Tag Archives: james franco

The Nerdy Hot 10 List

Maxim released its annual Hot 100 List today, focusing on women with exceptional beauty and bodacious bods. (House‘s Olivia Wilde got the top spot.)

Looking at some of the names, I thought the chosen women are indeed gorgeous but physical perfection is only one way to judge hotness. Year in and year out, the same people seem to end up on these lists.

So I decided to release my own Nerdy Hot 10 List, with male celebs who are sexy not because of their ripped bodies (though some might have them), but because of something a little imperfect, goofy, or nerdy about them. So here’s my list, in no particular order, and the reasons why these guys made the cut.


1. Colin Firth. Firth is the epitome of the awkward man who always gets tongue-tied around a pretty girl. But that awkwardness is what makes him so endearing, as evidenced by the hilarious scene in Love, Actually when he publicly proclaims his love in halting, butchered Portuguese to the woman of his affection. And remember those dreadful reindeer sweaters he sported in the Bridget Jones movies? He’s hot for having the courage and good humor to wear them.


2. Hugh Laurie. He often appears slovenly and unshaven on House and behaves like an ass. But then you hear him play piano, sing a funny ditty on a talk show or give a humorous, humble acceptance speech for an award and all is forgiven.


3. Paul Rudd. He’s most famous for doing bawdy comedies as part of the Judd Apatow gang; his blue eyes and boyish charm allow him to get away with all the mischief. But he can also do Shakespeare (I saw him do Twelfth Night in a Lincoln Center production), write scripts, sing, produce and all these hidden talents add up to one sexy guy.


4. Robert Downey Jr. The first time I saw him was in The Pick-Up Artist, where he played a pretty geeky guy trying to hit on Molly Ringwald . What a difference twenty years make. Despite all his legal troubles and drug abuse, he’s somehow managed to salvage his quick wit, intelligence and ultra-sized talent. You may be well aware of his acting prowess but have you ever heard him sing? Forget about it. He’s got a voice that can melt inhibitions.


5. James McAvoy. He may not be the tallest, most muscular or dashing man but oh, is he romantic. Check out those intense blue eyes. When he looks at his leading actresses in movies like Starter for 10 and Atonement, he really looks at them, as if they’re the most exquisite creatures he’s ever seen. And we the audience can almost feel him gazing right through the screen into our own eyes.


6. Jon Hamm. I tried watching one episode of Mad Men and Hamm did nothing for me as Don Draper, though he was certainly groomed and dressed well. Then I saw him on 30 Rock as Tina Fey’s hapless boyfriend and developed a crush immediately. Hamm was ridiculously funny as the guy who was so beautiful, no one would tell him the truth about anything. He played tennis atrociously but thought he was awesome, rode a motorcycle like a drunk but thought he was cool and was clueless about the correct usage of the word “ironic.” I think Fey is a comedy genius and for Hamm to keep pace with her is sizzling hot.


7. James Franco. He’s not that interesting as Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man movies but when he’s goofy, like in Pineapple Express and funnyordie.com videos, he gets my sexy stamp. Plus, he gets extra points for being a nerdy academic, with an English degree from UCLA and working towards graduate degrees in creative writing and film at Columbia and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, respectively.

bret mckenzie

8. Bret McKenzie. As half of Flight of the Conchords, he doesn’t have much luck in his career or with the ladies on the show. But he, along with Jemaine Clement, makes me laugh hard with brilliant, kooky songs and their hilarious, clever lyrics. I don’t get starstruck much but if I ever meet him, I’d be completely tongue-tied and that’s a true sign of hotness in my book.


9. Daniel Craig. Yeah, he beefed up for Bond and looks great in a tux but before that, he played a scrappy drug dealer in Layer Cake, a murderer in Infamous and an unsympathetic Ted Hughes in Sylvia. His face isn’t conventionally pretty, with rough features that look like he’s been in a few brawls, but I’ll take him over the typical Calvin Klein model any day.


10. Brad Pitt. I swear he’s not on this list for the obvious reasons because, frankly, I find him rather bland when he plays heroes and pretty boys on screen. But he rocks my socks when he plays crazy like in Twelve Monkeys or a doofus like in Burn After Reading. A funny man who also happens to look like Pitt? Smokin’.

