Top 50 Best NC-17 Movies Of All Time

top 50 best nc-17 movies of all time [2023]


There are several examples to show that some films that originally hit the cinemas classed NC-17 have been re-edited and re-rated for the viewers today.


While some of them may not be rated NC-17 anymore, others continue to hold on to their ratings for reasons far too obvious.


First and foremost, one should be aware of the fact that some motion pictures that are certified NC-17 are also quite prominent within the cinematic universe.


Needless to say, NC-17 movies have continued to grab the attention of film buffs across the globe for reasons one too many.


It was in 1990 when the MPAA (The Motion Picture Association of America) decided to replace the X rating with NC-17.


The reason behind this call was that X had started to rapidly become synonymous with the world of pornography. Therefore, the NC-17 rating soon made its way to the mainstream.


The rating is assigned by the Motion Picture Association of America and signifies that people who are 17 years or below will not be allowed to enter the cinemas to catch an NC-17 movie.


Basically, the rating allows only adults to be admitted to the theatre.


That being said, it must be understood that some truly watchable movies have also received an NC-17 rating over the years. However, a few of them have been resubmitted to get a lesser rating; perhaps to get access to people of different age groups.


So, as you’d have guessed by now, we have fetched you a story on some of the finest flicks to have ever received the NC-17 or X rating.


While most of these projects hit the screens rated NC-17, some of them also went on to appeal to the board to get their ratings altered right before their theatrical outing.




1. A Clockwork Orange (1971)


a clockwork orange (1971)


This iconic X-rated movie is set in the future and tells the story of a sadistic gang leader who is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment. However, things do not go as originally planned.


While A Clockwork Orange received an X rating for its sexual violence, it was also eventually pulled from British theatres due to it being a possible incitement of copycat crimes.


One of the most controversial and, yet, acclaimed movies to make it to our story, it has the capability of making sane people crazy and the crazy people sane. Needless to say, it most certainly is disturbing to watch.


That being said, it is imperative to mention that it serves as a study of violence and sex in contemporary society. If you see it solely as a violent film that doesn’t have a lot to say, you may perhaps not be able to gauge its true meaning.




2. Perfect Blue (1997)


perfect blue (1997)


One of filmmaker Satoshi Kon’s most iconic films, Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller film that was rated NC-17 for the graphic violence, sexually explicit content, and disturbing scenes injected into its storytelling.


Even though it was an animated feature, it wasn’t suitable for a younger audience due to its portrayal of a horrific rape scene and many moments of bloodshed and violence.


The plot follows a singer who goes on to quit her band to accomplish her dream of becoming an actress. For the same, she has to let go of her “good girl” image to further her career.


The film managed to grab eyeballs upon its theatrical release due to the genuinely disturbing depiction of sexual violence; especially for its time. When you’re done watching it, you’ll know that it demands a deeper analysis.


It sure may be animated, but it is as real as any full-length feature can be.




3. Midnight Cowboy (1969)


midnight cowboy (1969)


Midnight Cowboy was released years before the NC-17 rating was officially added to the Motion Picture Association film rating system. Still, it was allotted the X-rating for its audacious depiction of LGBTQ+ content.


However, you’d be surprised to know that it is the only X-rated movie to have won Best Picture at the Academy Awards to date.


The plot follows a naive hustler who travels from Texas to New York City to seek personal fortune. Instead, he ends up finding a new friend.


Over time, this John Schlesinger directorial venture was dropped to an R rating, which many believe fits it better today. That being said, many critics have also started to look at this film as one that perfectly captures the essence of the underground New York film movement and brings it to the mainstream.


This brave and uniquely told tale can also be seen as a buddy film that can tend to get a tad dark at times.




4. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)


Y Tu Mamá También (2001)


This rip-roaring road movie, which has been diligently directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is not only set over the course of one summer but also against the backdrop of political turmoil in Mexico.


We catch two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embarking on a road trip across the country and learning a few critical things about life, friendship, sex, each other, and ultimately, themselves.


Their chaotic journey of discovery pays a fitting tribute to the laidback days of summer that carry the potential to exude a carefree feeling in all of us.


Perhaps what Cuarón wanted to tell us through this NC-17 feature was that one should be brave enough to explore true love, desire, and emotions sans inhibitions.



5. Blue Is The Warmest Colour (2013)


Blue Is The Warmest Colour (2013)


Blue is the Warmest Colour is one of the most influential lesbian movies to have hit the screens in the 21st century. It received the NC-17 rating due to its unapologetic depictions of sex.


The Abdellatif Kechiche directorial venture traces the journey of a young woman named Adele, who seems to be confused about her sexuality.


Soon after breaking up with her boyfriend, she chances upon and falls in love with an eccentric blue-haired art student, Emma.


The screenplay of the motion picture traces their relationship starting from Adèle’s high school years till the time she becomes a school teacher.


Based on Jul Maroh’s graphic novel of the same name, Blue is the Warmest Colour opened to widespread critical acclaim.


It was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language.


In addition, it won the Palme d’Or from the official jury and the FIPRESCI Prize; thus, becoming the first feature in history to win the Palme d’Or for both its director and lead actresses.



