Skip To Content
  • Sundance badge

The Year Sex Took Over Sundance

From a teenage girl's sexual awakening to gay men in a three-way, from incredibly flexible gymnastic sex to a mother having her way with a teddy bear, the 2015 Sundance Film Festival unabashedly explored areas of human sexuality rarely seen in feature films. Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS!

by , , , ,

Warning: The following story contains MAJOR (SEXY) SPOILERS for several films that premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

1. The Bronze

Scott Henriksen

This brash comedy about a has-been gymnast, co-written by and starring The Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch, may have kicked off Sundance on a decidedly mixed note, but people are still talking about its outrageous third-act sex scene. After receiving some disheartening news, Rauch’s character has an ill-advised fling with her nemesis, a former fellow Olympic gymnast played by Sebastian Stan. The pair go back to her hotel room and proceed to have athletic sex — literally. They do flips. They do lifts. They do turns. Rauch ends up bent over a table, and Stan does a few pommel horse moves on her back before getting back to it. Rings are involved. It’s incredibly raunchy and very, very funny. The scene was made possible with the help of some game body doubles, leaving us all wondering whether or not it’s Stan or his stand-in who’s flexible enough to lift his leg in a heel stretch above his head. —Alison Willmore

2. The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Sam Emerson

Growing up is never easy, but Minnie (Sundance breakout Bel Powley) has a particularly rough time of it after getting involved in a relationship with her mom’s boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). Their secret hookups leave Minnie confused and emotionally wrenched around, but are themselves voracious and raw, an encapsulation of her sexual awakening and overflowing sensuality. The film is daringly frank in depicting the sex in which Minnie engages, with Monroe and with others, portraying it frankly, without a sense of prurience or judgment, and with the understanding that showing its heroine’s desire and enjoyment of what she does in bed doesn’t equal a stamp of approval for her illegal, unhealthy relationship. That said, the most provocative scene isn’t one that takes place during sex at all, but immediately after, when Monroe has taken Minnie’s virginity. As they’re tangled together in bed in the aftermath, she wets her finger with her own blood and uses it to draw an “X” on Monroe’s leg, the moment one of shocking triumph. —A.W.

3. Dope

Scott Falconer

Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is the relatable, empathetic, geeky kid we’re all rooting for throughout the best work yet from writer-director Rick Famuyiwa (Our Family Wedding, Brown Sugar, The Wood). So when Lily (Chanel Iman), a sultry, rich temptress, disrobes and tells him she wants to give him his first time, game on. The problem: After Malcolm is naked and ready, Lily is nowhere to be found. The culprit: She has discovered Malcolm’s backpack filled with bricks of drugs — and sampling those goods prove to be far more tempting than taking his virginity. Their would-be sex goes haywire — brace yourself for a vomiting in the mouth scene. So, no sex for now for our dorky protagonist; his only option is the comically graphic masturbating that we saw him doing earlier in the comforts of his bedroom. —Kelley L. Carter

4. The D Train

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle

Sad-sack family man Dan Landsman (Jack Black) attempts to get the coolest guy in high school, Oliver Lawless (James Marsden), to attend their 20-year reunion in order to make himself a hero to the alumni committee. But when Dan travels to Los Angeles to woo Oliver, now a struggling actor in a Banana Boat commercial, he ends up — in a major twist, so SPOILER ALERT! — having a drug- and alcohol-fueled one-night stand with bisexual Oliver. And it's not left to the imagination: Oliver is shown having sex with Dan on-screen in a brief (and rather unexpected) shot. Later, Dan brings that sexual confidence to some uncharacteristically raucous sex with his wife (Kathryn Hahn), seemingly infused with a new confidence after his encounter with Oliver. —Jace Lacob

5. The Overnight

Patrick Brice

The opening scene of The Overnight depicts married couple Emily (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Adam Scott) — newly transplanted from Seattle — having routine missionary-style sex as he makes “circles” inside of her before they masturbate themselves to completion. After their son makes friends with a kid in the park, Emily and Alex end up meeting his parents, uninhibited couple Charlotte (Judith Godrèche) and Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), for dinner one evening — which turns into a night of debauchery fueled by weed and alcohol.

