The Nerve Awards for Sexiness in Film

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A look back at 2010’s most — and least — red-blooded moments on film.

Each year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gives out a bunch of awards. Here at Nerve, we also have an annual award show, with a more modest scope: sexiness. Welcome to the second annual Nerve Awards for Sexiness in Film. 

Sexiest Picture of the Year
Love and Other Drugs

We should be clear about one thing from the start: Love and Other Drugs is not 2010’s best movie. It’s not even a particularly good movie. But, of the year’s Hollywood crop, it is the movie most likely to result in intercourse. Love and Other Drugs takes two undeniably beautiful people — Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway — and loosely constructs a storyline that allows them to be sexually entangled for about three-quarters of the film. The plot is vaguely affirming and totally forgettable; it’s not deep, gloomy, or thought-provoking. By the time the credits roll, all you'll feel is slightly entertained and and more than slightly horny. — Ben Reininga

Runners Up: The American, Black Swan, Chloe, The Kids Are All Right

Best Sex Scene in a Motion Picture
George Clooney and Violante Placido, The American

"Formulaic" isn't as damning a description of a sex scene as it is of a film. Take, for example, The American: the story of a nearly-retired hit-man finding himself involved in one last plot is generic action-movie fare. But towards the end of the movie, when our protagonist finally has sex, who cares that we've seen actors pretend to have sex on screen before? The scene's equal parts George Clooney and Italian beauty Violante Placido, bathed in mid-afternoon light, and laced with just a hint of aggressive tension since Clooney's character is still not certain he can trust her. And while it may be familiar, there's nothing dull about it. — Ben Reininga

Runners Up: Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, Black Swan; Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore, Chloe; Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right; Amy Adams and Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

Worst Sex Scene in a Motion Picture
Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine 

It’s no small feat to make a Michelle Williams sex scene unappealing, but Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine manages to achieve this dubious distinction. A few years into an ill-conceived marriage, Williams’ charming slacker husband (Ryan Gosling) has mysteriously aged decades into a paunchy, balding troglodyte who asks things like, "Do you want me to hit you?" Add a sci-fi themed hotel room that’s like a cross between a morgue and a "robot’s vagina" and you’ve got a textbook case of bad romance. It's a great piece of filmmaking, but you'd never watch it for fun. — Andrew Osborne

Runners Up: Russell Brand, Elisabeth Moss, and Jonah Hill, Get Him to the Greek; Will Ferrell and Eva Mendes, The Other Guys; Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwig, Greenberg; Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, Going the Distance

Sexiest Performance in a Motion Picture, Female
Mila Kunis, Black Swan

It must be difficult to actually play sexy. Sure, someone can be sexy, but if we asked you to be sexy right now, you'd probably end up pulling some sort of Zoolander face. But Mila Kunis pulls off sensuality with aplomb in Black Swan, the perfectly lusty dark ballerina to Natalie Portman's virginal introvert. Eating rare hamburgers, hooking up with random dudes in bars — her Lily is our kind of girl. In fact, her performance is sexy enough to make us overlook the weird body-horror of that lesbian sex scene. — James Brady Ryan

Runners Up: Natalie Portman, Black Swan; Marion Cotillard, Inception; Emma Stone, Easy A; Amy Adams, The Fighter

Sexiest Performance in a Motion Picture, Male
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right 

Mark Ruffalo's character in The Kids Are All Right is the perfect bohemian asshole, the shabbily gorgeous man who'll cook you breakfast with local, organic ingredients in the morning and trample blindly on your feelings at night. Part of the attraction — and probably part of why Julianne Moore cheats on her wife to sleep with him — is that sense of freedom his neo-hippie lifestyle entails. But Ruffalo's salt-and-pepper curls cannot be denied either. The movie probably said it best: "Donor dad's a stone-cold fox." — James Brady Ryan

Runners Up: Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter; Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine; Vincent Cassel, Black Swan; Johnny Knoxville, Jackass 3D