6. Happiness (1998)


Happiness (1998)


Entity Detail
Title Happiness
Release Year 1998
Watch time 134 min
Directors Todd Solondz
Cast Jane Adams, Jon Lovitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dylan Baker
Domestic Box office $2.81M
IMDb Rating 7.7
Metascore 81
Writers Todd Solondz
Music By Robbie Kondor
Cinematography By Maryse Alberti
Costume By Thérèse DePrez


This black comedy-drama film is one of the most acclaimed features to make it to our story today. It has been written and directed by Todd Solondz.


The story of this NC-17 motion picture follows the lives of three sisters, their families, and those around them, and talks about the desperate need for human connection in humans.


Despite the rating that it received, Happiness ended up winning the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998.


It was appreciated for its courageous display of controversial contemporary themes and visual style. In addition, the cast received the National Board of Review award for best ensemble performance.


World-famous movie critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and called it the fifth-best motion picture to have hit the screens in 1998.



7. The Devils (1971)


the devils (1971)


This historical drama film chronicles the journey of a Roman Catholic priest Father Urbain Grandier who is accused of witchcraft. The serious accusations have originated from Sister Jeanne des Anges, who happens to be a sexually repressed nun.


Co-written and helmed by Ken Russell, The Devils was heavily edited before it finally hit the screens in 1971. It went on to receive the NC-17 rating because it reportedly comprised graphic scenes that mixed sex and violence with Christian rituals and religious objects.


Needless to mention, quite a few of those sequences had to be edited out from the film to ensure that it made it to the cinemas. Having said that, some people who have seen this motion picture consider it to be a deliberately offensive project which is aimed at raising eyebrows.


Indeed, it is populated with stunning and provocative imagery that will certainly get you talking. The director’s efforts at showcasing events that may have truly happened can leave you appalled.



8. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)


South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)


Entity Detail
Title South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Release Year 1999
Watch time 81 min
Directors Trey Parker
Cast Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes
Domestic Box office $52.04M
IMDb Rating 7.7
Metascore 73
Writers Trey Parker
Music By Marc Shaiman
Cinematography By John Venzon
Costume By Adrien Beard


The only reason we are including South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut on this list is that it was allotted the NC-17 rating at least thrice, before toning down the profanity and sexual content in its storytelling to eventually be rated R.


The adult computer-animated musical comedy project was based on the animated sitcom South Park. It starred Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes, George Clooney, Eric Idle, and Mike Judge in crucial roles.


It tells the story of four boys who are called morally corrupt after having been caught watching an R-rated movie. Now, they are left with no option but to stop their parents from initiating a war-like crisis.



9. Mysterious Skin (2004)


Mysterious Skin (2004)


Entity Detail
Title Mysterious Skin
Release Year 2004
Watch time 105 min
Directors Gregg Araki
Cast Brady Corbet, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elisabeth Shue, Chase Ellison
Domestic Box office $0.70M
IMDb Rating 7.6
Metascore 73
Writers Gregg Araki
Music By Harold Budd Robin Guthrie
Cinematography By Steve Gainer
Costume By Devorah Herbert


Helmed for the screen by Gregg Araki, Mysterious Skin stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brady Corbet, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jeff Licon, Bill Sage, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Elisabeth Shue in significant roles.


The film premiered at the 61st Venice International Film Festival in 2004 and was adapted from Scott Heim’s novel of the same name.


The story follows two youngsters; one who is increasingly obsessed with UFOs, while the other who is a gay hustler; perhaps because he’d been left traumatized by his childhood.


The film was ultimately released without a rating in the United States of America after the MPAA gave it an NC-17 rating.



10. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)


The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)


Director Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover stars Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, and Alan Howard in significant roles.


It was among the first few films to have ever received the NC-17 rating. Before it hit the cinemas, the makers were given an option by the MPAA to either self-apply an X rating or settle with an ‘unrated’ release.


Greenaway brings to us one of the most unusual motion pictures ever made for The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is a crystal clear attempt at enmeshing Shakesperian tragedy with postmodern horror.


The story shows how a cook, a thief, and his wife unleash a stunning overflow of sex, food, murder, and vengeance as a sequence of events eventually tells the viewers about what’s transpiring and how.


The NC-17 rating of the film is justified given that it includes some really intense sex scenes.



11. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)


Boys Don't Cry (1999)


Entity Detail
Title Boys Don’t Cry
Release Year 1999
Watch time 118 min
Directors Kimberly Peirce
Cast Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III
Domestic Box office $11.53M
IMDb Rating 7.5
Metascore 86
Writers Kimberly Peirce
Music By Nathan Larson
Cinematography By Jim Denault
Costume By Michael Shaw


This biographical drama film has been helmed for the screen by director Kimberly Peirce. It features known actors such as Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III, Alicia Goranson, Jeannetta Arnette, and Matt McGrath in critical roles.


The screenplay traces the journey of a young transgender named Teena Brandon. After having acquired a male identity, Teena gets romantically involved with a single mother named Lana.


However, he is left with little option but to fib about his unsettling history and sex change. Boys Don’t Cry is a motion picture that deals with a lot of contentious issues.


That is precisely why it was originally allotted an NC-17 rating. However, the feature was later re-rated to R.



