The 10 best NC-17 movies push the boundaries beyond a simple "Rated R," but though while these movies are explicit in many ways, the best NC-17 movies aren't simply risque for the point of exploiting that fact. These movies say something about their subjects that could not be said in a mainstream film; the best NC-17 movies could not be cut to fit a Rated R guideline.
- "This Film is Not Yet Rated" – A documentary about the MPAA rating system, exposing its preference for violence to explicit sexuality, this fits at the top of the list of the 10 best NC-17 movies since cutting it would have gone against the entire point of the film. It exposes the hypocrisy of the rating system. It's also funny and appalling in equal measure.
- "Requiem for a Dream" – A cautionary tale about addiction of all kinds, this hyperkinetic film won an NC-17 rating for explicit sexuality and its themes. A single cut for an R rating would have made quite the difference. It is one of the most effective and best NC-17 films of all time.
- "Inside Deep Throat" – Another documentary, this chronicling of the most profitable porn film of all time never could have been released any other way. The deep throating itself is what garnered the NC-17 rating.
- "Crash" – Not the Oscar-bait movie about race relations; this "Crash" is about car crashes and the people who love them…sexually. A twisted fairy tale from David Cronenberg, only in being explicit could it achieve its potential.
- "Lust, Caution" – A very steamy Chinese spy thriller, its hard to tell whether or not the sex scenes were completely real. But the fact that they appear in a very well-done movie makes this one of the best NC-17 movies and not a porn film.
- "Mysterious Skin" – Gregg Araki's best film. It is yet another film whose true impact could not have come across in a rated R cut.
- "Bad Lieutenant" – Abel Ferrara's dirty cop tale couldn't be dirty enough without the NC-17 rating. It has since been remade as an R-rated film by Werner Herzog.
- "Bad Education" – One of many Pedro Almodovar films to push the envelope, it definitely belongs with the best NC-17 movies of all time. In keeping with the director's adventurous spirit, he continues to press boundaries well into the 2000s.
- "9 Songs" – An attempt to tell the real story of a relationship means involving sex. Michael Winterbottom's film meant involving a lot of it, very explicitly. The film would not have made any sense without it.
- "Last Tango in Paris" – Originally rated X, this classic received an NC-17 rating when re-released in 1997. It remains one of the best NC-17 movies of all time.
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