Grading 26 Years Of People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”

I feel like my sexuality will be questioned, but I have opinions on these things. And dammit they must be heard.

1. 1985

Grade: C

I know that Mel has spent the last few years doing everything in his power to make you forget how great he once was. But try to remember the ’80s. He was the man. Have you seen Lethal Weapon lately? It’s fantastic, and Mel was the coolest man alive in it. Definitely a strong choice. That said, the last few years have happened. If I were grading this before the anti-semitism and crazy abusive stuff it would probably have gotten at least an A-, but I’m not.

2. 1986

Grade: C+

Mark Harmon? Really? Now don’t get me wrong. I love Mark Harmon. He was awesome on The West Wing and he’s always been cool (even in “Summer School”). Plus this was fresh off of St. Elsewhere where he was tragically trapped in the imagination of an autistic child a fan favorite. That said, he’s your number 2 choice after Mel? Really? That seems surprising to me. But I guess Top Gun wouldn’t come out for another few months, so Cruise would have to wait another year.

3. 1987

Grade: F

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? HARRY FUCKING HAMLIN? Before a post-“Top Gun” Tom Cruise? This is a travesty. I can’t believe this happened. I also can’t believe my opinion on the issue is this strong, but it is. This was bullshit. You gamed the system Hamlin. I don’t know how you did it, but you must have.

4. 1988

Grade: A

You can’t really argue with this one. JFK Jr. would probably have been the coolest guy on the planet if his dad hadn’t been JFK. But he was, so good luck competing with that, everyone else.

5. 1989

Grade: B-

Connery is definitely an awesome guy, and I’m sure people found him sexy. But that was young Connery wasn’t it? This is old Connery. Was he still “Sexiest Man Alive” material? He was 59 years old! I don’t know, it seems like a stretch.

6. 1990

Grade: A

The fact that it took Cruise five years to be the Sexiest Man Alive is shocking to me. I get that he was so young after “Risky Business” in ‘83, but after “Top Gun”? Maverick was the coolest guy on the planet. This took too long.

7. 1991

Grade: B+

We still miss you Swayze. We keep getting put into corners without you.

8. 1992

Grade: D-

This one gets an A for comedy though. Nick Nolte has been in a three man race for Craziest Man Alive for years (with Gary Busey and Val Kilmer if you were wondering). But even the cover photo looks like he is about to take the glasses off and yell at someone that he thinks this whole thing is stupid. that’s the thing with crazy people. Their smiles are just as scary as any other face they could make.

9. 1993

Grade: C

In 1993 People took a one-year hiatus from “Sexiest Man Alive” and instead gave out “Sexiest Couple Alive.” As a lover of tradition, I hate this call and want to give it an F. But Cindy Crawford in the ’90s was about as hot as anyone has ever been. I don’t get the Richard Gere thing, but Cindy could make any couple a really sexy couple. So I’m going with a C and moving on.

10. 1995 (No award Was Given Out In 1994)

Grade: B+

Has there ever been another celebrity that literally* everyone finds attractive, but so often looked bizarre and terrible because of weird hair/facial hair choices? Like this is a terrible cover, and it’s not even one of the top-5 worst looks Brad Pitt has rocked. I don’t get it. Hard to argue with the choice though.

*That’s a proper use of literally. Anyone who says they don’t find him attractive is lying.

11. 1996

Grade: A

Who doesn’t love Denzel? Answer, racists and the people who have been running his career for the last five years (“Unstoppable”? Seriously?). The only real question is how it took 11 years to get a black guy on the cover. This thing started in 1985. Ever hear of a guy named Michael Jackson? He was somewhat popular in 1985. And despite what he became, he was seen as very sexy at the time. 11 years is too long.

12. 1997

Grade: A

Clooney is this generation’s Paul Newman. It’s just a fact. A fact that makes this cover an obvious and great choice. And that’s three great choices in a row by People. Maybe they figured this whole thing out.

13. 1998

Grade: D+

Nevermind. Look 10 years earlier, sure. But 56 year old Harrison Ford? Sorry, but I hate when awards are given out as lifetime achievements rather than their actual purpose. It undercuts the legitimacy of the prize. And if there was ever a legitimate award with dignity and honor… It’s the Sexiest Man Alive title. I think that goes without saying.

14. 1999

Grade: D

Again, I don’t get the Richard Gere thing. Is it just that people liked that character in “Pretty Woman”? Is that it?

15. 2000

Grade: A

There’s the Brad Pitt that became the Robert Redford of our generation. Hopefully he beat the crap out of that long-haired hippie Brad Pitt. He sucks.

16. 2001

Grade: D+

Hey remember that year that Pierce Brosnan was a huge star? Yeah, it’s hazy for me too. I have nothing against Brosnan, and actually have really liked him in many non-Bond movies (he was one of my least favorite Bonds), but I don’t think another choice seemed dated faster than this one. And HARRY FUCKING HAMLIN won once. So that’s saying something.

17. 2002

Grade: B-

I’ve always been an Affleck apologist, but for me he never really worked as a blockbuster leading man. This also loses points for its proximity to his J Lo period.

18. 2003

Grade: C-

I don’t care what anyone says. Johnny Depp is weird. Not sexy.

19. 2004

Grade: C+

I have nothing against Jude Law. He’s a pretty good actor. He seems cool to be around, but is he really that sexy? I guess. He just seems kind of boring.

20. 2005

Grade: D

Here’s the problem. McConaughey is only sexy. He’s boring to watch. He’s bland. He’s not really a good actor. I do not support that kind of “sexy.” By that logic Mischa Barton could have won a female version of this award. And that would have been a disaster.

21. 2006

Grade: A

I’m going to be honest. George Clooney could win this award every year, and I’d support it. He is by far the coolest guy in Hollywood. Easily.

22. 2007

Grade: A

I’m shocked it took Matt Damon so long to get to the top. If you would have told me after “Good Will Hunting” that Affleck would have beat him by five years I would have been shocked. Then I would try to get a girl’s number and put it up against a window asking how you like those oranges (never been a fan of apples).

23. 2008

Grade: B

Hugh Jackman is fine, but he’s another one that I’ve never totally understood why women find as sexy as they do. I mean, I get that he’s buff and good looking. But he seems like a weird guy. Then again, I defended a post “Top Gun” Tom Cruise earlier, but I would argue that we didn’t know how weird he was back then.

Grade: D

He’s just weird. How has he won twice? Have people seen the last three Pirates movies? What’s sexy about a dude being party to those kind of atrocities?

25. 2010

Grade: A

Ryan Reynolds is the namesake for my “Ryan Reynolds Theory,” which states that an otherwise bad movie can become watchable or even borderline good if the star is charismatic and likable enough. Anyone who could make “Van Wilder” a passable movie has to be sexy enough to be on this list.

26. 2011

Grade: F

This was given to Cooper entirely based off that video where he speaks French. But what about Ryan Godling Gosling? His whole life is like his version of that video! I mean COME ON.

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