and violence with Christian rituals and religious objects.

1/10 ‘Mysterious Skin’ (2004)

As a significant part of the New Queer Cinema movement, Greg Araki it is no stranger to queer teens, explicit sexual content and some of the most serious problems in LGBT + culture. Not only has he helped shape queer cinema, but his directing style is also incredibly bold and dripping with punk style.

Mysterious skin received an NC-17 rating for its strong use of profanity, sexual and drug content, and nudity. The film tells the story of Brian (Brady Corbetto) and Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the former who is sexually abused and obsessed with UFOs as a way to suppress it, and the latter who engages in drug dealing to deal with his childhood trauma.

KEEP READING: Films that narrowly avoided the NC-17 rating

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