Saturday, February 4, 2006

AskMen.Com's Top 99 Most Desirable Women

Recently, AskMen.Com released its annual list of the Top 99 Most Desirable Women. The list is not devoted simply to those women who are considered the most beautiful or, to put it in more modern terms, the "hottest." Physical appearance is only one of the criteria upon which AskMen.Com chooses the women who ultimately make the list. They also take into account intelligence and personality.

Of course, it is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So too, I would say, is desirability. What one man may find desirable in a woman another man might find downright annoying or, to put it more simply, undesirable. Quite naturally, then, I know very, very few people who would agree with every choice on AskMen.Com's list. And, not surprisingly, I disagree with the list on some points as well.

I guess if I begin anywhere, I should begin with those women who did not make this year's list. An obvious one that comes to my mind is Michelle Pfeiffer. To me she is still one of the most beautiful women in movies. And while her career isn't what it used to be, she is still among the most talented actresses around. Just look at her perfomrance in White Oleander. Quite frankly, she should have ranked in the Top Twenty at least, if not the Top Ten. I can only figure that because her career has slowed down, she was overlooked.

While I can perhaps understand why Michelle Pfeiffer did not make the list (she has been out of the public eye), I am totally mystified as to why Ashley Judd failed to make the cut. First, she is breathtakingly beautiful. In my humble opinion she is one of the few modern actresses who matches such classic beauties as Ava Gardner and Ingrid Bergman in sheer physical appearance. Second, there can be no doubt of her acting talent. Although she has never been nominated for an Oscar, she has been nominated and even received many other awards. Third, it seems to me that she has quite a bit of class. She turned down a bigger role in Kuffs because she would have had to do nude scenes and turned down the role of Lisa the Tool Girl on Home Improvement because she wanted to concentrate on movies. Fourth, I think there can be no doubt of her intelligence. She attended the University of Kentucky where she majored in French. How she could not be considered one of the most desirable women in the world mystifies me.

Of course, on the opposite end of the spectrum are those women I feel should not have made the list. Among these is Alyson Hannigan. Now don't get me wrong. I like Alyson Hannigan. I thought she was great as Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But I never have found her particularly pretty (keep in mind I have never had a thing for redheads). I must also admit that I have to wonder about her tastes in scripts, having done the American Pie movies (a low point in 20th century Pop Culture if there ever was one). I also don't think Jennifer Garner should have made the list. Don't get me wrong. I like Jennifer Garner. She seems like a pretty cool person. But I don't find her attractive at all. Indeed, one of the reasons I liked Alias was that it was one of the few times that you had a female spy on a TV show who looked totally ordinary. I mean, wouldn't someone who could blend in with the crowd make a better spy than someone who is drop dead gorgeous? Jennifer Garner isn't desirable to me; she is utterly average.

Another woman I don't feel should have made the list is Penelope Cruz, who somehow ranked as high as 32. As far as physical appearance goes, her face is moderately pretty, but, quite frankly, she is far too skinny. After she presented on last year's Academy Awards alongside Salma Hayek, my best friend was less generous regarding Cruz's appearance--he commented that she looked like a boy beside Salma! Of course, physical appearance is only one of the criteria AskMen.Com uses in choosing women for the list, but even then it seems to me that she falls short. While I must admit she gave a good peformance in Sahara, I can't recall any of her other performances that particularly impressed me. Indeed, I remember her from Captain Corelli's Mandolin (not a good movie by any means....) in which she played a Greek woman with her Madrid accent in tact....

