Hollywood’s Hottest Leading Men: 12 Chiseled Faces and Darling Smiles We Love

Jon Hamm. Photo: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com

Dear people who say things like “Happy Monday,” Who are you? For those of us who routinely wake up on “the wrong side of the bed,” here’s a little pick-me-up: 12 of Hollywood’s hottest leading men to crush on.

1. Ryan Gosling “Hey girl…” It’s gonna be okay, it’ll be hump day before you know it.

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2. Miles Teller This 28-year-old is not just pleasing to the eyes, but he’s also garnered tons of critical acclaim as an actor. Check our interview with him HERE.

WARNER BROS. & INSTYLE Host 16th Annual Post GOLDEN GLOBES Party Honoring Hollywood's Brightest Stars
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3. Ryan Reynolds He might be married to Blake Lively (see the actresses best looks here) but that won’t stop us from dreamily re-watching The Proposal.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's COSTUME INSTITUTE Benefit Celebrating the Opening of Charles James: Beyond Fashion and the Anna Wintour Costume Center - Red Carpet Arrivals
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4. Paul Rudd From Clueless to This Is 40, this guy just gets better and better.

VANITY FAIR OSCAR PARTY 2014 - Red Carpet Arrivals
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5. Bradley Cooper Here’s what would make a Monday better: staring into those baby blues.

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6. Joseph Gordon-Levitt 500 days would hardly be enough! Check out our 2011 cover story on him HERE.

VANITY FAIR OSCAR PARTY 2014 - Red Carpet Arrivals
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7. Jon Hamm We’d be mad not to love this man.

2nd Annual Breakthrough Prize Awards
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8. Joe Manganiello Werewolf, human…Manganiello is hot in any form.

THE CINEMA SOCIETY with MUSCLE & FITNESS Host a Screening of OPEN ROAD FILMS' Sabotage
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9. Taye Diggs We Diggs Taye.

VANITY FAIR OSCAR PARTY 2015 - Red Carpet Arrivals
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10. Eddie Redmayne The accent, the eyes, the Oscar! What isn’t perfect about Eddie?

21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Press Room
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11. Chris Hemsworth Another accent to swoon over, this gorgeous Australian is easy on the eyes and the ears.

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12. Jamie Dornan For the 50 Shades fan, you already know he’s got Christian Grey skills down.

BAFTA Los Angeles Tea Party
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Is ‘Magic Mike’ the Greatest Gay Movie Ever Made?

Magic Mike is the purest reflection of the “It Gets Better” sentiment—a movie so gleefully homoerotic, it can give a boost to bullied teens everywhere. And for those of us who grew up on the bland, heteronormative softcore offerings of Cinemax and Showtime, it’s a stirring reminder that our culture is headed in the right direction. Deadmau5 may see Paris Hilton’s DJing as a sign of the Mayan apocalypse, but if 2012 truly is the end of the world, at least we’re going out in a blaze of bare-assed glory.

On the surface, Magic Mike isn’t a gay movie—it’s about male strippers and the women who love them. There’s even a romance, in which Channing Tatum’s titular meathead struggles to articulate himself to Brooke (Cody Horn). But Magic Mike is for women the same way Playgirl is for women: it’s sort of an open secret that gay men look, too. And for all its offbeat rom-com content, it’s also a bromantic love story between Mike and his protégée Adam (Alex Pettyfer). Not to mention a stunning look at Matt Bomer’s abs, Matthew McConaughey’s nipples, and Joe Manganiello’s enormous prosthetic cock. (We only catch glimpses of it, but it casts a long shadow.)

There is something—I’ll just say it—magical about a film like Magic Mike, which feels like gay porn without actually containing any explicit gay content. It is a charmed production, in which I believed Matt Bomer as a heterosexual and didn’t hate Olivia Munn. I also recognize that Magic Mike is not for everyone, in the same way that I recognize Tree of Life was an overblown piece of shit, but surely even the dissenters will appreciate some of Magic Mike’s more impressive feats. How often does a movie about male strippers manage subtlety? It all feels like a trick: abracadabra, and your reservations are gone.

