There are several reasons why this month’s Sexiest Males Alive list is historic, the least of which is that this is the first ever February edition of the SMA. More importantly, we have a new #1. And not just a change of frontrunner, but one who has never before been in the top spot. Thus, after Jesse McCartney, Hunter Parrish, Zac Efron and Emile Hirsch, we welcome Logan Lerman to this exclusive club of winners. Fresh off his eighteenth birthday, he’s also the youngest guy ever to hold that position; the guy who has taken the longest way to the top (he debuted at #27 – McCartney has never been below #12; Parrish #6; Efron #8; Hirsch #12), and he’s only the second (Hunter Parrish was the other) to climb from #5 to #1 in one month. Sure, some of these firsts are minor, but there’s still a sense of history in the air.
The fact that it was somewhat unexpected only adds to the excitement. I knew that February’s Percy Jackson premiere would make him a contender for the top three, but it takes something really special to dethrone Emile Hirsch, and to fight off challengers like Efron and Parrish. That special something came in the form of rumors that he’s in negotiations to play the lead in the upcoming Spider-Man reboot. [Correction: It turns out those rumors were mostly created by Lerman himself. He has reportedly not been talking with the production company, but he really wants them to know he’d be thrilled to be asked.] Had you asked me a couple of years ago if I though that kid from Jack & Bobby was on the verge of teen superstardom in the immediate future, I would have said no, but that doesn’t mean I’m not delighted that I could now be happening. From his Jack & Bobby days, Logan has also built up that loyalty that has repeatedly shown its value on the SMA. And did I mention he now looks like this? Lost. For. Words.
Let me take a minute to talk about age, though. I always feel a little queasy about including people under the age of eighteen on the list, and that’s part of the reason why Lerman broke through the final glass ceiling this particular month (he turned 18 in January). Same goes for Taylor Lautner, the Twillight star who has been simmering just below SMA level for much of the last year. He turns 18 in a couple of days, and again, that’s part of the reason why this is the month he finally breaks into the SMA, at a Newcomer of the Month-worthy #20. And these two aren’t even the youngest: Nick Jonas, climbing four spots this month, is a mere seventeen. I don’t know if this should be an issue, but it is, for me. It may be odd, or even hypocritical of me – I compile a monthly Sexiest Males Alive list, for God’s sake, and in that way I broadcast my prefences to the wider world – to question whether I’m contributing to an unhealthy sexualization of teen celebrities, but I had to get it out there. It’s not like the culture at large isn’t doing so already, or that these teens and their agents aren’t c0nciously using it to their advantage, but that doesn’t mean I have to play along, does it? But, on the other hand; wouldn’t it have seeped in eventually anyway? I don’t keep myself from including people because I’m afraid my readers will think they’re just plain ugly, so should I deem 17 year-olds ineligible? Discuss. In time, I suspect such mild self-censorship would make the SMA less honest, and thus less interesting.
Closing the seminar section, Taylor Lautner is accompanied in the newcomer department by Cory Monteith of Glee and British actor Andrew Garfield. I’m unsure about how hot Monteith really is, but he’s so charming on the show (which I’ll hopefully post about next week) he deserves a chance to prove himself. He’s not unconventional by a long shot, but there’s something not quite conventional about him, either. Time will tell if that turns out to be a plus or not. Garfield is in the news with the US release of the Red Riding trilogy, and you may have seen the Brit and his sexily shy smile in Robert Redford dull talkathon Lions for Lambs. The reason for his introduction on the SMA, however, is the haunting drama Boy A (2007), that I saw a couple of weeks ago. They are joined by no less than three returnees; Gareth Bale, the Tottenham defender who has finally cracked the starting eleven again; Chris Pine, of the recently rewatched Star Trek reboot; and Jody Latham, of British television’s Shameless. In a month light on surges, Chris Lowell’s five spot rise, courtesy of his very small part in Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air, lands him the Climber of the Month title.
On the opposite side of the scale, Alex Pettyfer’s January slide continues, almost to the point of relegation, a truly stunning reversal of fortune for the actor, who has a personal best as high as #9. It”s hard to point to one particular reason for the collapse, but he needs to reverse it, and quickly. The returnees should serve as proof that all”s not neccesarily lost if you fall off, but very few have regained their previous strength upon re-entry. Michael Cera is a case in point. Last month he finally clawed his way back, only to fall off again immediately. The prospects don”t look too good for Jonathan Groff either, at least not in the short run. More noteworthy, though, is that three veterans of the SMA, Ryan Phillippe, Fernando Torres and Brady Corbet, all bid farewell in February. Apart from the atypical first SMA, on which Corbet was ranked very high, they have been living proof that you can enjoy a long life in the lower tiers. That willingness to buck expectations should of course keep us from making bold predictions about their futures. Matt Lanter also fell off this month.
