From 'Shame' to 'Showgirls,' why the MPAA's highest rating is no badge of dishonor
3. “Requiem for a Dream” (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)
When the MPAA stamped Aronofsky’s sophomore feature with the NC-17 badge – for crimes including “intense depiction of drug addiction, graphic sexuality, strong language and some violence” – the director refused to make cuts, opting to go the unrated route instead. His reward was a film that wound up becoming something of a Generation Y touchstone, and the first with its rating to receive Oscar recognition in an above-the-line category. The film lays on its transgressions pretty thick – that final sequence, throwing in everything from rough sex to electroshock therapy, surely put it over the edge with the board – but no Hubert Selby adaptation has any business playing safe.