12. Santa Sangre (1989)


Santa Sangre (1989)


Santa Sangre, also known as Holy Blood’ in English, is an avant-garde surreal horror feature that has been co-written and helmed by Alejandro Jodorowsky.


The NC-17 motion picture stars Axel Jodorowsky, Adán Jodorowsky, Teo Jodorowsky, Blanca Guerra, Thelma Tixou, and Guy Stockwell in prominent roles.


It traces the journey of its central character named Fenix, who flees from a mental institution as a sequence of flashbacks familiarizes the viewers with his disturbing past.


Soon, Fenix rejoins his mother who is now leading a religious cult after having been left maimed by a vicious attack by his father.


A courageous and imaginative combination of horror and surrealism, this feature film would appeal to those who prefer the aforementioned attributes in what they see.



13. The Evil Dead (1981)


The Evil Dead (1981)


Entity Detail
Title The Evil Dead
Release Year 1981
Watch time 85 min
Directors Sam Raimi
Cast Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker
Domestic Box office $2.40M
IMDb Rating 7.5
Metascore 71
Writers Sam Raimi
Music By Joseph LoDuca
Cinematography By Tim Philo
Costume By Tom Sullivan


This supernatural horror film has been written and directed by Sam Raimi and has gone on to cement its place as one of the most significant cult horror movies of all time.


The story follows the journey of five friends who travel to a remote cabin in the woods to have a good time. However, all that starts well does not always end well.


This becomes evident when the visit of the friends unleashes demons that start possessing them one by one until only one of them is left fighting to live.


This NC-17 venture opened to universally positive reviews and went on to become one of the highest-grossing independent movies of all time.


Needless to say, The Evil Dead scared the viewers out of their wits post its release.



14. This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)


This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)


Since we have been discussing how some films have been awkwardly smacked with the NC-17 rating over the years, why not include a documentary that showcases just how absurd the MPAA’s rating system is?


This Film Is Not Yet Rated is a documentary that goes on to elucidate how the MPAA perhaps gives much harsher ratings to scenes of homosexual intimacy. Not only that but its investigations also reveal that it is harsher on depictions of female climax and pubic hair.


Thankfully, we get to see the interviews of a few filmmakers who had to fight the system for their respective releases. Since this feature aimed to cast a light on the workings of the rating system, the MPAA ended up slapping it with an NC-17 rating as well.



15. Man Bites Dog (1992)


Man Bites Dog (1992)


Whimsical, gruesome, and crazy, Man Bites Dog is one of those features that is too disturbing for most movie-goers out there. It is not surprising then that it was slapped with an NC-17 rating.


The story tracks the journey of a film crew that follows a ruthless thief and heartless killer as he goes about his daily routine. However, things get a bit too complicated when the crew lose their objectivity and ends up lending him a hand.


Written and directed by Benoît Poelvoorde, Rémy Belvaux, and André Bonzel, this motion picture was acknowledged for its smart and thought-provoking messages, despite its obvious rating.



16. Shame (2011)


Shame (2011)


Entity Detail
Title Shame
Release Year 2011
Watch time 101 min
Directors Steve McQueen
Cast Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Lucy Walters
Domestic Box office $4.00M
IMDb Rating 7.2
Metascore 72
Writers Steve McQueen
Music By Harry Escott
Cinematography By Sean Bobbitt
Costume By Judy Becker


Director Steve McQueen’s Shame stars Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in key roles.


Film buffs are aware of the fact that McQueen has gone on to cement his place as one of the most refined filmmakers of this generation.


His grasp of film technology is only aided by his writing and directorial abilities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his 2011 motion picture Shame. An incredibly difficult movie to both understand and digest, this NC-17 project shows Fassbender’s character to be a sex addict.


However, he fails to form personal relationships, which goes on to create a whole lot of trouble for him; especially after his sister ends up showing up unannounced at his doorstep.


A bold and complex projection of loneliness on celluloid, Shame enters a territory that not many conventional romantic dramas would ever dare to.


Needless to say, its theme warrants the use of a ton of intimate scenes and, thus, the NC-17 rating.



17. The Dreamers (2003)


The Dreamers (2003)


Entity Detail
Title The Dreamers
Release Year 2003
Watch time 115 min
Directors Bernardo Bertolucci
Cast Michael Pitt, Louis Garrel, Eva Green, Anna Chancellor
Domestic Box office $2.53M
IMDb Rating 7.2
Metascore 62
Writers Gilbert Adair
Music By Fabio Cianchetti
Cinematography By Jacopo Quadri
Costume By Pierre Duboisberranger


This acclaimed romantic drama is an international co-production by companies from France, the United Kingdom, and Italy, respectively.


The motion picture has been directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and is based on Gilbert Adair’s novel, “The Holy Innocents.” It is not surprising then that Gilbert Adair also went on to write the screenplay of this NC-17 feature.


The film tells the story of Theo and his sister Isabelle who feel at ease in their grand house while a majority of the students partake in the Paris revolution.


However, things undergo a dramatic and drastic change after the siblings adopt a student from California.


Described as “extraordinarily beautiful” by popular movie critic Roger Ebert, The Dreamers goes on to make numerous references to various movies of classical and French New Wave cinema.



18. Bent (1997)


Bent (1997)


This Sean Mathias directorial venture is a collaboration between the United Kingdom and Japan and is based on Martin Sherman’s 1979 play of the same name.


