Hotness in Hollywood

I had planned my string of meditations on the movies to stop with
three. But, having succumbed to the mischievous blandishments of my
beloved wife Cathy, here’s a fourth. Today I shall consider hotness in
Hollywood — some movies that at least partly sold me with
sex, and how they did it.

So, without further ado, my personal tribute to the most
incandescent lovelies in recent movies.

First, Kelly Ann Hu in The Scorpion King (2002). No
swashbuckling sword-and-sorcery movie would be complete without a
scantily-clad sorceress in it. Kelly Ann Hu fills her chainmail
bikini in a way guaranteed to make any red-blooded geek fall to his
knees and howl at the moon. This is your most traditional sort of
starlet role, as a sexy arm decoration for the male lead. You
feminist killjoys out there can grump all you want about all that
exposed flesh, but ohmyGoddess…she
was fine. And I didn’t hear any of you gals complaining
about The Rock running around in nothing but a loincloth, did I,

Next, Liv Tyler as Arwen in the Lord Of The Rings movies
(2001-2004). Another fantasy, another fetching wench. This one,
however, displays much less skin and gets to kick butt occasionally
— one of Jackson’s better plot changes was having her replace
Gildor Inglorion Glorfindel in the rescue of the hobbits from Weathertop. Most
erotic moments for me: the close-ups on Liv’s face and lips as
she was speaking Elvish. This is surely the most beautiful woman
on the planet.

No discussion of recent screen hotness can possibly be complete
without a nod towards Angelina Jolie in the Tomb Raider movies
(2001, 2003). Given Ms. Jolie’s luscious natural abundance of curves, I
thought it silly and unnecessary that they padded her for this role.
I admired her game efforts to perform something resembling acting in
the first movie; I feel she she might even have succeeded but for the
horrible dog of a script. In the second movie she gave up, but no
blame attaches. My favorite moments were the homages to Diana Rigg
playing Emma Peel back in the sixties.

Now we come to Kate Beckinsale in Van Helsing (2004).
Much more active butt-kicking here, albeit conducted in an improbable
leather corset vaguely recalling Frank’n’furter in the old Rocky
Horror Picture Show
. There is no question about Kate’s gender,
however, and her sexiness is only enhanced by the array of exotic
weapons and martial-arts moves she wields. Made me want to spar with her,
then bed her, then spar with her again…

Halle Berry in Die Another Day (2002) gets plenty of
alpha-female things to do and ought to have been more convincing at
them than Kate Beckinsale or Angelina Jolie, if only because she isn’t
trapped in as absurd a setting. But Halle has a problem, which is that
she’s as dumb as a box of hammers and it shows. Even Kelly Ann Hu
playing an arm decoration looked more involved and alert.
Still…still…Berry was so exotically gorgeous and graceful
that I forgave her for sleepwalking through her role. On some women,
still photography just works better. Hollywood, take the hint!

In Troy (2004) Rose Byrne managed to out-hottie the
lead. The way she did it is instructive — where Diane Kruger
settled for playing Helen as the lacquered blonde bombshell to end all
lacquered blonde bombshells, Rose’s Briseis seems warm and human and
touchable. Sometimes, personality matters even when all you’re really
supposed to be is an object of desire.

Reaching back a little, Sigourney Weaver re-confirmed the proposition
that smart can be sexy in Galaxy Quest (1999). Her comic
turn as a bright woman pretending to be a dumb blonde and chafing at it
was wonderful — now there’s a female lead you could talk
with the next morning. I heard a rumor that Weaver was equipped with an
inflatable device that gradually pushed up her breasts to make them
appear larger even as her costume disintegrated during the course
of the movie. If so, this was funny but just as superflous as
padding Angelina Jolie — some women have the knack
of being delicious without a centerfold figure, and our Sigourney
is one of them.

And here’s one I’ve added for gender balance:

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). I have it on good authority that the sight of young master Radcliffe with his shirt off can make a woman weak in the
knees. I’d solicit some more detailed analysis of this phenomenon, but Cathy tends to drool and mumble incoherently when the subject comes up. I’d rather look at Cho Chang, myself.


  1. Kelly An-Hu was way too soul-less for me. Angelina Jolie was a little more than a pair of bouncing tits.Halle Berry turns me off completely – it’s her hair, guys – it looks like a Medusan fungus.

    Kate Beckinsale was cool, even for an anti-feminist like me. She has this natural sensuality that exudes her every action. And her mouth…..mmmmmm.

    Absolutely with you on Liv Tyler. If only we had cloning machines…

  2. Liv Tyler = win. Again, my vulnerability to blue-eyed brunettes kicks in.

    Neither Jolie nor Berry ever really did it for me (despite the former being dark-haired and blue-eyed). Jolie was at her sexiest in Hackers ten years ago; since then she has proven able to get away with phoning it in because hey, she’s Angelina Jolie.

