'Blue Valentine' & NC-17 Rating: The Kiss of Death?

Sasha Brown-Worsham
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You better be over 17 if you plan to see Blue Valentine.

The much-anticipated drama starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling highlights the disintegration of a marriage and was slapped with an NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) because of an intense sex scene.

The film, which was a top selection at Sundance, has most critics talking Oscars, so the rating, which limits the numbers of theaters willing to show it, could hurt the film. According to CNN:

NC-17 movies simply don't get Oscar nominations. (Unless you count a cinematography nod for "Henry and June.")

The rating has traditionally been the kiss of death for a film until it comes out on DVD, and the distributors, Weinstein Company, are appealing the decision. Directed by Derek Cianfrance, the film opens in the US on December 31.

Typically, a film that gets this rating is cut so that it can be rated R, but in this case, Weinstein Company says such cuts would harm the film. Here are some movies that either had to be edited or keep the dreaded rating:

  1. American Psycho: A serial killer movie based on the book by Bret Easton Ellis, the film was graphically violent and sexual and was toned down for an R-rating.
  2. Basic Instinct: A 1992 thriller starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone that was also edited down from its original version to get the R-rating.
  3. American Pie: A 1999 teenage sex romp that had to be heavily edited to earn its R-rating.
  4. The Brown Bunny: This 2003 film earned its rating after getting booed in Cannes because of the final scene -- a long, drawn out oral sex scene (not simulated) between the two stars, Chloe Sevigny and Vincent Gallo.
  5. The Devil's Rejects: A Rob Zombie horror film that is graphically violent and depraved. The film was edited for an R.
  6. The Hills Have Eyes: The 2006 horror remake was graphically violent and gory. It was also edited for an R-rating.
  7. Kids: In 1995, this film about NYC youth earned an NC-17 rating and was ultimately released without a rating.
  8. Last Tango in Paris: Rated X in 1973, the film was later released as an edited version for an R-rating in 1981 and in 1997 was changed to NC-17.
  9. Monster's Ball: This Halle Berry drama had to be edited for the R-rating.
  10. Pulp Fiction: This violent movie had to be heavily edited to earn an R-rating after initially getting an NC-17.

Would you go see an NC-17 movie?


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