To get things started, Kurt plays Emily and Alex a videotape of Charlotte’s acting work, a breast pump demonstration, in which she exposes her breasts. He proudly shows off his paintings of friends' anuses and tries to get Alex to pose for him. And then things get complicated: Kurt gets naked — revealing that he has quite an enormous penis (a prosthetic!) — and jumps in the pool. Alex admits that he has a smaller-than-average penis and is finally convinced to get naked, which he does (another prosthetic!), and ends up dancing naked with Kurt poolside, their members swaying side-by-side. Charlotte locks Emily in a room at a massage parlor, forcing her to watch as she gives a random stranger a hand job. And at the film's climax, all four adults end up in a group hug and Kurt kisses Alex, with Alex reciprocating. And then they all fall into bed together as Kurt and Alex take their newfound friendship to a physical place before — well, that would be telling too much. —J.L.

6. I Am Michael

Justin Kelly

This film depicts the bewildering real-life tranformation of Michael Glatze (James Franco) from an LBGT rights activist to a Christian minister who renounced his homosexuality. To get an idea of just how deep-dish gay Glatze was, we witness the beginning of a threesome between Michael, his longtime boyfriend Bennett (Zachary Quinto), and Tyler (Teen Wolf’s Charlie Carver), a cute college student Michael picked up at a bar. They all kiss, strip down to their underwear, and then tumble down onto the bed in a tangle of legs — a comparably tame sequence given all the balls-out male nudity at Sundance this year. —Adam B. Vary

7. Sleeping With Other People

Linda Kallerus

College students Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) lose their virginity to each other on a rooftop and then disappear from each other's lives. Years later, Jake is now a silver-tongued womanizer, and Lainey is a sex addict sleeping with a married doctor (Adam Scott). The two reconnect after a random encounter at a support group and attempt to be friends. Separately, they engage in all sorts of sexual escapades — a marathon outing for Jake with a variety of positions, a quickie for Lainie on the desk of her doctor lover, and heartbreaking coitus for Jake and his divorced boss (Amanda Peet) in which he calls out Lainie’s name — but perhaps the most explicit scene is the one in which Jake teaches Lainey how to masturbate using a green tea jar. “Tap the roof” and “dirty DJ” are two of the highly specific moves that Jake instructs Lainey, quite graphically, to use for herself. —J.L.

8. I Smile Back

Eric Lin

Part of the drug-fueled descent that takes bipolar housewife Laney (Sarah Silverman) to rock bottom is a fair share of extramarital sex. That largely takes the form of an affair with family friend Donny (Thomas Sadoski), who — during a memorable hotel room dalliance — shocks Laney and the audience with surprise anal sex using the infamous Brokeback Mountain technique. (Spit as lube: Do not try this at home.) The strangest and most distressing sex scene in I Smile Back, however, occurs between Laney and an inanimate object. In her drug-addled state, Laney slips into her daughter’s room well past her bedtime and masturbates with the little girl’s teddy bear. That is, she fucks it on the floor. It is a truly bizarre moment that inspires equal parts nervous laughter and cringe. —Louis Peitzman

9. Tangerine

Augusta Quirk

On a rampage to find her cheating boyfriend/pimp, Los Angeles transgender prostitute Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) barges into a hotel “party room” filled with other prostitutes and their johns, in the middle of the act. The older johns mostly cower with their penises hanging out as Sin-Dee tears through the place.

Later, Los Angeles cab driver Razmik (Karren Karagulian) hires Sin-Dee’s best friend and fellow trans prostitute Alexandra (Mya Taylor) for a quick blow job — that he gives her as they go through a popular L.A. car wash on Santa Monica Blvd. It’s actually an uncannily striking scene — the camera sits in the backseat and takes in Razmik’s head quietly bobbing up and down as the automated car wash suds, sprays, and scrubs the taxi. —A.B.V.

TV and Movies

Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

Newsletter signup form