15 NC-17 Movies With Famous Actors (And How To Watch Them)

Ana De Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde
(Image credit: Netflix)

As far as ratings go, at least those handed out by the Motion Picture Association, there is almost nothing more extreme these days than NC-17, which essentially means no one under the age of 18 can purchase a ticket for a multitude of reasons. And while some directors, producers, and studios will re-cut their films to get an R-rating, there are plenty of NC-17 movies that have been left unedited and sent out into the wild as is, which has resulted in limited releases of some of the most notorious movies of all time.

Blonde – the Ana De Armas Marilyn Monroe movie – is the latest film to earn the infamous movie rating and the also first Netflix original movie to do so. Find out why one of the most talked about 2022 movie releases was branded this way, as well as where you can find other notable NC-17 movies to check out, in the following list.

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Blonde (2022) - Ana de Armas

Based on the book by Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde is director Andrew Dominik’s in-depth and fictionalized look at the tragically short life of Norma Jeane Baker, better known as Marilyn Monroe. Ana de Armas disappears into the role of one of Hollywood’s most iconic figures, portraying a side of the actress and model that was long kept hidden from the public.

Dominik once said that he anticipated his nearly three-hour biopic would be rated NC-17 before the MPA made it official in June 2022, citing “some sexual content” as the reasoning. The film’s more hardcore scenes would inspire some strong reactions from both critics and audiences since it was made available to stream on Wednesday, September 28, 2022.

Stream Blonde on Netflix.

James Spader in Crash

(Image credit: Alliance Communications)

Crash (1996) - James Spader, Holly Hunter

Not to be confused with director Paul Haggis’ Best Picture Oscar winner from 2005, Crash is one of the more bizarre and inventive movies directed by David Cronenberg (which is really saying something). Based on the novel by J.G. Ballard, it focuses on a TV producer (James Spader) who becomes seduced into an unusual and dangerous obsession with car wrecks and the intense, sexually stimulating effect they seem to have on him and others, including his mistress (Holly Hunter).

Just from learning the plot, it seems pretty clear why a movie like Crash would have been given the NC-17 rating and why it inspired controversy so pervasive that it was chronicled in a 2001 book called The Crash Controversy: Censorship Campaigns and Film Reception. Nonetheless, it was still relatively well-received by critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes, and earned Cronenberg a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, despite vehement opposition from the jury’s then-president, Francis Ford Coppola.

Buy Crash on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Rosario Dawson in Descent

(Image credit: City Lights Pictures)

Descent (2007) - Rosario Dawson

Not to be confused with the Scottish 2005 horror movie THE Descent, this film sees Rosario Dawson giving her most provocative and extreme performance since she broke out in another controversial classic, Kids. This time, she plays a woman who undergoes a dramatic and violent change of character after she is assaulted by a man she meets at a fraternity party.

This brutal and upsetting revenge drama was actually released with two alternative cuts: one rated NC-17 and an R-rated edit that omits seven minutes of footage. Still, both versions contain brutal rape, language, some sexual content and drug use.

Buy Descent on DVD on Amazon.

Nomi licking stripper pole in showgirls

(Image credit: Umbrella Entertainment)

Showgirls (1995) - Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan

Perhaps the most infamous movie on this list, Paul Verhoeven’s 1995 erotic cult classic, Showgirls, follows a young drifter named Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley just one year after she last played Jessie Spano in Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas) as she hitchhikes to Las Vegas with dreams of becoming a famous dancer on the Strip. Though she has some ups and downs on her journey, Nomi finally makes her dreams come true, but at a price…

According to the MPA, Showgirls was given its NC-17 rating due to the amount of nudity and erotic sexuality throughout the movie, as well as graphic language and sexual violence. If you’ve seen the movie (and not the VH1 version with digitized bras), you’re well aware of the film’s graphic nature.

Stream Showgirls on Tubi.