While there are women I would not have placed on the list at all, there are a few who made the list that I would have ranked even higher. Top on my list is Kate Beckinsale. Quite frankly, I would have ranked her at #1. In my humble opinion, with the exception of one other woman (I won't embarass her by naming her here), she may quite possibly be the most beautiful woman in the world. She has the classic beauty of many of the actresses of the Golden Age of Hollywood--indeed, she played Ava Gardner and looked as good as Ava ever did! As to her talent, she can play in everything from romantic comedies like Serendipity to genre movies like Underworld to costume dramas like the A&E version of Jane Austen's Emma. And she is educated, too. She studied French and Russian literature at Oxford (for my fellow Americans reading, it is probably harder to get into Oxford than it is Harvard...). As to her personality, I have to admit that when she is on talk shows I am tranfixed to the TV screen not just because she is drop dead gorgeous, but because she has a great sense of humour and an innate gift for conversation. And she has that sexy English accent.

Another woman I feel should have ranked higher is Salma Hayek. Now she did rank at #25, which is nothing to sneeze at, but quite frankly I think she should have made the top ten. There can be no doubt of her physical beauty, not with that black hair, big, dark eyes, gorgeous smile, and voluptuous figure. But Salma also has a lot of personality going for her, too. She has a fantastic sense of humour and a gift for story telling (many of her stories are absolutely hilarious, such as the one about how she blossomed late...). And like Beckinsale, she has done a diverse number of roles. She has done everything from drama like Frida to genre movies like Dogma to action movies like Desperado. Honestly, I think it would be cool just to hang out with Salma Hayek.

I also think that Nicole Kidman should have ranked higher than #96. This is a woman who should have at least ranked in the top ten. I have thought Kidman was adorable ever since To Die For. There can be little doubt of her talent. She has won several awards over the years, among them an Oscar for her role in The Hours. And she has legs that just go on for miles. I am just shocked that she ranked so low.

If there are women I think should have ranked higher on the list, there are also women I think should have ranked lower on the list. Among these is Angelina Jolie. Okay, she is the daughter of Jon Voight (one of the coolest actors around) and the niece of Chip Taylor (born James Voight, he wrote "Wild Thing" and "Angel of the Morning" among other songs, not to mention he worked with The Monkees...). And there is no doubt that she is physically attractive. But I don't find her so ubersexy as many people these days do--I can name many, many female celebrities I find more beautiful. As to her personality, Jolie is a bit strange even for a geek like me. I seem to remember that she and then husband Billy Bob Thornton once wore vials of each other's blood around their necks. And don't get me started about the tatoos (IMHO women should not have tatoos).... I am not going to argue that she should not have made the list. There are obviously a lot of people (Brad Pitt among them) for whom Jolie trips their triggers. But I think #3 is far too high for her to have ranked. I could see her ranking more in the low fifties or even the sixties.

I also think Sienna Miller, who came in at #2, should have ranked quite a bit lower. Now she does seem to me to be fairly talented. And she has a sexy English accent (Surrey, I think...). And she seems to have a very good sense of humour and genrally seems like a fun person. But I just don't think she is that pretty. Indeed, I am not even sure she is a natural blonde (I can't help but think she might be prettier if she went with her natural hair colour). Given her personality and talent, I am not about to argue that she should not have made the list, but I don't think I would have ranked her as high as #2.

Now having criticised the women who ranked #3 and #2 respectively, I am going to say that I have only one problem with Jessica Alba ranking #1. Namely, Kate Beckinsale should have ranked #1.... The 24 year old Alba has long been a geek sex symbol (in part due to her roles in such genre materials as the TV show Dark Angel and the movie Sin City) and I don't think it is just because of her pretty face and amazing figure. In interviews she has always impressed me as someone who would be approachable. Indeed, it seems to me that she downplays her appearance and is a bit mystified as to how she became a sex symbol. At any rate, she certainly has a good sense of humour (which is the sexiest thing about a woman).

Here I must categorically state that I am very thankful that the way overexposed Paris Hilton did not make the list. As to her physical appearance, I don't for a minute think she is a real blonde and she is far too skinny. As to her personality, well, I find her totally vacuous. Indeed, as an indication of her intelligence, well, she did do The Simple Life....

I am sure many people reading this article will probably disagree with me on many points. But, as I said, desirability, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I have no doubt that, as much as I might not agree, there are those who think Angelina Jolie should have been #1....

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