As always, the changes on the list are usually caused by any particular guy being considered by me to be relatively more attractive than he was considered last month. That, however, of course doesn’t necessarily mean that any of the other people on this list have become markedly less attractive, only that they perhaps have not been as good at getting my attention lately.
So, let’s break it down:
#1-10: Apart for the big news on the top, it has been a quiet month in the top tier. In a way it felt like it was just another month in the awards season. Generally speaking, it’s a standstill between Zac Efron and Nick Hoult (they’re both out with movies, Me and Orson Welles and A Single Man, that has garnered some notice in that regard), but Nick still drops somewhat, courtesy mostly of a recent interview with The Observer. Sure, I like that he’s down to earth and all that, but he seems so uncomfortable with the whole movie star thing that he’s very close to ruining its central premise; that we idolize them for being glamorous. It’s all based upon the notion that they actually like what they’re doing. I’m not sure Nick does, at least not at the moment. It’s a little depressing, really. Or it could of course just be the annoyingly self-promoting interviewer framing it that way. Anyway, I’m not quite sold on him with short hair. Efron, on the other hand, was an early favorite for the February title, and as usual, he lost it more due to the strength of the competition than anything he did.
The internal shuffles within the top ten are mostly undramatic, but I should quickly ask you not to read too much into Hunter Parrish’s slight fall. I still have unseen Weeds episodes to get through, and while celebrity Twitter feeds generally are a drag, the mere fact that he has one assures that his beautiful face will continue to stay within view. Plus, I might still go see It’s Complicated, despite not knowing how much screen tim he has. Don’t hold my gayness against me. He will have no problem with getting exposure, and with someone like him, I doubt if the term overexposure even exists.
One of his former rivals for top honors, Jesse McCartney, may soon be back in the running. He’s rebounding steadily from a late 2009 slump, climbing to #7. My friend Bryan once asked me whether I judge old celebrity crushes mostly based on what I initially liked about them, or what they look like today. It’s not always a clear case, and with Jesse the difference is not stark, but part of the reason why he’s mounting a mini comeback now, is because I have been reminded of what I fell for during his Summerland days. Memories can be a powerful thing, and I wouldn’t bet on it ending here.
Speaking of the good old days, I surprised myself by not moving Mitch Hewer up. Looking through my archive I came across this absolutely adorable Cosmopolitan video, and man, that smile just melts me every time. I’d give it some time, to see if it might only be that I need some extra time to fully fathom his hotness. That said, and it’s not the first time I say this either, he could of course help speed things along by landing a new gig, or alternately, by helping me erase the memory of his horrendous hair on Britannia High. Your move, Mitch. One who is moving aggressively to make inroads on the SMA (or at least so I’d like to think), is Hewer’s Skins successor, Luke Pasqualino. The fourth season just got underway in Britain, and while no smoking gun (or pictures, anyway) has yet come to my attention, I trust the creative forces enough to know they’ll soon throw me a bone (metaphorically speaking, of course). He’s in good shape for the long haul. Any haul, really.
#11-20: The rise of Nick Jonas is mostly due to the release of his rather dull solo album Who I Am. Even if his voice isn’t quite cut out for soul music, it’s still curiously enticing. And I just have to admire his guts. This is really not the album I would have expected from him. I actually think he could have gone even higher on the list, but this being the month of counterproductive interviews (see Hoult, Nicholas, or Ford jr., Harold), his responses to Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire annoyed me quite a bit. My ‘stupid purity ring’-dar went off when he answered ‘helicopters’ when asked about his biggest fear. I approach this in one of two ways, neither of which are positive: Either I write it off as a cutesy, seemingly spontaneous and down-to-earth but utterly rehearsed answer aimed at getting sympathy from his core demographic, as if Vanity Fair was a teen mag (there’s nothing threatening in saying ‘helicopters’; superficially original, maybe, but it’s really basically equal to saying ‘heights’ or ‘snakes’). Or the ‘he really doesn’t have anything worse to fear?’ reaction. For a guy as boringly on message for his other answers, I sort of expected him to stick with that, and say something half-serious like ‘That something bad happens to my friends or my family‘. Ask Harold Ford jr.; helicopters are not particularly useful if you’re trying to level with regular folk. Still, I should cut him some slack and let him enjoy his SMA success. At 17, he has plenty of time to become totally predictable.