Michael Fassbender in Shame

(Image credit: Momentum Pictures)

Shame (2011) - Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan

Released in 2011, Steve McQueen’s psychological drama, Shame, centers on Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender) – a successful and dashing executive who is secretly a traumatized sex addict who will do anything and everything to get his kicks in New York City. Just when he thinks life can’t get any worse, his equally damaged sister (Carey Mulligan) storms into his life, causing more complications.

Upon release, Shame was given an NC-17 rating by the MPA for explicit sexual content as well as some truly troubling scenes. I’ve walked out of several movies before, but this was the first I exited simply because what was happening on the screen was way too real and unnerving to finish.

Stream Shame on Hulu.
Rent/buy Shame on Amazon.
Rent/Buy Shame on Vudu.

Léa Seydoux in Blue is the Warmest Color

(Image credit: Wild Bunch)

Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013) - Léa Seydoux 

Abdellatif Kechiche’s 2013 French drama, Blue is the Warmest Color, follows Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) – a high school student who experiences a sexual awakening after meeting an art school student and aspiring painter named Emma (Léa Seydoux). Over the years, the two form a contentious and highly-emotional relationship that opens their eyes to a whole new world around them.

Though tamer than some of the other titles on this list, Blue is the Warmest Color was given an NC-17 rating because of the explicit sexual content the MPA felt was unsuitable for younger audiences. However, at least one theater allowed teens to watch the movie upon release.

Rent/Buy Blue is the Warmest Color on Amazon.

Frankie Thorn and Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant

(Image credit: Aries Films)

Bad Lieutenant (1992) - Harvey Keitel

Abel Ferrara’s 1992 crime thriller Bad Lieutenant follows a broken NYPD detective (Harvey Keitel) as the stresses of his job, life, and gambling habits get the best of him. From one interaction to the next, the unnamed lieutenant falls deeper down the rabbit hole of depravity, committing some irredeemable crimes of his own along the way.

If there has ever been a movie deserving of an NC-17 rating it would have to be Bad Lieutenant. With an abundance of sexual violence, intense sexual situations, endless drug use, and extreme language throughout, it’s no wonder the MPA came down hard on the movie.

Stream Bad Lieutenant on Tubi.
Stream Bad Lieutenant on Freevee through Amazon.

Trey Parker and Dian Bachar in Orgazmo

(Image credit: October Films)

Orgazmo (1997) - Trey Parker, Matt Stone

Joe Young (Trey Parker, who also co-wrote and directed) is just a normal Mormon missionary trying to find enough money to support and marry his longtime girlfriend. But when he stumbles upon a porn set, the once strait-laced and deeply devoted young man becomes the biggest thing going in the adult entertainment industry in Orgazmo.

It should come as no surprise that a movie written by the creators of South Park, and one that centered on the porn industry, would receive an NC-17 rating from the MPA in 1998. It should come as even less of a surprise that the rating was handed down due to the sexual content and dialogue featured throughout.

Stream Orgazmo on Starz.
Rent/Buy Orgazmo on Amazon.

Clive Owen in Bent

(Image credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Bent (1997) - Clive Owen, Ian McKellen

After being discovered and arrested by the Gestapo in Nazi Germany, Max (Clive Owen), a proud gay man, is sent on a perilous journey to the Dachau concentration camp where he is subjected to indescribable horrors while still being able to find love.

Possibly one of the most harrowing movies about the Holocaust, Sean Mathias’ 1997 drama Bent is absolutely heartbreaking and disturbing with its graphic displays of violence. Upon its release, the movie received an NC-17 rating from the MPA due to its graphic sexual nature.

Stream Bent on Tubi.
Stream Bent on Plex.
Rent/Buy Bent on Amazon.

Antonio Banderas in Matador

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Classics)

Matador (1986) - Antonio Banderas

In one of his most disturbing roles, Antonio Banderas plays Angel, a young student who confesses to an attempted rape and a series of murders he may or may not have committed, in Pedro Almodóvar’s 1986 dark comedy, Matador.