Even if it doesn’t dazzle you, Magic Mike is an impressive feat—a mainstream movie with some big names behind it that doesn’t shy away from glorifying the male form. The amount of manskin exposed is something rarely seen outside of gay indies or foreign flicks about ambiguous French dudes and their foreskin. Magic Mike may be exploitation, but it’s harmless exploitation—and it relishes in exposing men, who are long overdue for this kind of overt objectification. You don’t have to be an expert on the “male gaze” to appreciate the differences between how men and women are sexualized on screen.

Nudity is a big part of it, naturally: contrast the number of women who have taken it all off on screen versus the number of men who have shown us more than a well-defined torso. Even the ass, which is basically all Magic Mike gives us, is still taboo: it’s not that we don’t see it, but it’s almost always for comedic purposes. (That holds true for full-frontal—think Jason Segel’s penis in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.) Magic Mike doesn’t just showcase ass—it showcases ass in the context of ass that is meant to be gawked at. It’s not a fleeting, post-coital glimpse; the movie is inviting you to take it all in. After all, that’s what you’re paying for.

Don’t get me wrong—there is substance to Magic Mike. I will spend the remainder of 2012 defending this movie’s non-guilty pleasure virtues to anyone foolish enough to give me a venue. But it’s those asses and pecs and arms that will bring audiences in, and Magic Mike wastes no time in getting us to the first strip scene. Nor is it restricted to a single money shot: the film spends its two-hour runtime swinging between its love story, its coming-of-age story, and the stripper known as Tarzan (Kevin Nash) swinging on a vine across the strip club stage. Magic Mike merits rewatching because of a mostly self-aware script by Reid Carolin and Steven Soderbergh’s strong directing skills. But it’s just as worth the repeat viewings for every rhythmic thrust.

Straight women deserve this showcase as much as gay men do, but I think Magic Mike will ultimately prove more relevant to the latter. The movie is coded for its gay audience: it’s not as overtly gay as Brokeback Mountain (still one of the few examples of mainstream sexualized gay entertainment, sadly) or even Albert Nobbs. And in calling Magic Mike a movie “for women,” while neither embracing nor shying away from any homoerotic subtext, the producers have all but guaranteed a cult gay following. It’s a gateway drug for those men who aren’t ready to fully commit to the “LGBT interest” genre.

Look, it’s not like a bunch of closeted guys are going to take their girlfriends to see the male stripper movie – regardless of how it’s marketed, any film with this much dude ass in it is bound to inspire some gay panic. But it’s the kind of movie sexually confused 15-year-olds torrent in secret, or something two bros might leave on HBO (you know, ironically) before they both give into it, and each other. I’m not saying that was the filmmaker’s intention—or that these theoretical scenarios aren’t odd for me to be imagining—but I don’t how else to articulate the subversive thrills of a wide-release Soderbergh film that repeatedly humps you in the face.

And for those of us who have already accepted and professed the love that dare not speak its name, Magic Mike still feels like Christmas. The movie knows there’s a thin line between the homosocial and the homoerotic, and it straddles that divide without ever really committing to one side. You get a movie where men embrace, talk intimately, come close to kissing, and even share each other’s wives—but where none of that is either overly emphasized or shocking. Magic Mike gives us exactly what it has to: we don’t need lingering glances to know two characters love each other (in whatever capacity), and we don’t need a movie to be targeted directly to the gay community to know that we’re a vital portion of its audience.