It seems the immediate glow of Jesse Eisenberg spectacular Fall is starting to fade, and with February’s eight-spot slide, he is gradually coming down to a level closer to his previous showings, although #19 is still quite high for him. As the go-to-guy for geeky smarts on the SMA, he’s still well-position to benefit from my recent purchase of Adventureland, and expected repeat viewings of Zombieland. He has created a very specific niche for himself on here that means he’ll be in constant demand, until someone else steps up to replace him. And with David Fincher’s Facebook movie underway, he’s in no trouble, despite the tumble.
Elsewhere, Taylor Hanson’s continued progress is worth noting. In the shadow of Zac, he has been rising steadily for months, to the point where I now think they’re improving each other’s prospects in equal measure. That said, SMA history offers up several examples of guys who have been lifted up on the list on the basis of momentum itself (Adam Brody, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Ed Speelers, Zac Hanson etc.). It doesn’t make their progress any less worthy, but perhaps a little more fragile. But by now we of course also know that the most important predictor of future performance probably is his ability to keep on my radar. Thus, his future looks bright, with a new Hanson album expected in late spring, and the simple fact I still listen to them almost daily. Those two factors also help explain why his fortunes seem to be tied quite closely to those of his younger brother.
In all, there’s not much bad news to report. There a slight fall here and there, or a gain of one or two spots, but nothing that seems to predict long-term changes. Still, it’s quite impressive by Chace Crawford to hold up so well in his second month after January’s comeback. His very hotness was questioned not long ago, and we knew that the second month after a return often is the hardest one. Most important, though, it doesn’t seem like he has been from my abandoning Gossip Girl. That may indicate that he will be able to make a stand independent of that show in the future. High School Musical‘s Matt Prokop is keeping momentum on his side, although he is actually only the third-highest Disney Channel guy, behind the steady Ricky Ullman (who, with Chris Egan and Ryan Sheckler forms a trio of relative stability just below the #10 mark) and the aforementioned Nick Jonas.
#21-30: I have already credited his quick presence in Up in the Air with explaining Chris Lowell’s progress this month, but if we are, yet again, to try to understand what forces are driving the movement on this list, and suspect this is a too limited explanation. Rather, I think it is because this way of getting my attention prompted me to do a picture search on him, which reaffirmed my feeling that he is one very good-looking guy. If he ever gets a bigger role, no one knows how far he could go. Also solidly in the positive is Randy Harrison, who builds on his good re-entry numbers. The American version of Queer as Folk may not have been as good as the British original (whose alum Charlie Hunnam is experiencing an unexpected mini-revival, climbing to #21.), but it should be applauded for daring to show gay life in a way that had not even been attempted before. Plus, a little skin never hurts. Harrison showed plenty.
Lumping people together is rarely fair, but many of this month’s twentysomethings share the experience of defending their standings on the SMA from a position of not doing much business at the moment. For a guy like Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who has been mostly silent for a decade, February was a good month, as he climbs back into the top thirty. News are not as cheery for Tyler Hoechlin and Lucas Till, however. Hoechlin, still best known for playing Martin Brewer on 7th Heaven, drops to a personal worst at #24, probably due to underexposure, while Till may now be starting to see the effect of my second viewing of Hannah Montana: The Movie in December. Screen time normally means potential gain, but not if the movie is as awful as this one. It may be a stretch to say that Leonardo DiCaprio is a textbook example of how to build on screen time, since he’s actually falling three spots from his Titanic-inflated January showing, but at least it’s a fairly minor slide. His earlier surges have seen far more significant drop-offs than this one, and the upcoming Shutter Island should make him capable of consolidating his current position, at the very least.
