The Ssssssssssizzle Reel: A Sexy/Sweet Selection of Hot Acting from Hot Actors

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I think about media a lot. It’s what lives rent-free in my head. It cycles at all hours; like CNN, but fiction. I don’t let my mind wander and plan for reality; I think of messages conveyed, artistic choices, stories told. I will mull over close-ups like a sommelier comparing cabernets. Set dressing and costumes will take up residence in my dream apartment and closet. Lines of dialogue and script analyses dance around and find their way into my writing. Just look through. You will find references tattooed all over my work. My favorite thing to look for, bar none, is actor performance. Watching someone lay bare themselves both inside and out for the sake of honesty and story is something I love watching.

With this in mind, and with the rather specific holiday coming up on Sunday (think Cupid, think red, think hearts), and my most decidedly single status, I thought I’d offer some actors that always get me through and make me feel fluffy, in love and…something I’m not going to write down because I know for a fact my mother will read this. Think of it as a Sports Center highlight reel. A ssssssssssizzle reel; but a lot less sweaty. Well, they’re sweaty, sometimes. I wanted to bring up some performances and moments that I think serve for single people wanting to feel love during the holiday; and for couples who are just looking for something to watch.

JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON

This is a newer moment I wanted to talk about. So, in Malcolm and Marie (real quick addendum here; I wouldn’t recommend this for a sweet romantic film to watch with your partner unless y’all are real safe and secure. It’s rather enigmatic on just how exactly these characters end the film and move forward in their relationship). John David Washington gives an incredibly nuanced and gorgeous performance as a filmmaker on the precipice of a career breakthrough, and when Washington walks into the room, you are immediately aware he is over the moon about — something. You discover it even more when he gives a jubilant and exciting dance of his apparent triumph over, again, something (you’ll figure it out immediately after but you have to watch the dance). That mystery but expression of nothing short of absolute joy is what makes this dance moment to “Down and Out in New York City” so sexy. It’s watching someone be no holds barred excited about something. Malcolm and Marie is available on Netflix, and I highly recommend watching it not just for Washington, but Zendaya as well. The whole thing is sexy but this particular moment grabbed my attention as something that needed to be put on this list.

OSCAR ISAAC

I can’t talk about this man without mentioning damn near any film he’s in as one of the sexiest things you will lay eyes on. He walks sexy, he talks sexy. He’s got sexy eyebrows. Seriously; look at them the next time they’re furrowed. They really compliment his sexy forehead… He’s the best pilot in the galaxy who deserved much better (you know what I’m talking about Disney/LucasFilms).

However, I want to bring attention to a lesser noted movie he co-starred in with Elizabeth Olsen called In Secret. It’s based on the book titled Thérèse Racquin by Èmile Zola. In Secret is…well; it’s about two very, extremely, almost offensively attractive but morally skewed people that believe that passion and adultery are such solid bases for a relationship that that even murder can’t keep them apart. Surprise, it can. It’s a historical piece that while based off a great literary work, can get a little bodice-ripping. The counterpoint however, is Oscar Isaac is the one ripping the bodices. Is his character the nicest? Absolutely not, but the lewdness almost almost makes you forgive him. We are all for Bridgerton’s second season with bated breath, so let this be your next foray into historical sexiness in the meantime. It is also conveniently available on HBOMax; happy viewing.

ADAM DRIVER

This is another one of those I could go on for hours about this incredible actor. There are people who can attest that I have gone on for hours about him. It’s not difficult when you see the sort of nuance but electrifying impulsivness he puts into the characters he plays. There’s distinction in his presence similar to an old Hollywood studio heartthrobs, but there’s a sort of tenderness and honesty that makes the characters he plays other people, not Adam Driver as a character. That dichotomy is what makes him so fun to watch, and so sexy.

Everyone knows his turns as his more noted characters (I have beef with Disney/Lucasfilms about Kylo Ren’s dessert in the sequels as well…maybe someday I’ll air it out) however the film that I think conveys this tenderness beautifully and is a great lazy watch (or makeout while it’s on in the background) is a film I’ve talked about here before called Paterson. It’s a Jim Jarmusch film centered around a bus driving poet with a wife with her head full of dreams and their love and devotion to each other. It’s a film that shows off this adorable opposites attract couple in a gorgeous way and gives the characters such specific eccentricities that you can’t help but find them endearing as well. This one is more fluffy than sexy, but just watch the scenes where both Paterson and Laura are in bed together. It’ll hit you in all your soft spots.

If you want something a little more, well, hot I recommend Terry Gilliam’s film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. It’s a very deep and convoluted film; but it has two of the sexiest Adam Driver moments in media, including but not limited to a moment where he aggressively tangos with his love interest in the film that makes me go absolutely feral. Paterson is available on Amazon Prime!

RACHEL WEISS

When just thinking of the amount of sexual confusion this woman has caused with her role in The Mummy…. The Favourite, however is one I want to talk about explicitly because the entire movie is about seduction in one way or another. It’s impossible to see each interaction as some form of transaction; but Rachel Weiss takes that sort of transactional exchange and makes it impossibly sexy. She even makes threatening someone sexy. I’d let her tell me I’m “pretty when I’m enraged” any time she wants to.

FLORENCE PUGH

I first noticed Ms. Pugh in Little Women and that’s the moment I specifically want to talk about. Amy and Laurie’s romantic tension is something that only comes in in the later time sequences of the film. Which I understand, that’s just the plot. However, the scene where I think Pugh is both romantic and still one of the most beautiful and powerful is when she tells Laurie that Marriage is an economic proposition. It’s one of the moments where we see Amy be entirely vulnerable and powerful. There is no false feeling the way there tends to be when she is with Fred Vaughn and there is no other characters written to take the spotlight away from her in the scene. It’s the first time the audience and by extension Laurie see her for the incredible woman she is. It’s the nerd taking off the glasses for the big school dance; but told in a way that isn’t a harmful trope but is just a strong moment of romance.

I hope this has offered you some fun suggestions from some very fine (in more ways than one actors) and I hope you have a lovely holiday!

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Olivia Hrko

Olivia Hrko

She/Her. Bio in progress

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