June’s SMA Winner, Three Years In The Making

Once intended to be a monthly feature, and fulfilled as such  for the first year or so, there has not been a new Sexiest Males Alive list since October 2010. As the longest running feature of this blog, and by far the one that has garnered the most traffic over the years, it seems only fitting to return to the SMA now, as the month of its third anniversary is drawing to a close. Looking back at that first list, it’s clear to me that I didn’t really know yet what I wanted the SMA to be, but even then, I showed myself prone to the kind of prognostications that has made later installments more or less a parade of corrections and promises of future success. In that vein, I predicted that Skins co-stars Nicholas Hoult and Mitch Hewer could plausibly both see themselves topping SMA before long, all the while I was congratulating Jesse McCartney as the first winner of the title. Three years on, Hoult and Hewer’s trajectories on the SMA now differ wildly.

While Hewer experienced his worst showing on the SMA to date, Hoult is now finally ready to take the top spot, courtesy of his turn as Hank McCoy in Matthew Vaughn’s wonderful X-Men: First Class. Sure, it’s still a little weird to hear him speak with an American accent, but as in A Single Man, it’s quite sexy, too. And that guy is just beautiful. Plus, those eyeglasses make him look like the world’s hottest academic, and as we’ve noted before on here, brainy people are sexy. Elsewhere, it is, perhaps unsurprisingly, given the long wait since the last edition, a rather tumultuous list, with lots of dramatic rises and steep falls to get to. The most noteworthy in either category is Lucas Till, who rockets up a massive 23 spots, to #16, on the strength of his muscular (ahem) presence alongside Hoult in X-Men. On the negative side, skateboarder and ex-reality TV star Ryan Sheckler has a near collapse, dropping from #13 to #43, It may seem arbitrary to punish Sheckler, an otherwise very attractive young man, for his penchant for soiling his body with tattoos – seeing as several people even in the top ten also have tattoos – but in Sheckler’s case they have become so big and so many that they threaten to ruin the visual pleasure his used to give me. I think a thirty-place drop with in the top fifty is unprecented, but so long as he hangs on, there’s of course a chance of the oft-seen rapid SMA bounce-back.

A significant part of the raucousness of this month’s SMA is due to the huge number of newcomers and returnees. Several of them are even featured very high on the list. Of the four newcomers, three – Swedish Eurovision contestant and Disney Channel Nordic anchor Eric Saade, filmmaker/actor Xavier Dolan (Heartbeats) and Wizards of Waverly Place love-interest Gregg Sulkin – place in the twenties, with Glee‘s Harry Shum jr. rounding it out at #42. Previous SMA acquiantances include Andrew Garfield, finally given his chance to cash in on his star turn in The Social Network; Thomas Dekker, propelled by his leading role in Gregg Araki’s trippy Kaboom; Jeremy Sumpter, whose sudden rise I can’t quite explain; and Chace Crawford, perhaps predictably benefiting from the research I did for a recent post about his potential un-sexiness. Since the last outing, we’ve lost Matt Prokop of High School Musical 3, French actor Gaspard Ulliel, soccer players Fernando Torres (due for the most part to his move from Liverpool to semi-arch-rival Chelsea) and Lukas Podolski, nineties heartthrob Ryan Phillippe, and Brady Corbett, who was evidently not helped by his exposure in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. Most notably, though, Joe Jonas slipped off the list from a seemingly comfortable #30 showing last October. But have you seen the guy lately? It’s one thing that I’ve been unimpressed with the first single off his new solo album, but more importantly, he has chosen a look that to my eyes most resembles George Michael, circa 1996. Not good.

As always, the changes on the list are usually attributable to a 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.

#1-10: With the long wait between installments, it was to be expected that even the top tier was shaken up somewhat. It was X-Men: First Class that settled the #1 question in Hoult’s favor, but since I saw it, his position has been further strenghtened by my rewatching Tom Ford’s A Single Man. It’s a beautiful movie which I have seen six times by now, and Hoult is perfect as the mysterious Adonis Kenny Potter. Hoult’s strongest rival long looked it was going to be Taylor Lautner, a yoyo on the SMA, now more than taking back the six spots he slipped last time, but due to the timing of it all, Zac Hanson managed to sneak past him. Sure, the Breaking Dawn trailer didn’t disappoint, with a view of a shirtless Lautner within the first forty seconds, but as you should have become used to by now, the youngest Hanson holds a special place in my heart. The inclusion of a DVD of concert highlights with the release of Shout It Out in the UK earlier this month, Hanson took #2.