Sherman also wrote the screenplay for the film. It stars actors such as Lothaire Bluteau, Clive Owen, Brian Webber, Ian McKellen, and Mick Jagger in pivotal roles.


Set in 1930s Germany, this brutal feature revolves around the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany. It traces the journey of a gay Jew who is sent to a Nazi concentration camp.


Bent, which managed to garner an approval rating of 73 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, ended up winning the Best Feature Film in the Torino International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in the year 1998.



19. Female Trouble (1974)


Female Trouble (1974)


Entity Detail
Title Female Trouble
Release Year 1974
Watch time 89 min
Directors John Waters
Cast Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole
Domestic Box office
IMDb Rating 7.2
Writers John Waters
Music By John Waters
Cinematography By Charles Roggero John Waters
Costume By Van Smith


Helmed for the screen by John Waters, Female Trouble features actors such as Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, Cookie Mueller, Susan Walsh, and Michael Potter in critical roles.


The NC-17 feature gives an entirely different perspective to glamour and ensures that it comes across as grotesque at all times.


The story follows an obese woman, who, after giving birth to an “unpleasant” child, embarks upon a strange and excessively destructive life of crime.


Whether someone likes the movie or not, Female Trouble offers wicked pleasures that will never cease to satisfy the viewers who may be looking for the same in a film.



20. American Pie (1999)


American Pie (1999)


Entity Detail
Title American Pie
Release Year 1999
Watch time 95 min
Directors Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz
Cast Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Jennifer Coolidge
Domestic Box office $102.56M
IMDb Rating 7
Metascore 58
Writers Adam Herz
Music By David Lawrence
Cinematography By Richard Crudo
Costume By Paul Peters


The first film in the American Pie series was slapped with the NC-17 rating by the MPAA just before its theatrical outing. However, a couple of scenes were duly edited in order to avoid the rating.


The film features an ensemble cast that stars actors such as Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Alyson Hannigan, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Seann William Scott, and Eugene Levy in significant roles.


It tracks the journey of a group of friends who try their best to lose their virginity before the much-awaited prom night.


This coming-of-age sex comedy was a massive hit at the box office.



21. Bad Lieutenant (1992)


Bad Lieutenant (1992)


Entity Detail
Title Bad Lieutenant
Release Year 1992
Watch time 96 min
Directors Abel Ferrara
Cast Harvey Keitel, Brian McElroy, Frank Acciarito, Peggy Gormley
Domestic Box office $2.00M
IMDb Rating 7.1
Metascore 70
Writers Zoë Lund
Music By Joe Delia
Cinematography By Ken Kelsch
Costume By Stephanie Carroll


Originally rated NC-17, Bad Lieutenant was one of the first few motion pictures to be rated so because of the excessive portrayal of drug usage and violence in its storytelling.


The neo-noir crime film takes a deep dive into the dark world of police corruption.


It has been directed by Abel Ferrara and features Harvey Keitel as the titular “bad lieutenant.” Actors Victor Argo and Paul Calderón also star in supporting roles in this NC-17 feature that strives to examine themes of salvation and man’s linkage to his vices.


Indie film icon Keitel delivers a fantastic performance in the lead role. He plays an officer who has been given the duty to investigate a dreadful assault on a nun.


He goes about his job while trying to overcome his existential crisis. What is so special about this feature is the fact that its exceptionally gloomy feel is only furthered by its technicalities.


This, in turn, helps in making the drama come across as dark and unsettling at all times.


Needless to say, this motion picture is a cult classic and is also, definitely, one of the most audacious projects to have hit the screens during the 1990s.



22. Kids (1995)


Kids (1995)


Entity Detail
Title Kids
Release Year 1995
Watch time 91 min
Directors Larry Clark
Cast Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce, Chloë Sevigny, Sarah Henderson
Domestic Box office $7.42M
IMDb Rating 7.1
Metascore 63
Writers Harmony Korine
Music By Lou Barlow John Davis
Cinematography By Eric Alan Edwards
Costume By Kevin Thompson


Director Larry Clark’s indie drama Kids stars Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce, Chloë Sevigny, and Rosario Dawson in their respective film debuts.


The film originally received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, but, for some reason, it was released without a rating in the cinemas.


Nevertheless, we are still including this feature on our list courtesy of the fact that it caused enormous public debate over its artistic distinction.


The story tracks a day in the life of a group of teenagers as they travel around New York City drinking, skating, smoking, and getting intimate with virgins.



23. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)


Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)


Helmed by John McNaughton, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival in 1986 and was screened at other festivals throughout the late 1980s.


The story follows Henry, who, upon arriving in Chicago, moves in with his ex-con acquaintance Otis and starts training him in the ways of the serial killer.


While the motion picture opened to critical acclaim, it also garnered a ton of controversy following its many screenings throughout the ’80s.


The slasher film was rated X by the MPAA, which went on to increase its reputation for controversy.



24. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989)


Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989)


The evocative title of the motion picture suggests that it’s got to be an adult film by all means.


In it, we catch an unbalanced but alluring former mental patient taking a porn star prisoner in the hopes of convincing her to tie the knot with him.


Co-written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! was generally well-received by the Spanish critics.