What do you think? Who else should be on this list? Wanna see who’s on my Nerdy Hot 10 List—Female Edition? Click here.

Review of Gus Van Sant’s MILK

penn-milkAfter seeing Milk (opens Nov. 26, one day before the 30th anniversary of his murder), I predict that one of the five slots on the Academy-Award Best Actor wheel has been claimed by Sean Penn as Harvey Milk. I don’t think this comes as a surprise to anyone who has followed Penn’s work. Some actors, when they try to stretch by putting on weight, ugly makeup, accent, physical handicap, mental illness, etc., just look like themselves playing dress-up. But Penn, like Daniel Day-Lewis, can completely metamorphose into someone else right before our eyes. His embodiment of Milk is so accomplished, when a video clip of the real Milk appears at the end of the movie, I thought, “Oh yeah, I’ve been watching Sean Penn, not the real man.”

The real Moscone (L) and Milk (R) - Rink Photo

The real George Moscone (L) and Milk (R) - Rink Photo

This effect is aided by the film’s documentary style and ’70s feel. It begins with black and white footage, interspersed with newspaper clippings, of police raiding gay bars, loading men by the dozens into police vans. Then we see Penn as Milk in 1970 New York, boldly propositioning Scott Smith (James Franco) in a subway station. The men became lovers then moved to San Francisco two years later. Milk opened a photography shop called Castro Camera on Castro Street and became active in local politics after being initially shunned by other merchants for public displays of affection with Smith. He was elected to the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors in 1977 and became the first openly gay elected official in the U.S.

from the Scott Smith Collection

from the Scott Smith Collection

In his short term before he was shot along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone in 1978, Milk successfully fought Proposition 6, which sought to remove all gay teachers from their jobs. The scenes of Milk campaigning against this measure echo the recent California fight against Prop 8, which bans gay marriage. These scenes made me wonder if the election results for Prop 8 would have been different if Milk were still alive.

Over the years, actors such as Robin Williams and Jim Carrey have been attached to a Milk project. I’m glad it eventually came to Penn because I can’t imagine the others doing it. Penn displays qualities in Milk we’ve rarely seen in his past work. First off, he smiles a lot. When he’s excited about something or someone, his whole face sparkles like a child who’s been given a puppy. He’s vulnerable but determined, humble but proud, speaks softly but carries a bullhorn. Thankfully, Penn makes Milk full-blooded and doesn’t employ stereotypical gay mannerisms.

2008_milk_004The cast consists of many talented actors but the standouts for me are Franco, Josh Brolin and Emile Hirsch. Franco, as Milk’s long-time partner “Scotty,” has developed quite an interesting career for himself, mostly staying clear of bland pretty-boy trappings. His chemistry with Penn is palpable and his gravitas grounds Penn as Milk’s political dreams take flight in the film.

brolinBrolin plays Milk’s assassin Dan White as a man seemingly more in conflict with himself than with Milk. He has a smooth veneer that doesn’t quite cover the anger simmering just below the surface. Brolin deftly handles White’s slow unraveling and this is the most mature, interesting work I’ve seen him do (and he’s done some good work in recent years). Startlingly, in a medium shot, Brolin looks almost exactly like the real Dan White (check out the YouTube video below), down to the parted hair and tan blazer. The hair, makeup and wardrobe people were spot on.

Hirsch, unrecognizable as Cleve Jones in a ‘fro and oversize glasses, is just loose and having fun. It’s hard to imagine this is the same guy who played the tortured Christopher McCandless in last year’s Into the Wild.

I like Van San’s choice of documentary style for the film, as if he knew he had a good story (captured in a script by Dustin Lance Black) and great actors and just rolled camera and got out of the way. The events were incendiary enough; Van Sant didn’t need to take a heavy-handed approach. He didn’t have to feed us the outrage; he let us see for ourselves. His decision to incorporate real news footage of Anita Bryant as one s-anita-bryant-pie-homosexualof Milk’s antagonists is inspired because no one could have played that role and uttered those anti-gay proclamations quite like Bryant herself.

Rating: Good

The clip below is from NBC Nightly News, with David Brinkley reporting the news of Moscone and Milk’s assassinations. It includes footage (used in the movie) of then-Board of Supervisors President Dianne Feinstein confirming the shootings at a press conference.