Last October, that was the spot Chris Egan commanded, after a meteoric rise from #14, mostly a reflection of his exposure in the mediocre Letters to Juliet. The Egan bubble is deflated somewhat this month, but at #8, he still registers his second-best SMA showing ever. Also sliding is Hunter Parrish, the most recent #1, but with competition like this, some fluctuation in popularity is inevitable. I’m not sure if I need it, but the new season of Weeds is likely to make him a contender again soon. Elsewhere, the news are mostly somewhere between unexciting and positive. Emile Hirsch and Logan Lerman both drop slightly, whereas Nick Jonas, Jesse Eisenberg and Zac Efron post healthy gains. Lerman was hamstrung by the awful trailer for the decidedly awful-looking The Three Musketeers, which make him look like he was transplanted from an androgynous eighties hair-metal band. Eisenberg is capitalizing on The Social Network to parallell his best showing on the SMA in three years, while Jonas simply has done his best to keep his beautiful face out there. He was last seen (unconvincingly) touting the merits of Joe’s solo album.

I’m glad to welcome Zac Efron back in the game, after a time when even his very hotness was in question. For a while, he had this rougher look, which might excite some people, but not me. Lately, he has been returning to his gorgeous self, and his five spot rise was consolidated when I rewatched 17 Again this week. Before you go in for the kill, let me make two quick comments: 1) 17 Again is not a great movie, but apart from it’s opening and final 10 minutes, it’s actually good fun, and 2) I was watching it after having consumed a handful of Ingmar Bergman movies in fairly rapid succession. After The Virgin Spring (1960) and The Seventh Seal (1957), I simply needed something uncomplicated to clear my head. The beautiful Zac did the trick. One note for Mr. Efron, though: There’s no guarantee that 17 Again or High School Musical will continue to save you on the SMA forever, so might I suggest doing a decent movie again soon? Charlie St. Cloud was just inexcusable.

#11-20: Speaking of movies that won’t save you from the harsh realities of SMA life forever, First Class came in just the right time for Lucas Till, the sensation of the second tier. Till had been floating on his role as the cute farm boy in Hannah Montana: The Movie for a couple years, and with the memory of that bad movie fading, he looked like a likely elimination prospect until X-Men showed up. SMA fame is often short-lived, but a 24-spot rise like the one Till managed, should help him lay the groundwork for a prosperous future on the upper half of this list. In other good news, Chris Colfer, who was actually a newcomer all those months ago when this list was last published, used the intervening months well, to rocket up to #14. I know Colfer is not everyone’s idea of a sexy man, but I love everything about him. I find him attractive in a kind of tender way, and he seems like a genuinely nice and funny guy. Everytime I watch an interview or something like that, he just comes off as so smart and humble. And he’s apparently a man of letters as well, having landed a book contract. Again, brains are sexy.

In other positive news, Xavier Samuel, probably best known for his role in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, is finally ready to cash in on the momentum he got when I watched the acceptable Australian drama Newcastle late last year. As a bonus, he was even naked in a brief scene in that movie. Samuel, who, alongside Lautner, is one of the reasons why I’ve now seen Eclipse three times even though I don’t particularly like it, seems like a guy willing to challenge himself a little, also starring, beautifully, in a gay-themed short film included in the British Boys on Film series of short film compilations. He is joined by Raviv Ullman among the notables on the plus side. Like Samuel, Ullman is given credit for something he did years ago, but I was immediately reinfatuated with the former Phil of the Future star when I saw a couple of episodes of his Nickelodeon sitcom Rita Rocks. Of course, the show has since been cancelled, and it isn’t even in reruns anymore, so the momentum could be temporary.