Just like some of the other movies featuring the director and actor, Matador pushed the limits with its dark, twisted, and oddly humorous story. Still, the MPA would later give the film an NC-17 rating in 2005 (nearly 20 years after initial release) due to “aberrant sexuality” and violence.

Stream Matador on Freevee through Amazon.

Eva Green in The Dreamers

(Image credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

The Dreamers (2003) - Eva Green, Michael Pitt

In the midst of the 1968 Student Riots in Paris, an American student named Matthew (Michael Pitt) finds himself getting caught up in the lives of formerly conjoined twins Théo (Louis Garrel) and Isabelle (Eva Green), whose relationship is far from normal. When asked to spend a month with the siblings, Matthew falls deeper into their wild and free-flowing lifestyle.

Bernardo Bertolucci’s 2003 erotic drama, The Dreamers, pushes several boundaries and deviates from societal norms to tell a story about young love in the midst of a chaotic time. With the extreme sexual content and nudity, it’s no surprise the MPA gave the movie an NC-17 rating upon release.

Stream The Dreamers on Amazon with Cinemax add-on.

Maria Schneider and Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris

(Image credit: United Artists)

Last Tango In Paris (1972) - Marlon Brando

Another emotionally-charged, erotic, and shocking Bernardo Bertolucci drama, 1972’s Last Tango in Paris follows Paul (Marlon Brando) and Jeanne (Maria Schneider) – two strangers who become lovers after both going out for the same apartment in Paris. What starts out as an anonymous affair where no personal details are revealed turns into something more real and painful along the way.

Upon its release in 1972, Last Tango in Paris was given an X rating, but the MPA later reclassified the film as an NC-17 movie upon re-release in 1997, on account of its extreme sexual content.

Stream Last Tango in Paris on Paramount+.
Rent/Buy Last Tango in Paris on Amazon.

Tracey Ullman and Selma Blair in A Dirty Shame

(Image credit: Fine Line Features)

A Dirty Shame (2004) - Selma Blair, Johnny Knoxville

A John Waters movie receiving an NC-17 rating? You don’t say! The filthy filmmaker’s 2004 comedy, A Dirty Shame, follows Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman) – a puritanical resident of the Hatford Road area of Baltimore who experiences a sexual awakening after being hit by a car. 

Selma Blair, Johnny Knoxville, and Chris Isaak also star in A Dirty Shame, which (no shocker here) was given the NC-17 rating by the MPA due to its pervasive sexual content. And if you’ve seen the movie, you are all too aware of just how pervasive and graphic it is.

Rent/Buy A Dirty Shame on Amazon.

Divine in Pink Flamingos

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Pink Flamingos (1972) - Divine

When Connie (Mink Stole) and Raymond Marble (David Lochary) attempt to steal Babs Johnson’s (Divine) title of “the filthiest person alive,” the down and dirty criminal and her family make it their mission in life to prevent the newcomers from accomplishing their mission by any means necessary.

With scenes featuring incest, people eating dog poop, flashers, and an infamously notorious scene involving a chicken, it shouldn’t shock anyone that John Waters’ classic exploitation comedy film, Pink Flamingos, was given an NC-17 rating by the MPA upon re-release in 1997, 25 years after it first shocked audiences around the world. Maybe that’s why Roger Ebert hated the movie.

Buy Pink Flamingos on DVD on Amazon.

Bruce Campbell in The Evil Dead

(Image credit: Renaissance Pictures)

The Evil Dead (1981) - Bruce Campbell

Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend, and a small group of friends set off for a night away in an isolated cabin, but the night quickly takes a turn for the worse after they discover the Necronomicon, a powerful book that brings the dead back to life.

Sam Raimi’s classic horror film, The Evil Dead, was initially released with an X rating back in 1981 but was later given an NC-17 by the MPA when the movie was re-released back in 1994, on account of its substantial graphic violence and gore.

Buy The Evil Dead on Blu-ray on Amazon.

If you think this list is a little short and missing movies like Happiness and the aforementioned Kids, it should be noted that those movies surrendered their NC-17 ratings upon release. 

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.