The aggressive campaigning by its makers ensured that its X rating eventually converted to an NC-17.



25. Nymphomaniac (2013)


Nymphomaniac (2013)


Entity Detail
Title Nymphomaniac: Vol. I
Release Year 2013
Watch time 117 min
Directors Lars von Trier
Cast Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf
Domestic Box office $0.79M
IMDb Rating 6.9
Metascore 64
Writers Lars von Trier
Music By Manuel Alberto Claro
Cinematography By Morten Højbjerg Jacob Secher Schulsinger
Costume By Alexander Scherer


This erotic art feature has been written and directed for the screen by Lars von Trier.


It stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Uma Thurman, Jean-Marc Barr, Willem Dafoe, and Connie Nielsen in critical roles.


The story follows a self-diagnosed woman who is addicted to intimacy. She is seen narrating her erotic adventures to the man who has just protected her from a beating.


The uncut Volume I made its world premiere at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.


While the motion picture was given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA, the makers of the film decided to follow their will and, thus, released it unrated.



26. Last Tango in Paris (1972)


Last Tango in Paris (1972)


This Bernardo Bertolucci directorial venture features acting legend Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider, Maria Michi, Giovanna Galletti, Jean-Pierre Léaud, and Massimo Girotti in crucial roles.


This NC-17 title premiered at the New York Film Festival in late 1972 and ended up being the seventh highest-grossing motion picture of 1973.


The film tells the story of Paul, who is grieving the loss of his wife. Sooner than later, he chances upon a young Parisian woman named Jeanne and they both end up getting into a secret relationship.


However, things soon go wrong for Paul as he puts his life in danger after he shares his private details with her. Last Tango in Paris became prone to international controversy due to its severe portrayal of sexual violence.


While the film was given an X rating upon its release in the United States of America, it was later re-rated as NC-17.



27. The Lover (1992)


The Lover (1992)


Helmed for the screen by Jean-Jacques Annaud and based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Marguerite Duras, The Lover is yet another feature that was originally given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA.


The makers had to really go out of their way to convince the board to change the rating to R.


The film features actors such as Jane March and Tony Leung Ka-Fai in central roles and Jeanne Moreau as the narrator.


The story is about a young French girl who ends up having feelings for a comparatively older Chinese man.


Even though both of them are aware of the fact that the relationship may cause them a whole lot of trouble, they still decide to proceed with it.



28. Killer Joe (2011)


Killer Joe (2011)


Entity Detail
Title Killer Joe
Release Year 2011
Watch time 102 min
Directors William Friedkin
Cast Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church
Domestic Box office $1.99M
IMDb Rating 6.7
Metascore 62
Writers Tracy Letts
Music By Tyler Bates
Cinematography By Caleb Deschanel
Costume By Franco-Giacomo Carbone


Not many of our readers would be aware of the fact that director William Friedkin’s Killer Joe had also received the NC-17 rating.


The motion picture stars actors like Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon, and Thomas Haden Church in pivotal roles.


It traces the journey of a Texan drug dealer named Chris, who has gotten himself into enormous debt and is in serious need of cash.


Having no place to run, he is left with no option but to slay his own mother to claim the insurance amount.


This psychosexual crime drama features an actor as talented as Matthew McConaughey as a dreadful hitman.


The film received the NC-17 rating due to its excessive use of nudity, projection of relentless psychological abuse, and violence.



29. Damage (1992)


Damage (1992)


The makers of Damage did their best to control the damage that the MPAA was allegedly keen to inflict on this project (pun intended).


The film was originally slapped with an NC-17 rating. However, after a few scenes were edited out, the Louis Malle directorial venture ended up settling with an R rating.


Starring Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche, Miranda Richardson, Rupert Graves, Ian Bannen, and Leslie Caron in pivotal roles, the film traces the journey of a member of Parliament who falls head over heels in love with his son’s fiancée.


However, there is always the danger of “discovery” in such cumbersome situations.



30. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)


Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)


Entity Detail
Title Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Release Year 2008
Watch time 101 min
Directors Kevin Smith
Cast Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Gerry Bednob
Domestic Box office $31.46M
IMDb Rating 6.5
Metascore 56
Writers Kevin Smith
Music By James L. Venable
Cinematography By David Klein
Costume By Robert Holtzman


Zack and Miri Make a Porno has been directed by known filmmaker Kevin Smith and stars screen performers such as Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Traci Lords, Jeff Anderson, Katie Morgan, and Ricky Mabe in crucial roles.


The story of this motion picture is quite simple. It tracks the journey of two friends, Zack and Miri, who, upon suffering heavy financial losses, decide to earn money by filming an adult movie.


It’s been reported that the rating board wasn’t too pleased with a couple of intimate sequences in the story, which is why the film was slapped with an NC-17 rating twice.


However, Smith took the onus on himself and appealed the rating. He argued that the intimate scenes were in the movie to elicit laughter among the viewers.


This perhaps changed the mind of the board and the film was finally released with an R rating.



31. Young Adam (2003)


Young Adam (2003)


Written and directed for the screen by David Mackenzie, Young Adam features a competent cast full of performers such as Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan, and Emily Mortimer, among others.


Based on Alexander Trocchi’s novel of the same name, the NC-17 flick traces the journey of a young nomad named Joe who works on a barge touring between Glasgow and Edinburgh.