    When it comes to Asian beauties you really can’t go wrong with Kelly Hu and Katie Leung (Cho Chang). Kelly was also hot in X-Men 2. I am beginning to grow weary of Lucy Liu, and have physical evidence of her shark-jumping: a copy of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. (I saw both Kill Bills anyway, mainly because of the amazing Uma Thurman.)

    For animu hotness, an English dub of Macross has been released that has nothing to do with Robotech, and it is notable because it features the voice of Mari Iijima reprising her role as Lynn Minmay — this time in English. Even though you can’t see her in animation (I don’t know, maybe she’s in the DVD extra bits?) it’s notable because she was a pretty young lass 20 years ago when she first voiced Minmay; and now she doesn’t look much different at all.

  3. I can’t agree with forgiving Halle Berry for sleepwalking through that Bond film. Yeah, she’s fine, but I KNOW she can do better than that. That’s why it really ruined it for me. I just couldn’t get past her repeating complete stupidity and being nothing more than an ornament.

  4. >> But Halle has a problem, which is that she’s
    >> as dumb as a box of hammers and it shows.

    Agreed. Still, so many people in Hollywood fit that description that if I let that keep me from a movie I’d never see any movies.

  5. While we’re reaching into the past, I just gotta trot out Cindy Morgan in TRON. Digitize me, baby.

    (She’s still got it, 24 years later…)

  6. Eric, you seen those Aerosmith videos (“Crazy” and “Cryin'”, I think) where Liv and some other hot chick are riding around in a car, stripping off their clothes?


  7. Isn’t it odd how Liv Tyler, one of the prettiest people out there, can look so similar to Steve Tyler, one of the ugliest? How does that even work? It’s quite a mystery.

  8. >Mr. I Speak Fluent Quenya.

    Nope, and never claimed to. I do, however, understand Quenya pretty well. This is not so difficult, as the entire canonical vocabulary is less than 800 words. Unless Christopher Tolkien has found another notebook…

  9. Harry Potter as a sex symbol? I think I need some brain bleach. Daniel Radcliffe looks too much like my little brother.

    Of course the great thing about the HP movies is that they don’t need sex to sell. They’ve actually got STORY and CHARACTER. Of course, a little eye candy never hurts.

  10. It is interesting to note how the archetype of female beauty has changed over time. During the Renaissance, the most attractive women were the heavier, more fleshy women, because fat was a sign of abundance and wealth in an age when most people were thin (and malnourished by today’s standards). This was also true during the 1930s when most of the Hollywood actresses tended to be heavier in contrast to the majority of the American population.

    Today in a world of abundance, thinness is a sign of wealth. Poorer people tend to eat cheaper high-caloric foods, while richer people tend to eat expensive low-fat health foods. So our female models are bone thin wraithswhile the majority of the American population is fat. It is interesting to note that in Brazil, were the majority of the population is thin and most people don’t have enough to eat, models tend to be heavier, especially in the buttocks.

    The archetype of the male body type has been less susceptable to change over time. A feminist would tell you that the male is less susceptible to objectification which is a reflection of male’s greater power in society. At any rate, the ideal male body type has changed less, but I still see some change. Today most males don’t have jobs which involve physical labor, so the strapping, muscle bound male is the ideal. The thin gentleman dandies of the films in 20s and 30s would not be considered attractive today.

    What is interesting is that males watch the movies with guys who look like bodybuilders, but most women that I know tell me that they generally don’t find bodybuilders to be very attractive. Similarly, lots of women think that the wraith thin covergirl models are most attractive, but most males generally think women are more attractive with a little more weight (especially in the hips and breasts). It seems that both sexes are fantasizing about being what they aren’t and don’t realize that their fantasy isn’t very attractive to the opposite sex.

    As for me, I never will understand why all those teenage girls found Leonardo DiCaprio so attractive. He never looked very male to me, but maybe that winsome androgoneous look appeals to teenage fantasies.

  11. You picked the wrong movie for Kate Beckinsale!! Underworld was both sexier, more watchable and geekier. In Van Helsing she was barely more than arm candy. In Underworld she’s the main character spreading mayhem all around.

  12. I thought Ally Sheedy was pretty damn hot in Wargames. I just like the Eighties frizzy brunette look, although I prefer long straight hair.

    >> I’d rather look at Cho Chang, myself.

    Meh, I think Emma Watson, the actress who plays Hermione, is hotter (again the frizzy brunette look).

  13. Sigorny Weaver, YES! Funny how a brain can be so sexy.

    And speaking of which, why didn’t Uma Thurman make the list? Beauty, brains, and intestinal
    fortitude (in Kill Bill I and II), or just beauty in Pulp Fiction and Get Shorty II.

  14. >And speaking of which, why didn’t Uma Thurman make the list?

    Because I don’t happen to have seen any of her movies, for starters.