Even among the guys who experienced a slight drop, the news weren’t all that bad. Sure, David Gallagher got bumped from the top ten, but his #11 is roughly on par with his usual performance. Plus, new photos from a recent press junket indicates that his years outside the spotlight has done little to reduce his attractiveness. Granted, I’m no fan of facial hair, but the former Simon Camden is one of those people who can pull it off without alienating me forever. (Like I suspect Joe Jonas just did, see above) Also, he’s reportedly in Super 8. Jesse McCartney six-spot drop has him back at the exact place he was a year ago, and even here some recent picture were sufficiently intiguing for me to look for a place for him higher on the list. If the list had not been more or less settled by the time the images surfaced, he could have clawed himself into the top ten.

Finally, I wanted to give a shout-out to Andrew Garfield and Sterling Knight. Garfield made a brief appearance on the SMA about a year ago, after I had watched him in Boy A, but future SMA historians will tell you that his breakthrough came with The Social Network. On top of that, he was fantastic in the British film Never Let Me Go, reminding me of how much I love British accents. Garfield’s trajectory on this month’s list was the opposite of Jesse McCartney’s, though, in that he actually started out higher, and was gradually pushed to the lower half of the second tier. On the bright side, Never Let Me Go is released on DVD this week, and I will continue to rewatch The Social Network, so he’ll have no problems staying on my radar. In the case of Sterling Knight, I wanted to congratulate on defending his #20 showing, an impressive feat when compared to many others who have started out high on the SMA, only to fall to earth more or less immediately. Like Efron, Knight was a beneficiary of my renewed interest in 17 Again, and I got to admit I also recently rewatched the decent Disney Channel movie Starstruck.

#21-30: The upper 20s have lots of news to report. I’ve had my eyes on Eric Saade for some time, but he didn’t rise to SMA-worthy material until he became the Swedish contender at May’s Eurovision Song Contest. Saade, who looks rather like a young Ricky Martin (insert joke here), has been a poster boy for the Scandinavian Disney Channel for a couple of years now, with a simmering pop career on the side. He’s gorgeous in a classic sense, and his Eurovision song, Popular, which I found quite grating at first, is actually starting to warm on me. I must caution that people who are carrying onto the SMA  at the strength of an event like Eurovision potentially could have trouble keeping my attention if they don’t branch out. For now, though, Eric Saade is an impressive addition to the SMA roster. He is joined in the newcomer ranks by Gregg Sulkin, whose breakthrough came with the American Disney Channel, playing Selena Gomez’ love interest on Wizards Of Waverly Place and headlining the disappointing King Arthur-inspired movie Avalon High. A potential for Sulkin, a guy relentlessly promoted by Jay over at Dreamboats, is that he hails from Britain. Like I said, I’m a sucker for British accents (see Mitch Hewer, Jamie Bell, Daniel Radcliffe).

Speaking of Mitch Hewer, I’ve already mentioned that this was not his best month. Despite a full treatment in the pages of Troix magazine, he drops to a substantial 12 places, to #25. I don’t know exactly why I’m not as attracted to him as I was a couple years ago, but I think part of it has to do with a gloomier appearance. He needs to smile more. It’s he’s trying to show that he’s gotten older and wiser by playing down the natural charm that made him a star in the first place, it’s not working. There are few things I’d like more than welcoming the old, more carefree Mitch Hewer back. Someone who seems to have taken the opposite existential journey is Thomas Dekker, the former 7th Heaven, Heroes and Sarah Connor Chronichles star who reportedly was advised to drop out of Heroes because of a certain vibe some people got from his character on the show (a show I never watched, I might add.) Yet here we are some years on, and in Gregg Araki weird doomsday comedy Kaboom, Dekker apparently decided to double down on the gay vibes, playing a sexually fluid film student. Mysterious Skin still is Araki’s sole masterpiece, but I’m looking forward to seeing Kaboom again, not least because Dekker seemed so comfortable in the film’s polyamorous landscape. Also, Dekker made another exception to the rule that says I don’t find facial hair sexy. Kudos.