The barge has been acquired by Les and his wife Ella. However, one day, things change when the crew stumbles upon the body of a young woman while loading the hold with coal.


This, in turn, stimulates a sequence of events in the screenplay. This feature film was screened at a lot many noteworthy film festivals across the world.


Not only was it screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival but it was also shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Moscow Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival, and the Athens Film Festival, respectively.



32. Broken English (1996)


Broken English (1996)


Director Gregor Nicholas brings together actors like Aleksandra Vujčić, Julian Arahanga, Marton Csokas, and Rade Šerbedžija for this NC-17 project that is set in New Zealand.


Even though Broken English is rated NC-17 by the MPAA, it only comprises one intimate scene. That is perhaps why its makers decided to appeal the ruling.


That said, this film depicts a clash of ideologies. It attempts to blend the ideals of a rigid Croatian refugee against those of his daughter Nina, who does not share his old-world and orthodox perspectives.


The plot demonstrates how complications arise when Nina is entangled in a marriage of convenience with a Chinese national and a passionate affair with the Maori cook who works at the same eatery where she does.



33. Crash (1996)


Crash (1996)


Those who have been ardent movie fans for a long time must be aware of director David Cronenberg’s affinity for mind-bending concepts and excessive violence.


It is not surprising then that his 1996 feature, Crash, was given an NC-17 rating.


The bizarre story follows a group of “friends” who get sexually aroused when they come across car crashes and their victims.


Needless to say, the film was paced with highly graphic sex scenes.


In addition, the usage of violence was prevalent throughout its storytelling. Despite all this, the motion picture managed to grab eyeballs and was appreciated by many a critic.



34. The Aristocrats (2005)


The Aristocrats (2005)


Hilarious, outlandish, and vulgar, The Aristocrats showcases a hundred superstar comedians telling the same filthy joke that’s been privately shared by comics since Vaudeville.


Needless to say, this documentary interviewed many top comedians of their respective eras, and each one of them had their own unique way to tell “the world’s dirtiest joke”.


While we are not going to tell you what the joke is, we certainly can vouch for the fact that the comedians get as gross and taboo as possible. So, yes, The Aristocrats had to be released Unrated to avoid an NC-17 rating.



35. Antichrist (2009)


Antichrist (2009)


Those who are familiar with Danish director Lars von Trier’s work would be well aware of the fact that he is quite acquainted with the NC-17 rating.


His 2009 offering, Antichrist, stars talented actors Willem Dafoe and Nymphomaniac star Charlotte Gainsbourg in the lead. They shock with their grim and horrifying portrayal of a couple going through marital woes after the tragic death of their beloved child.


The film’s sequences depicting acts of self-mutilation resulted in a handful of cine-goers fainting during its early screening at Cannes.


Surely, when nature decides to take control of things, they can go from bad to worse.



36. Easier with Practice (2009)


Easier with Practice (2009)


Entity Detail
Title Easier with Practice
Release Year 2009
Watch time 100 min
Directors Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Cast Brian Geraghty, Kel O’Neill, Marguerite Moreau, Jeanette Brox
Domestic Box office
IMDb Rating 6.4
Metascore 72
Writers Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Music By David Rush Morrison
Cinematography By Fernando Collins
Costume By Gary Barbosa


Written and directed for the screen by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Easier with Practice stars Brian Geraghty, Kel O’Neill, Marguerite Moreau, Jeanette Brox, Jenna Gavigan, and Katie Aselton in crucial roles.


What is interesting about this film is the fact that its story is based on a 2006 GQ article written by Davy Rothbart.


The screenplay traces the journey of an aspiring writer who becomes incredulously obsessed with a phone-sex lover.


The catch here is that he has never actually met the person he has been speaking to on phone calls.


This unique motion picture was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards: Best First Feature and Someone to Watch Awards.


It made its world premiere at The CineVegas Film Festival. There, it managed to receive the Grand Jury Prize.


Not only that but this originally NC-17-rated feature also went on to receive Best New International Feature at its international premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.



37. Chained (2012)


Chained (2012)


Helmed for the screen by Jennifer Lynch, Chained stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Eamon Farren, Gina Philips, Conor Leslie, Jake Weber, and Julia Ormond in significant roles.


The screenplay shows D’Onofrio’s character as a serial killer who’s kept Farren’s character as his prisoner.


The story proceeds to examine their relationship as the killer tries to turn his hostage into his protégé. Chained was originally rated NC-17 by the MPAA for its explicit depiction of violence.


However, the director had to edit the screenplay in order to get an R rating.


That said, the feature had its premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival and opened to polarizing reviews elsewhere.


Be that as it may, its performances were appreciated by those who were able to come across this venture.



38. Shortbus (2006)


Shortbus (2006)


Reportedly inspired by New York’s real underground sex parties, Shortbus traces the journey of a group of New Yorkers who are caught up in their romantic-sexual milieu and converge at an underground salon.


Since the salon is infamous for its blend of art, music, politics and carnality, it’s only fitting that the film gets famous for its blend of comedy, drama, and eroticism.


