Wow, this is my third annual Sexiest Men in Show Biz blog, in which I show People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive issue how it's done. And let me tell you, thank god for Bollywood, where they're equal-opportunity objectifier. I had a hard time scaring up five new men last year, and now I'm back to a full complement of ten. Frankly, I could probably have done an all-Indian list, but I like to keep it a little more diverse than that. I've even got a record number of American actors this year!
People picked Hugh Jackman this year, so for once, I can actually respect their taste. Still, he hasn't bumped anyone off my list.
In the top slot:
1. Irfan Khan.
Oh, come on, if anybody in the world didn't see that coming, then you haven't been paying any attention at all, and I need to start running some pop quizzes or something. Oh, the Irfan! He can be a psychotic villain, he can be a nerdy businessman, he can throw extra letters into his name, and he's almost ... almost ... gotten me to see an earnest Angelina Jolie movie about contemporary political issues. Maybe once I've exhausted all his Hindi films. I've been saving The Warrior (one of his starring roles) for a rainy day, so for now I'll say that the best starting point is the Irfan/Tabu knockout double feature of Maqbool (steamy sexy) and The Namesake (realistic romantic). Maybe with a dollop of The Killer on the side. It's not the best movie, but Irfan looks great in a suave suit.
2. and 3. The men of Omkara: Saif Ali Khan and Ajay Devgan.
Director Vishal Bharadwaj has an interesting niche: adapting Shakespeare plays as gritty but literary Bollywood crime dramas. Starring some very handsome men. After Maqbool, there was Omkara. Okay, Saif Ali Khan is not handsome looking in Omkara itself. As the Iago character, he's filthy, obnoxious, and he has terrible teeth. Nonetheless, he is mesmerizing in his villainy, and you don't forget him; those are sexy qualities, only without the accompanying physical attractiveness. It was quite a shock to watch Omkara and then Kal Ho Naa Ho, where Khan plays the swoonily handsome, slightly metrosexual Rohit. Wowza!
As the title character, Ajay Devgan gets to brood and glower and smolder, which doesn't sound terribly promising, but I assure you, he does so while sporting a terrific moustache. I like that Devgan has such a distinctive nose, which sets him apart from the prettier boys. In addition to Omkara, I recommend Bhoot as a showcase for his manly but sensitive charms.
4. Robert Downey, Jr.
There are always guys I've seen around forever and never thought much of, and suddenly I fine myself forced to reevaluate them. This year it's Downey's turn. I've been seeing his movies for over twenty years, and that whole time, I've never thought he was cute, or really understood why he was so critically acclaimed. I had to admit he was pretty good in the recent Zodiac, so I developed some new respect for him as an actor. Then along came Iron Man. Not only didn't debauchery Chet Baker-ize him (the documentary Let's Get Lost is largely a study of how to destroy one's good looks with drug abuse), but age and (relative) maturity are really suiting him.
5. , 6., and 7. The men of Dexter: Michael C. Hall, Erik King, James Remar.
Here we have a television show with a serial killer for a protagonist: one who attempts to satisfy his bloodlust within a moral code. Since it's on cable, one might expect that it would be carnage candy. It doesn't sound like a natural forum for eye candy, does it? Ah, the importance of casting! In the lead, Michael C. Hall is hilarious as the narrator (always an attractive quality), and cleancut, boyish charm has never been so creepy and disturbing. If I didn't know I had compatriots in finding Dexter sexy, I'd worry a little about my psychological well being.
It's especially fun watching him square off against his nemesis, the hardcore, deadpan, smokin' hot Sgt. Doakes (Erik King). When they glare and plot against each other, and occasionally get to duke it out, it reminds me of the revelation I had during the Obi-Wan/Jango Fett throw-downs in Attack of the Clones: Ahh, this is why guys always like to see two chicks brawling. It's relatively rare that two male adversaries are both hot, but when they are, you get all the fun you'd get out of any fight scenes or tense thriller scheming, but, you know, with multiple hot guys!
As for James Remar: I know he had a lot of fans on that show, but he didn't thrill me on Sex and the City. The arrogant tycoon is 100% not my type, and SATC already had one of those. But when he showed up, a little craggier, as Dexter's flashback foster father, I was very happy to see him. It's good to know that the beautiful young Ajax (from The Warriors, one of the best films of all time) grew up into such a fine specimen of older manliness.
8. Gerard Butler.
Speaking of underwhelming, poor Butler seemed like a total loss to me in Dracula 2000. Most boring Dracula ever, I damned his performance, although it was probably the fault of a generally lackluster film, with Butler hampered by a bland accent. When I saw Reign of Fire, I was like, who's that yummy fellow with the great Scottish accent? I couldn't believe it was the same guy. More recently I've seen him in the action-movie leads of 300 and Beowulf and Grendel, and I can't remember off-hand what sort of accents he did for them. All I know is that he was plenty expressive in them, and I was, possibly, distracted by his fine (albeit computer-enhanced, at least in 300) physique.
9. Jeremy Northam.
Here's a guy whose career couldn't be more British. He's made a respectable number of Hollywood movies, mostly typecast as a guy who looks good in glasses (a la Mimic) or as part of a classy ensemble cast, without ever making much of a splash. Just plugging along, doing the sort of reliable, low-key sexy work that keeps the world turning. Recently, I was watching the 1987 British TV show Wish Me Luck, and thinking, "Who's that cute lanky youngster?" And lo, it was Jeremy. So I think it's time he got some props.
10. Idris Elba.
Even though he did three seasons of The Wire, I've only seen a handful of episodes (along with his supporting role in 28 Weeks Later) so for me, he's still an up-and-comer that I haven't seen enough of, and am keeping my eye out for. Annoyingly, he guested in that No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency TV movie with Sexiest Man in Show Biz alum David Oyelowo -- you know, the one that's never aired in the U.S. or been released yet on DVD.
So there you have it, the class of 2008! Feel free to weigh in with the men I've neglected, and, although my criteria are very strict (and very mysterious), they may make the cut next year...