The year's most powerful nudity in film – Salon

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The following contains spoilers for the films examined that feature nude characters.
Two documentaries that played only on the festival circuit this year crystalized some of the attitudes about nudity on display in films in 2022. The immersive, observational film, “Naked Gardens,” set in a Florida naturist community, featured subjects of all ages and sizes unclothed almost all the time doing everything from cooking to using power tools. It celebrated being naked in a safe space where people weren’t eroticized. It also considered issues about body image.
In contrast, “Body Parts,” was a cogent, eye-opening analysis of how women’s bodies are presented in Hollywood films and television. The documentary shows how nudity was often expected from actresses, and getting naked on screen was often done as a way of “paying their dues” as performers. However, even with contracts and nudity riders, women had to lobby for intimacy coordinators and protection against harassment. Many subjects in the film discuss having to “disassociate” from their bodies to “get through” having to perform a nude or sex scene. The film made viewers feel for the actresses having to be vulnerable on screen.
These two insightful points of view influence reactions to actors who dared to bare all on screen in 2022. There has always been a fascination at seeing performers unclothed. But sometimes it can feel exploitative. 
Full nudity can be used for comic effect — Simon Rex’s bare-assed run in “Red Rocket,” which opened late last year, proved that. But nudity can also make audiences uncomfortable. “Blonde” was hardly sexy as Norma Jeane/Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas) was sexually abused by a number of men.  
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Nudity in cinema this year ranged from empowering to discomfiting. What made a handful of films that featured full nude scenes so impactful in 2022 was how they were used to prompt audiences to react emotionally and think about what the nudity meant and represented. It was integral for each character. These six films below were not exploitative, but rather, they implicated the viewer into sharing the characters’ experiences and forced them to think and feel something that could be either pleasurable, empowering or shocking. 
Let’s take a look.
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Gary M. Kramer is a writer and film critic based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter.
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