Staying with the subject of returnees, there’s no real reason why Jeremy Sumpter has suddenly re-emerged, at #28, but he has. I’ve said before that I should get around to Friday Night Lights, a show where he became a recurring character, I just never have. Then, some weeks ago new pictures of him started popping up at celebrity forums, and I was hooked again. Like Sumpter, Tyler Hoechlin has sudden exposure to thank for his showing at this month’s SMA. That might not sound so positive for a guy who slipped from #19 to #26, but his supporting role on MTV’s Teen Wolf at least prevented him from slipping further. I don’t know whether the show will get picked up for a second season (I haven’t even seen it yet), but the promos and pictures has certainly reignited my fascination with the hunky Hoechlin, who looks like a good fit for a werewolf.

In addition to brains, I’ve always been drawn to ambitious and multi-talented people, and particular if they are also physically attractive. Xavier Dolan, the gorgeous writer/actor/director behind the festival hit Heartbeats (2010) checks all these boxes, and thus was an obvious fit for the SMA. It also helps that his movie is a very sensual piece of filmmaking, that loving lingers on its good-looking cast, almost to the point of drooling. I knew I did. In closing, young British rocker Dougie Poynter, an oft-scantly clad Jamie Bell look-alike of McFly, drops by five #27, while Chris Lowell is down a more substantial thirteen spots, to a still secure #29.

#31-40: The thirties are rather depressing this month, although few of them seem to be in danger of immediate relegation. I retain a healthy dose of love and loyalty for the cutie Charlie Hunnam once was, but June was the month when his current look finally came back to bite him. His role as a biker on Sons of Anarchy has forced him to grow a beard and grow his hair long, and it’s really not an ideal look for him. Deep down, I’ll always remember him from Queer as Folk and Undeclared, though, so he could of course see his star rise again. Another previous contender for the top fifteen, Kevin Zegers, similarly takes a dive this month, though his is more a result of stiff competition and little exposure than anything he did. I named him for my Young Leonardos post two years ago solely on the basis of Transamerica, and now he really needs to do something to make himself relevant again. The same goes for Ryan Donowho, formerly of The O.C. and Imaginary Heroes. I’d love to see more of him, but he can’t rest on his laurels forever.

I was a little surprised that guys like Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Taylor Hanson and Jamie Bell didn’t fare better than they did. All have gotten ample exposure in recent months – JTT from my rewatching Man of the House; Bell from his supporting role in the new Jane Eyre and Taylor from Hanson’s Best of 5 DVD – but it might be that it just takes some time to show itself. To his defense, I should say that JTT at least climbed one spot, and Jamie Bell’s showing was at least on par with previous levels. Dropping by eleven is a steep fall for Taylor, particularly since he has had a tendency to benefit from a good month for his younger brother, but I wouldn’t fear for his SMA status just yet. He’s an Hanson, after all. At some point, the loyalty factor will come back into play, and then he could be in for a rise.

#41-50: The bottom tier is the story of hot guy slipping for no apparent reason. To the contrary, Rafael Nadal, Randy Harrison and Adam Brody all could just as easily have been moving up on the SMA. Nadal won the French Open recenly, and he’s playing at Wimbledon as I write this. Harrison’s star turn in the US version of Queer as Folk virtually guarantees that he will fight his way back in the near future, and I find Brody endearing enough to rewatch old episodes of The O.C. at least semi-regularly. Maybe he could get a boost when Scream 4 is released on DVD? As things stand now, however, all these post unimpressive showings; Nadal and Harrison are both down nine, whereas Brody slides a solid fifteen spots. That said, even that pales compared to Ryan Sheckler’s collapse from top ten contender to endanger specimen in one swoop. I’ve explained his demise below, but I mentioned it again because I cannot recall anything like it the SMA’s first three years. In more positive news, the Glee presence expands to four guys, with the addition of Harry Shum jr., who plays Mike Chang on the show. He’s lovely.

With the paradoxical underperformers out of the way, what remains are the usual suspects. Mitch Firth, once a top twenty contender, has been clawing his way onto the lower half for a couple of years now, and this month he has one of his sporadic positive months. Ed Westwick has followed a similar pattern, with the important difference that he has been relegated every once in a while. This month, he takes a step away from the precipice. Corbin Bleu benefited from yet another rewatch of High School Musical 3 to avoid relegation, while the resilient Rhys Wakefield hangs on to the #50 spot. The more inteeresting question is whether such a thing as a usual suspect even exists anymore, with the sheer number of guys who were taken off the list this time around. Hopefully, there will be a shorter wait until the next SMA, so let’s see if some of the guys who fell of this time can mount a comeback. If I’ve learned anything since I started the SMA, it’s that I suck at predicting the future.

