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Bradley Cooper, Sexiest Man Alive

Posted by Wesley Morris  November 17, 2011 07:17 AM

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Sexiest Man Alive.jpgIt could have been worse, I suppose. They could have chosen a werewolf or a vampire or Gerard Butler. But People magazine has named Bradley Cooper its sexiest man alive, so they chose someone who, in the movies, seems likely to buy you Manhattans until you submit, and then he won't call the next day. But according to the cover story, I have no idea what I'm talking about. Cooper speaks French and went to Georgetown. He's smart and loves his mother. It's we who want to seduce him. Actually, I think what I'm wondering is more like: Isn't this a little premature? The movies haven't figured out what to do with him, and, as much we know what we'd like to do with, this honor -- silly and empty and irrelevant as it seems -- might, for now, be better spent on a star with a body of work as thick and lustrous as Cooper's hair. No one wants to say it, but he's the man-cave Katherine Heigl. Why Hollywood is keeping these two away from each other might be a matter of scientific necessity.

"Limitless," which came out in the spring, advertised what Cooper can do, that he can surprise us and himself. He's fun in that movie. Cooper doesn't need a lot to work with, but he needs something, and until that movie he hadn't much of anything. For fans of sexiness, what's annoying about Bradley Cooper's being named sexiest -- or last year's honoree, Ryan Reynolds -- is that it mocks the way someone like Ryan Gosling actually uses sexuality to do his job. Cooper uses a version of smarm. Smart isn't sexy. In the last year Gosling has been sexy in four different movies -- "Blue Valentine," "Crazy, Sexy, Love.," "Drive," and "The Ides of March" -- and has been so in four different ways. Cooper hasn't been sexy at all. So People's endorsement of him over Gosling or, say, Idris Elba (the magazine includes them among the sexier options) is a kind of a blow to sexiness. Cooper and Reynolds suggest what People might really is "hot."

There's also this: Why does the Sexiest Man Alive cover always fail to make the men look sexy? They always look like puppies. Is that what we want? This one, of Cooper, is particularly distressing. It's fair to see it and wonder why he's dressed like Justin Bieber.


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