Tuesday, August 23, 2016

10 Sexiest Female Performances in Film.

I just unleashed my inner Kevin Spacey in American Beauty / Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street. Spoiler alert: I wasn't thinking about Mena Suvari or Margot Robbie when carrying out the act.

Aaaaaaaaanyway, that line of cryptic 12A-rated innuendo (the kind of innuendo this blog specialises in) is basically the perfect gateway for me to list my top 10 sexiest female performances in movies, as both Mena and Margot grace said list. What follows are 10 ladies who, in my eyes, just oozed sex appeal in their cinematic turns. So much sex appeal that it had me questioning my preferences, in fact.

Basically this is an excuses for me to fawn over my girlcrushes, old and new. I'm a tad transparent.

10. Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch
Marilyn Monroe's character in The Seven Year Itch doesn't even have a proper name; she's just called 'The Girl', in Billy Wilder's playful comedy about a married man who's wife and son leave town he finds himself more than a little tempted when his gorgeous neighbour falls, quite literally, into his lap. 

The Girl is a role which makes the most of Marilyn Monroe’s god-given physical assets, and the scene where a gust of wind from the subway grate blows her dress is still, to this day, one of the most iconic in film.  
(I even bought a dress of my own because I thought it looked a bit like the one Marilyn wore in this film haha. I snagged a photo with Arsenal’s captain, Per Mertesacker, in it, so there you go! I have Marilyn Monroe to thank for that).

09. Eva Green, Casino Royale

Eva Green’s breakthrough role came in Martin Campbell’s reboot of the 007 franchise, and she was handed a formidable task: to play the woman who steals James Bond’s heart, and her ensuing breaking of it leads to his womanising ways. 

Green is completely up to the challenge. Her (apropos, given her surname) bewitching emerald eyes are absolutely stunning, and her natural beauty is enhanced by a cleavage-bearing wardrobe and some lines so smooth they would put the spy she seduces to shame.

08. Kristen Stewart, On the Road 
Despite the common consensus that Kristen Stewart is a terrible actress, I actually disagree. I don’t think she’s bad (that’s a descriptive that is reserved for the likes of Emma Watson and Cara Delevingne), rather, just limited in the roles she can play, but if handed one that plays to her strengths, as the part of Marylou in On the Road does, she excels (her performance in this film actually made my top 10 acting performances of 2012 list).

Here, she’s the flighty, up for it sexpot with a libertine spirit to match travelling companion and sort-of boyfriend Dean Moriarty’s (Garrett Hedlund), a car thief who has a few wives he’s casually abandoned up and down the country to go on a road trip to nowhere in particular.

The story is told from Dean’s friend Sal Paradise (Sam Riley)'s P.O.V, and it’s quite apparent he fancies the fascinating Marylou to pieces. His crush on his mate’s missus is mirrored by the audience, and the illicit boiling pot of emotions and urges makes for a fascinating, erotically charged journey with the three friends.

07. Ziyi Zhang, 2046
The sort-of-but-not-quite sequel to In the Mood for Love sees Tony Leung's Chow Mo-wan, having had his heart broken in the previous film, deciding that the best way to forget his ex is by having meaningless sex... and lots of it. 

One of these notches on his bedpost is Ziyi Zhang's Bai Ling, a flirtatious high-class call girl who's forward exterior masks inner vulnerability and, as with the vast majority of girls, a need to be loved. 

This need is not satisfied by Chow, who regards all womankind with contempt following his ordeal in In the Mood for Love. Ziyi Zhang is exceptional; the perfect illustration of a person who lets their walls down in the  misguided hope that the object of their affections will reciprocate their affections. 

The sensual 2046 has a distinctly otherwordly feel, but the emotional honesty of Ziyi's performance renders the experience a very human one. 

06. Mena Suvari, American Beauty 
Ah, the modern day Lolita.

American Beauty, Sam Mendes' masterpiece about middle-aged malaise, sits just outside of my top ten films of all-time, and is my favourite 18-rated film. It follows Kevin Spacey's Lester Burnham, a sexually frustrated man trapped in a loveless marriage, has a job he despises and a teenage daughter who hates his guts.

So far, so White People Problems. But one day, attending his daughter's cheerleading recital, his head is turned by her nubile friend Angela (Mena Suvari). He soon becomes obsessed with Angela, and spends many a night fantasizing about her covered in rose petals, both a literal ('American Beauty' is a breed of rose) and metaphorical representation of the title of the film.

Mena Suvari is stunning in this film. Looks-wise, you can definitely see why a middle-aged bloke would lust after her, especially when she gets predatory around Lester. I read the script to American Beauty because I was just so enamored with Alan Ball's excellent writing in it, and the screenplay described her as 'blonde, blue-eyed, all-American girl', and to that end, Suvari certainly fits the bill. But as the film goes on, we learn that she, like Ziyi Zhang in 2046, is overcompensating for something with her coquettish behaviour. Insecurity, perhaps. Or just a desperation to feel 'special'.

I find this element of fragility in female characters fascinating. To quote Lana del Rey, 'this is what makes us girls'. American Beauty is a sensational film because whilst it has the naughty stuff, this is counterbalanced by a very astute observation that behind bold sexual exterior, Angela is still a delicate girl. 

05. Rita Hayworth, Gilda 
The second character on this list who was one of Tim Robbins' Andy's posters in his prison wall in The Shawshank Redemption!