Shortbus grabbed eyeballs because it was shot almost entirely with real intercourse. In fact, it was reported that its main lead Sook-Yin Lee was almost fired from her job at the CBC because of her decision to work on the project.


Thankfully for her, prominent celebs like Yoko Ono, Julianne Moore, and Francis Ford Coppola came to her defense.


The movie was screened as Unrated in various cities around America for viewers who were 18+.



39. Henry & June (1990)


Henry & June (1990)


Entity Detail
Title Henry & June
Release Year 1990
Watch time 136 min
Directors Philip Kaufman
Cast Fred Ward, Uma Thurman, Maria de Medeiros, Richard E. Grant
Domestic Box office $11.57M
IMDb Rating 6.3
Metascore 62
Writers Anaïs Nin
Music By Mark Adler
Cinematography By Philippe Rousselot
Costume By Guy-Claude François


Co-written and directed for the screen by Philip Kaufman, this biographical drama film was officially known for being the first motion picture to receive the newly instilled NC-17 rating in 1990.


The movie stars Fred Ward, Uma Thurman, and Maria de Medeiros in prominent roles and is partially based on the posthumously published Anaïs Nin book of the same name.


The screenplay attempts to tell the story of Nin’s relationship with Henry Miller and his wife June.


Even though Henry & June was allotted an NC-17 rating courtesy of the intimate scenes, some critics at the time actually criticized it for not being tempting enough.


Be that as it may, the motion picture was well-received upon its release.



40. Inserts (1975)


Inserts (1975)


This John Byrum-helmed project features Richard Dreyfuss, Veronica Cartwright, Jessica Harper, Bob Hoskins, and Stephen Davies in prominent roles.


The NC-17 feature attempts to trace the journey of a young, has-been Hollywood filmmaker who refuses to change with time.


Needless to say, he ceases to accept the fact that times are indeed changing with the onset of the 1930s.


This reluctance makes him find a haven in his crumbling mansion where he decides to make silent porn movies.


This was director John Byrum’s debut feature. It was originally rated X but its rating was later altered to NC-17.


Unfortunately for its makers, Inserts turned out to be a disappointment at the ticket windows.



41. Hard Target (1993)


Hard Target (1993)


Entity Detail
Title Hard Target
Release Year 1993
Watch time 97 min
Directors John Woo
Cast Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler, Chuck Pfarrer
Domestic Box office $32.59M
IMDb Rating 6.2
Metascore 63
Writers Chuck Pfarrer
Music By Graeme Revell Tim Simonec
Cinematography By Russell Carpenter
Costume By Michele Poulik


Director John Woo’s Hard Target is an action extravaganza that stars Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler, and Wilford Brimley in crucial roles.


It is based on the 1932 film adaptation of Richard Connell’s 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game”, and is considered to be a cult flick among fans of the action genre.


The film tracks the journey of a merchant seaman named Chance, who goes out of his way to help Natasha look for her father who’s been missing.


However, the journey brings him on the trail of a ruthless killer whose victims are mostly homeless men.


This John Woo-helmed feature was adjudged too intense and brutal for an R rating and, therefore, received an NC-17 rating initially.


However, the filmmaker made a lot many cuts to the movie in order to ensure that it did not end up releasing with an NC-17 rating.


While Hard Target opened to strictly mixed reviews, it was a commercial success at the box office.



42. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)


Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)


Entity Detail
Title Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
Release Year 1970
Watch time 109 min
Directors Russ Meyer
Cast Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom, John Lazar
Domestic Box office $2.66M
IMDb Rating 6.2
Metascore 60
Writers Roger Ebert
Music By Stu Phillips
Cinematography By Fred J. Koenekamp
Costume By William Buell


Director Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls stars actors Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom, Phyllis Davis, Erica Gavin, John Lazar, Michael Blodgett, and David Gurian in crucial roles.


The story of this NC-17 feature follows a star-struck all-girl band that gets itself entangled with the wrong side of Hollywood; one that is high on popping pills and craving for unnecessary intimacy.


While the film did not receive unanimously positive reviews upon its theatrical release, it did end up developing a cult following in the decades to come.



43. Orgazmo (1997)


Orgazmo (1997)


Entity Detail
Title Orgazmo
Release Year 1997
Watch time 94 min
Directors Trey Parker
Cast Trey Parker, Dian Bachar, Robyn Lynne Raab, Michael Dean Jacobs
Domestic Box office $0.58M
IMDb Rating 6.1
Metascore 48
Writers Trey Parker
Music By Paul Robb
Cinematography By Kenny Gioseffi
Costume By Kristen Anacker


Orgazmo belongs to a very unique genre of filmmaking. It is a superhero sex comedy feature film that has been written, directed, and edited by Trey Parker.


It stars Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Dian Bachar, Robyn Lynne, and Michael Dean Jacobs in crucial roles.


The plot of this NC-17 venture follows a devout and innocent Mormon missionary named Joe Young who reluctantly agrees to be a part of a pornographic film for an abusive director.


He does so in order to be able to pay for his and his fiancée’s dream wedding and home.


Orgazmo has gone on to become a cult film of sorts following its release in 1997.



44. Swearnet: The Movie (2014)


Swearnet: The Movie (2014)


Helmed for the screen by Warren P. Sonoda, Swearnet: The Movie has been written, produced by, and stars Mike Smith, John Paul Tremblay, and Robb Wells in significant roles.