Best Breakout in Sex Appeal, Female
Emma Stone, Easy A

Easy A is a movie that would have you believe someone as smart, funny, and drop-dead gorgeous as Emma Stone could somehow be a high-school outcast. In other words, it’s a fantasy that’s even more far-fetched than The Last Airbender. But it’s still worth watching as a showcase for Stone’s star-making performance. The smoky-voiced redhead first displayed her scene-stealing capabilities in Superbad, and by the time she showed up as a badass slayer of the living dead in Zombieland, it was clear she was no mere flavor-of-the-month. As Olive, the high-school student who improves her social standing by letting the rumor mill run wild with tales of her nonexistent slutty exploits, she manages to be the sexiest person onscreen without ever actually having sex. And she could definitely show Demi Moore a thing or two about how to wear that scarlet letter in style. — Scott Von Doviak

Runners Up: Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs; Greta Gerwig, Greenberg

Best Breakout in Sex Appeal, Male
Tom Hardy, Inception

Even those who disagree about the quality of Inception can agree that Tom Hardy stole the show. Maybe it was his accent, his good looks, or the homoerotic undertones in his scenes with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but most people came away from that movie thinking two things: one, Tom Hardy is a star, and two, where can I see him with his shirt off? Thankfully, the long-toiling British actor will get to make up for his turn as the villain in Star Trek: Nemesis with a role as a villain in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. — James Brady Ryan

Runners Up: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Inception; John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone

Best Onscreen Chemistry
Keir Gilchrist and Emma Roberts, It's Kind of a Funny Story

Actual sex is all well and good, but sometimes the gossamer thrill of first love can be just as intense, especially for a virginal romantic newbie like the suicidal teen protagonist of It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Stressed out by his parents' sky-high expectations, Craig (Keir Gilchrist) mellows out during his time in a mental ward thanks to anti-depressants and the sweet (non-pharmaceutical) chemistry he shares with fellow damaged inmate, Noelle (played by Emma "Niece of Julia" Roberts). — Andrew Osborne

Runners Up: Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine; Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwig, Greenberg; John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei, Cyrus

Sexiest Non-Sex Scene
John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei dancing, Cyrus

What’s your favorite part of sex? The connection with another person? The physical exertion? The exhilarating, climactic release? All three elements come together in this fully-clothed love scene featuring John C. Reilly as a drunk, lonely schlub desperate to share his passion for The Human League’s "Don’t You Want Me, Baby?" on the dance floor at a restrained yuppie party. When Marisa Tomei’s alluring single mom suddenly slinks in to save him, the relief of his exultant response (“Yes! Thank you!”) is so visceral you might need a cigarette afterwards. — Andrew Osborne

Runners Up: James Franco finds a message from a sexy girl on his camcorder, 127 Hours; Ron’s naked Hermione vision, Deathly Hallows; Ewan MacGregor and Jim Carrey slow-dancing in their cell, I Love You, Phillip Morris

Biggest Loss In Sex Appeal
Joaquin Phoenix, I’m Still Here

Before Joaquin Phoenix finally admitted I’m Still Here was a meta-media hoax, there was debate as to whether the actor was having a genuine nervous breakdown or just wasting our (and David Letterman’s) valuable time.  But one thing everyone could agree on was the ickiness of the crazy Amish beard and homeless couture he sported throughout his months-long stunt, resulting in a major loss of sex appeal (not to mention career prospects) from which Phoenix has yet to recover. — Andrew Osborne

Runners Up: Patrick Dempsey, Valentine’s Day; Jake Gyllenhaal, Prince of Persia; Jennifer Lopez, The Backup Plan; Entire Cast, Sex and the City 2

The Lifetime Sexiness Award
Isabella Rossellini

Isabella Rossellini is one of the world's greatest sexpots. To look into her dark, smoldering eyes is to know lust. And, unlike many flash-in-the-pan sexy starlets, she's maintained her appeal throughout the decades. From her iconic, sexually-charged role as Dorothy Vallens in David Lynch's Blue Velvet to her performance as witchy, oft-nude Lisle Von Rhuman selling the fountain of youth in Death Becomes Her, Rossellini has exuded sex appeal in every role, and over the course of her career, pushed the sexual envelope, time and time again. Even as she heads into her sixties, Isabella is keeping things lusty. Her short film series for Sundance Channel, Green Porno, depicts the sexual behaviors of insects and marine animals. Isabella Rossellini: a lifetime of sexiness. — Kelly Bourdet