I could be wrong about Magic Mike. Perhaps I’ve been blinded by the strip-club lights, or at least the sight of McConaughey covered in bronze body paint. But I admire this movie, just as I admire the performers giving it their all. They might stand behind their “you can look but you can’t touch” rule, but they’ve committed to owning their sex appeal and exposing themselves. While Magic Mike does caution about the dangers of a party lifestyle, the stripping itself is portrayed as sweaty, lucrative fun. There is no shame here, which hopefully will convince audiences to be as uninhibited in their response. Sometimes a guilty pleasure is just a pleasure.

Steven Soderbergh’s Stripper Epic Will Be a Hit Among Women

I have a Polaroid picture that’s nearly 20 years old of two friends and me posing with Chippendales dancers. I’m nuzzled up to the well-tanned pecs of a male stripper with a ponytail and a salacious grin, while a dancer who looks like the adopted Aryan son of Siegfried and Roy is hugging one of my friends from behind. My third friend is a genteel distance away from her companion, a fellow with some sort of ’90s hair metal situation and a gold chain dangling in his clipped chest hair. I’m pretty sure that if I were smiling like a normal person in the photo, you’d see my braces. We’d had a grand time with our moms, aunts, and a bevy of Vegas broads watching the Male Revue strip down to their skivvies, and this was our keepsake.

I don’t have photos from the second time I went to a male strip club, and that’s really for the best. It was a place in midtown Manhattan that was rented out in the early evenings for bachelorette parties before the B&T crowd was ready to booze it up. We’d assured our friend’s fiancé it would be no big deal, but we were all so grossed out by the greasy dudes hauling women out of the audiences to hump them that we spent most of our time shooing them away from the bride-to-be until we left for greener pastures.

The third male strip club I’ve been to was Magic Mike. And it was the nicest one of them all.

In some circles, Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike has drummed up the sort of anticipation that’s unlike the usual buzz surrounding the Oscar-winner’s work. The brouhaha over Magic Mike is a heady mixture of bachelorette party giggles and cinephilic curiosity, similar to the tittering that accompanied Michael Fassbender’s revealing performance in Shame. But there’s no shame in the Magic Mike game; we’re meant to look, and look hard at the parade of perfectly pumped and primped male dancers starring in Soderbergh’s newest movie. Judging from the reception of trailers, photos, and media appearances that Warner Bros. has been releasing like Salome’s veils (as well as the post-screening ladies room chatter I overheard), the female audience is ready for our turn at some public male gazing, much as I was at the age of, uh, whatever I was when that Polaroid was first shaken.

When the trailer popped up online in mid-April, some friends and I began an impressively long email chain about the merits of Magic Mike. Hyperbole and The Dark Knight Rises be damned, this would indubitably be the best film of the summer, if not the year. Emails flew through the ether, and our Twitter timelines grew bloated with links to stories, animated GIFs, and snickers. We picked out our favorites; Channing Tatum won some of us over with his turn in 21 Jump Street ("Fuck science!"), while others preferred True Blood‘s Joe Manganiello. Matthew McConaughey holds a certain appeal with his kinky cowboy outfits and "Awright, awright, awright" Texan drawl. We were a bit sour on Alex Pettyfer for his off-screen attitude, and Adam Rodriguez, Matt Bomer, and Kevin Nash got lost in the shuffle (sorry, guys).

The guilty emailing parties were not just friends but work colleagues, almost all of them journalists who write about film, usually from a feminist point of view, or are otherwise involved in media. We deal with these people, well, not every day, but often enough that we’re supposed to be immune, dammit. We are professionals. We don’t wear tiaras with tiny penises on them on the weekends. So our titters are mixed with a touch of professional embarrassment, the same sort of reaction most had over Fassbender taking a leisurely leak in Steve McQueen’s dark drama from last year.