The story of the motion picture tracks how Mike, Robb, and Paul are fed up with being censored in their life post the series Trailer Park Boys. Possibly looking for inspiration, the trio decides to get ambitious and launches their own uncensored network on the internet.


We’d like to inform our readers that this film holds the record for using the “F” word the maximum number of times in any motion picture to date.


It apparently used the word 935 times. It is not surprising then that the feature ended up getting an NC-17 rating from the MPAA.



45. Pink Flamingos (1972)


Pink Flamingos (1972)


Entity Detail
Title Pink Flamingos
Release Year 1972
Watch time 93 min
Directors John Waters
Cast Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole
Domestic Box office $0.18M
IMDb Rating 6.1
Metascore 47
Writers John Waters
Music By John Waters
Cinematography By John Waters
Costume By Vincent Peranio


Directed by John Waters and starring Divine, David Lochary, Mink Stole, Mary Vivian Pearce, Danny Mills, and Edith Massey in crucial roles, Pink Flamingos was initially released in the theatres with an X rating.


However, it was later re-rated NC-17. The plot of this venture follows a fat and strange woman and her misfit family, who try to rival a Baltimore couple to be labeled the filthiest people alive in the world.


Since filmmaker John Waters has long been known as “the king of filth”, this 1972 project aimed to justify the epithet, by hook or by crook.


Arguably his most disgusting and disturbing work yet, Pink Flamingos is one of the most provocative cult motion pictures to have ever been produced.


And, oh yes, it is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.



46. Blonde (2022)


Blonde (2022)


One of the recent movies to receive an NC-17 rating, Blonde takes a rather sordid look at the rise to fame and the epic demise of screen icon Marilyn Monroe, who was one of the most popular stars in the world during the peak of her career.


This Andrew Dominik directorial venture opened to negative reviews from critics and fans alike due to the “unethical” portrayal of the major film star.


Blonde has been toplined by Ana de Armas, who managed to grab eyeballs through her performance. It received the NC-17 rating due to its sexual content.



47. Wide Sargasso Sea (1993)


Wide Sargasso Sea (1993)


Director John Duigan’s Wide Sargasso Sea is an official adaptation of author Jean Rhys’s novel of the same name.


The film stars Karina Lombard, Nathaniel Parker, Claudia Robinson, Michael York, and Rachel Ward in significant roles.


The story of this NC-17 feature traces the journey of French colonist Annette Cosway, who, after having fallen into the grasp of poverty, decides to marry a racist Englishman named Paul Mason.


The screenplay showcases the complex situations that arise after Annette’s young son loses his life in a fire and Mason leaves her to fend for herself. The film was given an NC-17 rating because of the inclusion of implicit scenes in its screenplay.



48. Two Girls and a Guy (1998)


Two Girls and a Guy (1998)


Entity Detail
Title Two Girls and a Guy
Release Year 1998
Watch time 84 min
Directors James Toback
Cast Robert Downey Jr., Heather Graham, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Angel David
Domestic Box office $1.95M
IMDb Rating 5.5
Metascore 66
Writers James Toback
Music By Barry Markowitz
Cinematography By Alan Oxman
Costume By Wendi Friedman


This James Toback directorial venture was reportedly edited fourteen times to get its rating changed from NC-17 to R for a theatrical release.


However, both versions of the film seem to be available today.


Starring actors like Robert Downey Jr., Heather Graham, and Natasha Gregson Wagner in important roles, Two Girls and a Guy tells the wickedly funny tale of two women who realize that they’ve been sharing the same partner for months.


What follows is a series of events that pretty much strives to elucidate the failure of modern-day relationships.


The motion picture, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1997, is primarily based on dialogue between the three characters. It was filmed in eleven flat days.



49. The Hottest Bid (1995)


The Hottest Bid (1995)


This Deborah Shames directorial venture features Gwen Somers, Dihlon McManne, Belinda Farrell, and Eric Barnes in crucial roles.


This highly sensual NC-17 title attempts to trace the journey of an erratic but thriving attorney who attends a charity bachelor auction.


There, he tries to prove a point about men by spending top dollar for a date with a pet canine.


The viewers who have managed to stumble upon this feature are of the opinion that the intimate scenes in it are all well-executed and believable.



50. Whore (1991)


Whore (1991)


Entity Detail
Title Whore
Release Year 1991
Watch time 85 min
Directors Ken Russell
Cast Theresa Russell, Benjamin Mouton, Antonio Fargas, Elizabeth Morehead
Domestic Box office $1.01M
IMDb Rating 5.6
Writers David Hines
Music By Michael Gibbs
Cinematography By Amir Mokri
Costume By Amy Wells


Helmed for the screen by Ken Russell, this NC-17 feature stars Theresa Russell and Benjamin Mouton in pivotal roles.


The film tracks a night in the life of a pessimistic prostitute and is pretty much the director’s understanding of the world’s oldest profession.


Even though this project was a financial failure, it did receive fair reviews from those who were able to catch it at the time.


An unrelated sequel, Whore II, was released some three years later. Since the movie was granted an NC-17 rating and did not really feature an A-lister, not many cinema houses in the United States of America were too keen to screen it.



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