  1. Nicholas Hoult (previous ranking: 3)
  2. Zac Hanson (4)
  3. Taylor Lautner (10)
  4. Zac Efron (9)
  5. Hunter Parrish (1)
  6. Nick Jonas (11)
  7. Emile Hirsch (6)
  8. Chris Egan (2)
  9. Logan Lerman (8)
  10. Jesse Eisenberg (15)
  11. David Gallagher (7)
  12. Jesse McCartney (6)
  13. Raviv Ullman (18)
  14. Chris Colfer (23)
  15. Chord Overstreet (14)
  16. Lucas Till (39)
  17. Xavier Samuel (26)
  18. Luke Pasqualino (19)
  19. Andrew Garfield (RE)
  20. Sterling Knight (20)
  21. Eric Saade (new)
  22. Gregg Sulkin (new)
  23. Thomas Dekker (RE)
  24. Xavier Dolan (new)
  25. Mitch Hewer (12)
  26. Tyler Hoechlin (19)
  27. Dougie Poynter (22)
  28. Jeremy Sumpter (RE)
  29. Chris Lowell (16)
  30. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (27)
  31. Jonathan Taylor Thomas (32)
  32. Ryan Donowho (24)
  33. Gabriel Thomson (32)
  34. Kevin Zegers (25)
  35. Charlie Hunnam (21)
  36. Leonardo DiCaprio (29)
  37. Jamie Bell (36)
  38. Sean Faris (41)
  39. Taylor Hanson (28)
  40. Cory Monteith (37)
  41. Chace Crawford (RE)
  42. Harry Shum jr. (new)
  43. Ryan Sheckler (13)
  44. Mitch Firth (45)
  45. Ed Westwick (50)
  46. Adam Brody (31)
  47. Randy Harrison (38)
  48. Rafael Nadal (39)
  49. Corbin Bleu (48)
  50. Rhys Wakefield (47)
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2 Responses to June’s SMA Winner, Three Years In The Making

  1. jay says:

    Its funny I would never have though that Giant Nick , would have become the young actor that he is to today . I do remember him I think it was in a play he did for the BBC around the time for skins where he played an older brother to his brother who had downs syndrome , I thought oh he can really act . Loved him in a Single Man

    There was a interview with him recently in the Observer when the journalist was bemoaning that Giant Nick had little to say and was uncomfortable in talking about himself . I actually find this quite refreshing as you don’t really need to know everything .

    Logan and his cascading locks , oh my ! thank the maker that his lead role in diary of a wallflower looks much more interesting . I can of course recommend Teen Wolf , its ability for the actors to loose their shirts in record time could take some beating !

    Fabulous to see Gorgeous Gregg make his debut . Sad to see Matty P drop off the list , I watched the most awful film with him in last night ‘ Cougar Hunting ‘ it could take quite sometime to recover from watching . Even Matty P in white briefs could not save it .

    • queerlefty says:

      Jay,

      I saw the Observer interview as well. I agree that it is always encouraging to see young people who are down to earth and not obsessed with fame, but to me, the Hoult interview actually went a little too far in the opposite. Not in the sense that I think he was being insincere – although the journalist told of several instances where Nick were deliberating trying to mislead him – but in the sense his deep discomfort with being famous started to make me feel bad for him. I hope he’ll grow into enjoying it, although the humility should be able to secure that he’s selective about what projects to sign on to. Of, the X-Men franchise will inevitably make him a hotter commodity, marketing-wise.

      As for Logan, I too am glad that he has ‘Wallflower’ lined up. The Three Musketeers looks abysmal, and with talks of a Percy Jackson sequel intensifying, I’m starting to doubt his ability to build a career. That said, he’s so beautiful I’d see anything he’s in. I wish I “un-watch” Gamer, though. That one was truly awful.

      I’ll get around to Teen Wolf. The concept doesn’t appeal too me much, but the stills do.

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