#31-40: While it’s probably true that no one in the history of the SMA has gotten more out of a movie than Ed Speleers did from Eragon, that experience was not enough to save him from sliding into the 30’s for the first time in a very long time. He is joined by Jamie Bell, who should immediately use his American contacts to land him a role poised to take him out of this middling company. When I said middling, however, I was of course of only refering to this section of the list itself, and not the generally very fine-looking young men who inhabit it. Glee‘s Cory Monteith makes a solid debut, but he needs good writing to keep his name hot. If his character on the show takes a wrong turn, he could be vulnerable, because I’m still not sure how physically attractive he is. He should be safe in the short term, though, as his cute voice is in my ears almost on a daily basis at the moment, courtesy of the show’s soundtrack. But on a different note; I know the Olympics are coming up, but why didn’t Fox program new Glee episodes for January, to shorten the hiatus somewhat? I miss it.
Before we move on, I just wanted to give a shout-out to two guys who seem to have stabilized on the list, despite rocky previous histories. For Corbin Bleu, it was vital to learn the lessons of fellow HSMers Zac Efron and Matt Prokop, not Lucas Grabeel (who fell right off after making the list last spring). But if the franchise alone doesn’t fully explain why he has settled in, maybe it is because he has kept himself very busy over the last several months. Sure, his TV show The Beautiful Life got canceled almost immediately, but it helped introduce a new and improved Corbin. And now he has moved on to actually making his Broadway debut this April, in the musical In the Heights. I’ll never be able to see it, of course, but I’ll be on the lookout for pictures.
At what may very well be the exact opposite end of the actor-musician scale, Jay Brannan, while taking a slight dive, looks like he’s on to stay this time. He continues to present new music through various platforms, and he is an ever-present and thoroughly unpredictable producer of tweets. His tale of clawing his way back into good SMA company is not unique by any means, but from the tone of his tweets, he sounds like a guy who could use a reminder that there are indeed people out there who like him. In more ways than one, even. Consider this my offer of support.
#41-50: If Chace Crawford took this month to prove that he could build a SMA career without the support of my actively watching Gossip Girl, Ed Westwick’s eight-spot decline indicates that he is not in the same position. With the exception of Alex Pettyfer, the unpredictable Westwick has the most to lose from this month’s ranking, and the pattern is ominous for both of them. Pettyfer’s fall is terryfyingly deep, but it might be even more worrisome that I’m unable to explain why it happened in any coherent way. It’s not only positive momentum that has shown itself to build on itself, which should be considered bad news for Pettyfer, who started his slide late last year.
It feels like I’m repeating myself, but in January, yet another big tennis tournament (Australian Open) passed by, with Rafael Nadal incapable of capitalizing on the attention given to him. And he was actually among the lucky of the fortysomethings, most of whom didn’t have the benefit of wall-to-wall coverage. In fluctuations that are unlikely to affect the long term, former Home and Away star Mitch Firth finally saw some progress, and Dougie Poynter continues to take baby steps away from the relegation zone, mostly because the web is abound with pictures of him shirtless. They could have made him serious fodder for the Jamie Bell part of my brain, had it not been for his dedication to messing up his body with hideous tattoos.
Speaking of the relegation zone, though, Shad Moss’ steady decline has now brought him to the brink. The fates of people like Fernando Torres, Brady Corbet and Ryan Phillipe are unlikely to give him much pause, as they could all draw from emotional loyalty (Torres from playing for Liverpool, Corbet from Mysterious Skin, and Phillipe from his days as an Early Gay Crush) that has previously been unavailable to him.
- Logan Lerman (Previous ranking: 5)
- Zac Efron (3)
- Emile Hirsch (1)
- Zac Hanson (6)
- Hunter Parrish (2)
- Nick Hoult (4)
- Jesse McCartney (10)
- Luke Pasqualino (7)
- David Gallagher (9)
- Mitch Hewer (8)
- Raviv Ullman (12)
- Ryan Sheckler (14)
- Chris Egan (13)
- Nick Jonas (18)
- Taylor Hanson (19)
- Kevin Zegers (16)
- Chace Crawford (15)
- Matt Prokop (22)
- Jesse Eisenberg (11)
- Taylor Lautner (new)
- Charlie Hunnam (25)
- Chris Lowell (27)
- Joe Jonas (20)
- Tyler Hoechlin (17)
- Randy Harrison (28)
- Ryan Donowho (23)
- Leonardo DiCaprio (24)
- Lucas Till (19)
- Gaspard Ulliel (26)
- Jonathan Taylor Thomas (33)
- Ed Speleers (29)
- Jamie Bell (30)
- Cory Monteith (new)
- Adam Brody (31)
- Corbin Bleu (34)
- Sean Faris (32)
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt (38)
- Jay Brannan (36)
- Andrew Garfield (new)
- Rhys Wakefield (40)
- Dougie Poynter (42)
- Gareth Bale (RE)
- Mitch Firth (45)
- William Moseley (43)
- Ed Westwick (37)
- Rafael Nadal (46)
- Jody Latham (RE)
- Chris Pine (RE)
- Alex Pettyfer (35)
- Shad Moss (44)
I’m thrilled to see Logan at number one , I caught him on Tv the other doing an interview , it was in HD , and i was struck by how good looking he actually is , if that makes sense .