Rita Hayworth's vampish Gilda shimmies across the stage in a wide range of figure-hugging silk dresses, her curves accentuated with shiny, bold belts. Her performance outshines ever the sparkliness of her belts, as she exudes sultry elegance in every frame. Her character is jaded, cynical and has no qualms with using and abusing any men she comes across, but one smouldering look from her and it's not hard to see why she has men going gaga for her. Her chemistry with Glenn Ford's Johnny (who, in a classic display of life imitating art, she would later bed in real life) is sizzling and their exchanges demonstrate perfectly that fine line between love, hate, and how easy it is for the two to fuse.

Game-playing  Battle of the Sexes has never looked so good.

04. Mila Kunis, Black Swan
I wasn't a huge fan of Darren Aronofsky's bloated drama Black Swan, about Nina (Natalie Portman), a ballerina who would do anything to get the lead in the production of Swan Lake. But Mila Kunis is a complete babe in it. Nina's ballet instructor, played with brilliant sliminess by Vincent Cassel, tells her to become a better dancer, she needs to embrace her immoral side, pointing her in the direction of Mila Kunis' Lily.

Lily is viewed through Nina's jealous gaze, and we come to regard her in the same light as the protagonist: with a combination of envy, annoyance and morbidly curious lust. The latter comes to a fore when the two, on an ecstasy trip, make love, in one of the most erotically charged sex scenes in cinema, where at one point, Kunis, with her head between Portman's legs, looks up at her lover, and her big hazel eyes look absolutely amazing.

Building up to that scene, like Nina, are drawn to Lily, wanting to find out more about her, whilst not letting on that we've got her on our radar. The curious casting of Portman and Kunis, who don't look dissimilar, really brings out the difference in their two personalities; Nina, the obsessive-compulsive who is obsessed with getting every piece of choreography down to a T, and Lily, who is more than happy to live her life and go where the wind blows and isn't really fussed about dancing, which paradoxically, gives her dancing a quality that Nina's lacks.

Furthermore, what I thought was clever about Kunis' portrayal of Lily is that she presents her character as appearing to be a friendly, fun-loving girl, yet Nina feels completely and utterly threatened by her. Whether this discomfort towards Lily is justified, or a product of Nina's deteriorating mental condition, well, that forms much of the basis of the trippy, second-guessing vibes of Black Swan. And I've definitely been there in terms of having a girl I'm both intimidated by, yet am also in weird awe of.

Mila Kunis has been a staple on my yearly girlcrush lists. She looks incredible in every film I've seen her in (Forgetting Sarah MarshallFriends with BenefitsTed to name a few titles), but in Black Swan there's a darkness to her performance and character that elevates her sex appeal to an 11.

03. Emmanuelle Béart, Manon des Sources
In Manon des Sources, Béart's Manon has elements of Amy Dunne, in that her character is principally motivated by revenge, for the mistreatment her father received from Yves Montand's character that led him to pass before his time. But unlike Amy, she's a rather more genteel presence and ultimately, such is her natural grace and poise, that revenge doesn't consume her. 

The enchanting Manon is perved on by the dim-witted nephew of her enemy, played by Daniel Auteuil (whom Béart would marry in real life in 1993) in one scene, where she dances naked, and unlike most nude scenes in films, it's an innocuous scene, where Manon is completely at one with nature.

Emmanuelle Béart has played more sexual characters in plenty of other films, but her natural prettiness, and the slightly unusual quality to her looks made her a great fit for the role of shepherdess, and hence is my chosen entrant on this list. One would expect such a photogenetic woman to be too glamorous for such a role, but Béart sells it.

02. Linda Fiorentino, The Last Seduction
No list of Sexiest women in movies would be complete without the quintessential femme fatale!

20 years before Rosamund Pike bought Amy Dunne to life, Linda Fiorentino blazed the trail for conniving cows in cinema. If Ziyi Zhang and Mena Suvari's characters are summed up by the Lana del Rey song 'This is What Makes Us Girls', Fiorentino's anthem would be 'I Fucked My way Up to the Top'.

Her Bridget Gregory knows what she want and boy, does she know how to get it. Her cavalier attitude to sex is both scandalous and titillating 22 years on, never mind back in 1994, but watching her calculated sexuality is a real ride. And I'm not just talking about the all the dicks she rides.  

Her man-eating ways are epitomised in this oh-so-cool exchange, made all the more audacious given it takes place just after she's screwed her next hapless prey, thirsty Mike (Peter Berg) against a fence.

Bridget Gregory: You're my designated fuck.
Mike Swale: Designated fuck? Do they make cards for that? What if I want to be more than your designated fuck?
Bridget Gregory: Then I'll designate someone else. 


01. Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street

A blonde bombshell opened the list, so it seems only apropos that a blond bombshell closes it!

It makes sense, that in The Wolf of Wall Street, a film about excess: the excess of money, cocaine, hookers, Leonardo DiCaprio's eponymous Wolf, Jordan Belfort, should get the hottest wife.

But Margot isn't just the hottest woman in the movie. She's the hottest woman in all movies.

When Margot walked across the screen in The Wolf of Wall Street wearing nothing but stockings and stilettos, my jaw dropped; I'd never seen such an unabashed, untamed display of female sexuality on the screen before. 

Her sleek body was, and still is, the most perfect example of the female form I've ever seen. Slim waist, long, tanned legs, sun-kissed skin. Then there's the face: huge yet distinctively cat-shaped eyes, lips you could nibble on all day (her juicy lips were particularly prominent in smudged red lipstick in Suicide Squad, too)... unf. 

Margot Robbie was only 22 years old when she filmed The Wolf of Wall Street, and it was quite daring for her to bare all in her first established film role, but both she and savvy film director Martin Scorsese (my favourite film director, just so you know) knew what they was doing.

In fact, in the end, it wasn't so much a question of whether Margot could handle a full-frontal nudity scene.

The real question is whether we handle her.

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