Once I began polling my other friends about the movie via email, almost all of them admitted their curiosity was piqued. These women are not generally the type to drool over Channing Tatum and his sweet Step Up moves or ogle dudes at the gym. Judy McGuire, Seattle Weeklycolumnist and the author of The Official Book of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll Lists, describes her type as "tall, sunken-chested, sullen, and scrawny." Another writer friend who shall remain anonymous prefers her men to be "skinny and Jewish, mostly, so Magic Mike is more like Magic Beefcake to me." She added, "This kind of presentation of male sexuality isn’t my bag or my thing at all. I get more fluttery watching a cute beta choirboy-type sing indie rock songs about birds." I don’t have a physical type that I can tell; if you lined up all the fellows I’ve been infatuated with over the years, it would be a rogues’ gallery of weirdoes, and the only one who could pass for one of Mike’s pals is my high school boyfriend, a football playing vegetarian metal head. Lux Alptraum, the editor and publisher of Fleshbot (link NSFW), put it bluntly: "I think Channing Tatum is pretty unattractive, honestly." Conversely, porn star, model, and badass-of-all-trades Bella Vendetta (link also NSFW, obviously) made no bones about it. "I’m sure women are excited because it’s Channing Tatum, and he’s mostly naked, what’s not to like?" The convergence of Channing Tatum’s rising stardom and the release of Magic Mike can’t be underestimated here, either. Our interests in the movie itself also are a mixed bag; while some are actually psyched to see the rate at which Tatum can pistol his pelvis per second, McGuire responded, "Because it looks hilarious! I went to see Glitter in the theater for the exact same reason."

Most of us are not actually looking at any of the dancers as "that dreamboat guy that never came along," as McConaughey puts it in the trailer. "Their appeal is not about a desired relationship, it’s about sex and fantasy,” wrote Kristy Puchko, a twenty-something movie blogger. “It’s Erica Jong’s zipless fuck.” And that zipless fuck isn’t easy to come by, either. "There aren’t that many pieces of pop culture that explicitly sexualize the male body in a way that isn’t codified as for gay men," Alptraum wrote. "I think women who are attracted to men appreciate the creation of a film that is overtly about male bodies sexualized or commodified for female consumption."

While plenty of love scenes have modest male butt shots, they’re rarely lingered upon as long as they are in Magic Mike. On the flip side, the naked male body is also a figure of fun, as in Jason Segel’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall or whenever Will Ferrell drops his pants. As my friend Kathleen, 37, wrote, "It’s easier for straight men to accept it if the character is either funny (‘Haha, he’s naked! Hilarious!’) or pathetic (‘Look at that naked dumbass!’) than if the character is otherwise a regular, likeable character." Although Magic Mike is definitely funny, the humor doesn’t have the same timbre; we’re not laughing at how pathetic Jason Segel’s character is, we’re laughing at the surreal dance numbers—"It’s Raining Men," anyone?—or Mike’s flirtatious banter. It will probably be hard to get heterosexual men into the theater for this one, unless they’re serious about their Soderbergh. As my friend and colleague Jordan Hoffman wrote, "I am ‘assigned’ this movie as a working critic, but even if I was in a different line of work I would see it because I greatly admire Steven Soderbergh and never miss anything he does. K Street forever!" The guys who skip Magic Mike because they fear it will only be an endless vision of glossy glutes will be missing out on much more than McConaughey playing the bongos.

Watching Magic Mike in the context of a media screening made me feel self-conscious; I was always trying to gauge the reactions of those around me. Was I laughing too much? Too loud? At the wrong time? Oh god, did I just chuckle and snort?! Come on, let’s be professionals here. They’re just guys gyrating in thongs, y’all. This is why publicists like us to watch horror movies with people who are psyched to get into a preview screening, even if that screening is at midnight and you’ve got to turn in a review by 10 AM; ostensibly, the excitement of the crowd catches like a cough. (This can also backfire terribly if the crowd hates the movie as much or more than the journalists attending.) But it’s so cheesy!" the adult in me moans, while the pre-sulk teenager in me squeals and claps her hands. It’s easy and maybe safer to put on a smirk and sit back with your arms crossed in case your editor is nearby, but where’s the fun in that?