I think your comments about age are really interesting , I wonder has there been a young movie star at 17 who has been so ‘ objectified ‘ by the media . I think Boo Boo stewart for example looks stunning , but for me I think he’s a bit too young to post at 16 on Dreamboats , at the moment . So I end up sort of censoring myself which I think is not a bad thing .
Thanks for your comment, Jay. I watched ‘Percy Jackson’ yesterday, and while I thought the movie itself was laughably bad, Logan was just stunningly beautiful. I certainly hope he lands the role as the next Spider-Man.
As for the most objectified star of today, I’d nominate Taylor Lautner post ‘New Moon’.
No one wanted to see “Percy Jackson…” with me so I guess I’ll just wait for it on DVD. My friends claim that it looks too much like a “Harry Potter”-wannabe. Is that true?
I still can’t see Logan in that way. I saw him on GAMER (terrible), which I didn’t expect because I saw it for Michael C. Hall (DEXTER fan). He looks wayyy too young to me.
Jack O’Connell > Luke Pasqualino
I just like them bad-ass.
I can understand your friends’ reluctance to go to see ‘Percy Jackson’. I only saw it for Logan, and I knew it was going to be awful, which it was (and then some). The Harry Potter comparison is apt in all too many ways, except that most of the Potter movies have actually been quite good. I hope it doesn’t get a sequel, because I’d have felt like I had to see it for Logan. He just does it for me, I guess.
I smiled at your ‘Gamer’ comment. Our actor fandom can lead us astray sometimes, can’t it? I meant to see ‘Gamer’, again for Logan, but I don’t doubt for a second that it’s awful. I generally don’t have any luck when I watch a movie for any specific. Sure, DiCaprio movie are almost always worth it, not least because he’s always so good. But there are plenty of bad experiences from this approach; I watched ‘Speed Racer’ for Emile (I know you kinda liked it, but for me it was just painfully stupid) and ‘Jumper’ for Jamie Bell (loved him in ‘Mister Foe’, ‘Billy Elliot’ and ‘Dear Wendy’, but UGGH); even ‘Valentine’s Day’ for Taylor Lautner, and they were all awful. Only counter-evidence I can point to is ‘It’s Complicated’, which I saw for Hunter Parrish. Despite some flaws, it’s an eminently enjoyable romantic comedy.
I look forward to catching the fourth season of ‘Skins’ soon, but to me, O’Connell is not in Pasqualino’s league. Maybe it’s my geek gene talking, but I actually think Ollie Barbieri is kinda cute.
Ollie is cute in a geek chic kind of way. I kind of love him. Pasqualino is kind of boring to me. Yeah, he looks exotic but… I mean, that’s all I see. O’Connell, on the other hand, has that edge. But of course, all of these things are based on the characters they play. lol. I hope there’ll be Skins season 5. The show needed more focus ever since season 3.
I agree that it’s pretty much impossible to divorce their appeal from the characters they play, but that’s also part of the reason why I like Barbieri and Pasqualiano over O’Connell. Based on Season 3, I didn’t like the Cook character at all. Based on your previous comment, I gather he’s set to continue in that vein?
i loved seeing the list and reading your logic behind it :) But i got to say i wish fewer lists were made of sexiness and teens. How about we wait till they are more like 21. like drinking legal :) *wink*
I don’t really know how to defend myself against this, so I won’t. I’m guilty. I don’t know if helps that I’m aware of it, but I tried to discuss it above. (Or that the legal age for drinking in Norway is 18?)
I don’t feel good about contributing to the sexualization of teens, and as I said, even though these people are branded as such, that doesn’t mean I have to go along with that and continue to hype them. I just have to keep it honest, and hope that people see that I don’t mean anything bad by it.