The Sexiest Movie of 2014: Beyond the Lights vs. The Eva Green Trifecta
Unlike my dissection for best sequel of the year editorial, there aren’t a lot of major ramifications from movie business models when it comes to sexiness, so you’ll be spared the long intro. Sexy is sexy. There are no moving parts to discuss other than the, err, moving parts.
So let’s get to it… [jazzy music sounds, but the record scratches to a halt].
Actually, 2014 wasn’t really that sexy. In 2014 Lars von Trier made a two-part epic sex film, with un-simulated sex happening with superimposed actors faces onto porno actor bodies, he called it Nymphomaniac and it was so unsexy that no one would probably want to even touch another human being after watching it. The character posters are sexier (and more alive) than the movie. We also had Sex Tape, which gave us more jokes involving Jason Segel’s bare ass, but it’s more notable for the scenes that didn’t make the theatrical cut of the movie.
What about Vampires? Vampires are always sexy, right? 2014 gave us two great vampire movies: Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive and Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Jarmusch’s vampire movie was romantic. Not that we have to separate romance from sexiness, but Only Lovers is mostly one vampire (Tilda Swinton) helping get her centuries-old lover’s (Tom Hiddleston) groove back. Not his sexy groove, mind you, his caring about anything-at-all groove. Being undead for so long, he’s lost faith in human beings’ abilities to do anything new and interesting. The living can no longer inspire him to live.
And Amirpour’s film is, funnily enough, the Jarmusch vampire movie we would’ve gotten in the 80s: sparse dialogue, black and white images, and the cool soundtrack does most of the talking. And there definitely is some sexiness to the Persian James Dean (Arash Marandi). But it is set in a place (fictional Bad City, Iran) where the women lack personal agency. And I suppose we couldn’t choose two films you’d never heard of for this list. Not in this uninspiring age of needing clicks from living people, anyway. But skate, don’t walk to catch that cool Girl.
So no, 2014 wasn’t the sexiest year. Perhaps it has to do with less adult films being made than ever before. I don’t mean pornography, just movies made exclusively for adults. But despite a dearth, we did get a very interesting battle of the sexiness for CraveOnline’s sexiest film of 2014 crowning distinction: Beyond the Lights and everything Eva Green starred in this year. So what the heck was the sexiest movie of 2014? Let’s crown some jewels.
The Case for ‘Beyond the Lights’:
What’s truly sexy about Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights is that she presents the pop fantasy of sexiness – very little clothes, come hither stares, and writhing, writhing, writhing – before she puts a person into that fantasy body. The payoff is the transition, not just in looks, but in taking control. Calling the shots is sexy.
Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is a pop star puppet for both her mother (Minnie Driver) and her record label. She’s a huge star, but she’s yet to release a solo album. She gives the come-and-get-it guest lyrics on Kid Culprit’s (Machine Gun Kelly) raps. The label also has her fake dating the Kid. She’s an illusion in every aspect of her life. Photographers get to tell her when the leather jacket comes off. She finally has a solo album coming out, but she’s written no words for it.
Kaz (Nate Parker) is a police officer who’s providing security to her hotel penthouse when she attempts suicide. He saves her. They begin a romance. But this isn’t The Bodyguard, this is a woman finding out that she is a woman and not a pop fabrication. She uses some pop sensibilities for seduction: such as a private jet and a blindfold, but you can’t call Kaz a member of the mile-high club, because they’re so revved up they only get off a few hundred feet above the ground. But while Noni takes control in that situation, she more importantly takes control at the BET Music Awards. Where she doesn’t drop her clothes for a dance because she’s uncomfortable. And what happens after that exposes the double standard of the modern pop star: the man can humiliate the woman, but the woman will be more closely scrutinized for her part in that humiliation. (2014 was all about the shaming.)
Luckily, she’s able to regroup with Kaz and continue to build who she is. They take a sexy rendezvous to Mexico. And Prince-Bythewood’s film is sexy, but it becomes sexier the more wholesome it gets, and the more whole Noni gets. Beyond the Lights has a simple message, but it’s performed with gusto by Mbatha-Raw and Parker (non-sexy shout out to Danny Glover as Kaz’s father).
The Case for the Eva Green Trifecta:
Eva Green is undeniably sexy. Ever since Bernardo Bertolucci’s ridiculously sexy The Dreamers she’s been Hollywood’s, England’s, France’s, hell, the whole cinematic world’s go-to woman for characters that are in full control of their sexuality. She’s vintage Verhoeven’s Sharon Stone, except the legs uncrossing scene might be her idea: she’s just that in control.
In 300 she’s a warrior who hate-fucks her enemy (Sullivan Stapleton). She literally turns the table on him. When he asserts the powerful position behind her, she overpowers him, regains control, and puts herself out on top. In a movie full of fighting and blood, it’s this fight – the sex fight – that’s most memorable. She’s still sexy outside of that scene in 300, because she’s confident and trying to take control of an empire, but she’s lusting more for blood. 300 also has enough plot-cuts of raping and pillaging that the term “sexy” can only be applied to Green’s Artemisia. Also, it’s a pretty atrocious movie.
Green continued to be the sexy centerpiece in another violent blood-letting sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, where she was again probably the best thing about a not great movie. Green is slinky, assured, and lethal in her white nightie. The MPAA was so turned-on by her character’s movie poster that they required her breasts be reduced, and her nipple to lose the seductive shadow. Someone should’ve just told the MPAA partake in the ice bucket challenge and “free the nipple!”
White Bird in a Blizzard lets Green play with a home-life horror that will probably never play out in her actual life: when she no longer feels desirable. Her daughter (Shailene Woodley) is becoming sexually active and perhaps even falling in love, which makes her feel old and unwanted. Their bodies are becoming competitive. So she vanishes. Presumably to take charge of her sexual powers.
The 2014 Verdict:
Eva Green had a great personal year. But the problem is, none of those films were very good (Blizzard is the closest, but it has nothing to add to the overdone suburban malaise sub-genre… other than perhaps that a teenager can orgasm). Green is also very purposefully icy and distant in all of these films. She’s a pedestal figure that calls the sexual shots, but she’s still a pedestal. Mbatha-Raw comes down from a pedestal and becomes a person. And that’s the sexiest.
But while we’re happy to highlight Beyond the Lights, and continue to toss laurels at Green for squeezing the most out of not great movies, we do hope we have a sexier movie year in 2015.
Someone else will have to step up, though, because Green has no movies slated for a 2015 release. Who can you see taking control of 2015? What characters did we miss from this year? Please, don’t be a tease, be direct with us in the comments.