  15. Hmm… Uma’s ok, if ya like the wasted junkie look. Sorry, but that’s how she looks to me.

  16. Terry Brennan:

    Uma Thurman can’t play a bimbo. When she does (e.g., The Truth about Cats and Dogs) she comes off too much like The Bride with her innocent tourist front. That in itself is kind of hot (though it means I’d rather not see her in certain roles).

    ‘Twas her appearance in Gattaca which impressed me most deeply…

  17. Sigourney Weaver had two of the best lines in GalaxyQuest:

    “I remember that sound…that’s a bad sound!

    “Look, I have ONE job on this lousy ship. It’s stupid, but I’m gonna do it, OK?”

  18. Huh. Liv Tyler as Arwen was one of the casting choices that I really disliked about the LoTR movies. She seemed to sleepwalk through the role.

    While she’s got a very pretty face when shot from above or at eye level, when she’s in the close in dialog shots, you can REALLY see her overbite.

    Now, Miranda Otto (the actress who played Eowyn)? Raaaahr.

    I also have a fondness for Katie Holmes, mostly for her role on Dawson’s Creek…where she plays the stunningly cute shy nerd chick to perfection. (She was working towards an undergraduate degree in mathematics before becoming an actress. Apparently, somewhere in there, they gave her a lobotomy too.)

    (When people were whining about how messed up our election system is/how unfair life is, my traditional retort was “Well, as long as we’re wishing for the impossible, can I get a ticket to the the alternate universe where Katie Holmes is cute triplet math geeks vying for my attention because I wrote Attack Vector: Tactical?”)

  19. re: hotness in hollywood

    the hottest performances on screen ever in hollywood in no particular order:

    (1) Rita Hayworth in GILDA (1940s) and the LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1948);
    (2) Ingrid Bergman in CASABLANCA (1942);
    (3) Barbara Stanwyck in DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944):
    (4) “Princess” Kelly in To Catch a Thief and/or Rear Window (1950s);
    (5) Marilyn Monroe in SOME LIKE IT HOT (1957);
    (6) Eva Marie-Saint in NORTH BY NORTWEST (late 50s);
    (7) Daniela Bianchi in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (early 60s);
    (8) Katherine Ross in THE GRADUATE (1967);
    (9) Jane Fonda in KLUTE (1974);
    (10) Connie Nielsen in DEVILS’ ADVOCATE and in GLADIATOR (late 90s and 2002).
    (11) Diane Lane in Lady Beware (1987), A WALK ON THE MOON (1999) (she and Viggo Mortenson are smoking hot) and UNFAITHFUL (2002).
    (12) Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction (1994) and Kill Bill Vol 2 (2004).
    (13) Natasha Richardson in Asylum (2005). The plot is unbelievable and so is the romance, the sex and the intrigue.
    (14) Scarlett Johannsen in Match Point (2005). There’s a reason she’s the sexiest women alive according to a major men’s magazine, and this movie provides at least some evidence why. Also hot in Lost in Translation (2003).

    TV Shows:

    (15) Ally Walker in the TV Series “The Profiler” (late 90s). Not a movie, but let’s face it, TV DVDs are outselling movies these days. Ally Walker has a smouldering sexuality that infuses every closeup. A former model turned actress, Walker played a serial killer profiler on this show, which has been copied about ten times over. An influential series, along with X-Files.
    (16) Kristen Dalton in “The Dead Zone” Seasons One-four playing reporter Dana Bright (2002-06).
    (17) Grace Lee Whitney as Yeoman Rand in the original Star Trek series, late sixties. She always used to meet Captain Kirk in his cabin. Lord knows what they were doing there.
    (18) Marina Sirtis in Star Trek the Next Generation. Empathic and Smoking Hot. Space never looked this good.
    (19) Barbara Hale as Della Street in Perry Mason, from the original in the 1950s, to the remakes in the 1980s and 1990s. All secretaries should look and act this great.
    (20) Mary Tyler Moore in the original “Dick Van Dyke Show”. Little Richie would have had to stay in his room once in a while if this had been my tv wife. Young , smoking hot, and didn’t mind her husband tripping over the furniture or obnoxious jerry from next door.

    –art k

  20. >Liv Tyler as Arwen was one of the casting choices that I really disliked about the LoTR movies.
    Absolutely. If there was one film that didn’t need an explicit love interest, it was LOTR. There is so much richness in those books without going all “the audience will get bored if we don’t throw in a bit of snogging” on them. And the scene with the banner at the end was actually cringeworthy. It made me feel like that bit in Bridget Jones with the microphone that isn’t turned on. Yeah you know what I’m talking about.
    >Now, Miranda Otto (the actress who played Eowyn)? Raaaahr.
    Nothing to add to that.

    Kate Beckinsale is actually at her worst for me in Van Helsing. A sexy worst, but still. Underworld is so much better.

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