Today marks the Fourth Annual Pajiba Ten — The Ten Most Bangalicious Celebrities on the Planet, as determined and ranked by our readers. Before we get on to the Pajiba Ten, it’s worth repeating what I love about this annual list. The Pajiba 10: Like nothing else we do, in one post, you can gauge the sensibility of this site and know if you’re in the right place or not. We’re not exactly fanboys, but we’re not exactly hipster douchebags, either. But we might be somewhere in the middle; between Wes Anderson and Guillermo Del Toro, between Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson, between Joss Whedon and David Milch. And we may hate 85 percent of the Hollywood product, and we may be occasionally pretentious, but our love of great films and quality television sure as hell doesn’t obscure our libidos. We just like to fantasize about a higher class of celebrity, that’s all. You won’t find Shia LaBeouf here, or Megan Fox, or Scarlett Johansson, and you sure as hell won’t find anyone from Twilight. But what you will find are celebrities who mix sex appeal with smart movies and TV, with occasionally risky career choices, and with intelligent senses of humor. They may not make the movies with the highest box-office gross, but they are damn engaging.
Also, really fucking hot. Here’s your 2010 Ten:
10. Zooey Deschanel : Sometimes I think that Zooey Deschanel is just too much, and that if she didn’t exist Wes Anderson would have to invent her. She was named after a Salinger character by her arty-but-not-too-famous parents, is married to the dude from Death Cab for Cutie, and sings cool jazz standards with a smoky elegance that leaves pretenders like Scarlett Johansson frozen at the starting line. Deschanel is every slightly left-of-center, alt-rock nerd’s fantasy girl — the complete, Indie package you’d push Natalie Portman out of the way for.
With immense, slightly googly-eyes, Deschanel is beautiful in a way that would hit you over the head in the real world, but in the context of celebrity seems almost subtle. This gives her an accessible quality, like a diamond in the rough you might actually know and flirt with at the coffee shop instead of some numinous entity that exists only on the pages of magazines.
Although she possesses the strong, angular features of a model, there’s an inclusive rather than exclusive aspect to her appearance. She conveys an appealing sense of wonder and modesty, and you get the sense that she’s an old soul, somebody that is more generous to the world around her than it is to her.
Her deadpan delivery, that often feels like it comes from a great distance, seems utterly honest rather than sarcastic, as if she’s telling a truth that the rest of us lack the courage, or sensitivity, to articulate. She’s like a really, really good looking version of Miranda July, and you just want to be so lucky as to grow old with her, luxuriating in her voice, as year after year she sings “Baby It’s Cold Outside” on Christmas Eve. — Michael Murray
9. James McAvoy : James McAvoy should not be sexy. He’s a bit short, inarguably scrawny, and lacking in the sort of chiseled good looks that distinguish most leading men. But there’s just a look about him, an intensity and confidence in his gaze and movements that says “you’re going to do whatever I want, and you’ll like it.” He can drop panties from across the room with a well-timed smirk. This quality can make certain roles of his, like Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia far more unsettling than they should be (Anyone wonder how many pubescent girls are going to have a thing for satyrs after that?) but means his role in Atonement was heartbreakingly romantic and his work in Wanted the stuff that guilty pleasures are made of. It doesn’t hurt that he’s actually a talented actor, so you don’t have to justify your appreciation of his roles with a mumbled “Well, I just like it, OK?” or hide the DVDs of his movies in the cases of better movies. (Not Wanted. That movie is best watched with the sound off because it’s very pretty but very stupid. And everyone will know you own it for exactly that reason.) I suppose I should say something here about him being the “thinking woman’s sex symbol” but I’ve always hated that phrase because it implies a more intellectual attraction than a physical one, and I think all the women out there who voted for Mr. McAvoy had some very physical plans for him when they wrote his name down. And that’s without even touching on that delightful accent of his. He could make the lamest “Ya got annae Scottish in ya? Would yea like some?” line a winner. — Intern Rusty
8. Joel McHale: If you’re like me, you’re a big comedy nerd who watched a ton of Comedy Central in the ’90s — you know, the good old days when they ran classic SNL episodes, “Kids in the Hall,” and obscure sketch comedy shows. One such show, performed by a local Seattle troupe, “Almost Live,” featured the up and coming — albeit pasty and balding up and coming — comedian Joel McHale. After years of obscurity, Joel finally found comedy heartthrob fame, thanks to the “Soup” franchise (not to mention a hearty Hollywood makeover), and now stars in his very own NBC sitcom alongside former comedy heartthrob Chevy Chase. And yeah, “Community” is great and all, but Joel will always be most beloved for his groundbreaking role in the movie Spiderman 2. — Stacey Nosek
7. David Tennant : David Tennant was introduced to many of us, myself included, as the Tenth Doctor. And sure, he quickly endeared himself to many a woman-kind with his pleasing aesthetics and flashy smile (complete with those weird “new teeth” of his). But Tennant’s portrayal of the good Doctor is more than just a pretty boy perpetually running both literally (where, by the way, can I get me a pair of his comfy-looking sneaks?) and figuratively (in a wibbly wobbly timey wimey sense). That literal running was but a part of Tennant’s innate physical comedy which, itself, was but a part of the playfulness, charm, and wit Tennant imbued the Doctor with. While that made Tennant’s performance enjoyable, what made it impressive was that over forty-odd episodes Tennant was able to continually show us glimpses of the Doctor’s time-and-space spanning intellect, heartbreaking sorrow and world-shattering rage in a way that seemed to take absolutely no effort whatsoever. If I were an actor, I’d hate him for the ease with which he seemed to wear the role.
Tennant’s placement on this list is also helped by the fact that he seems, off the telly and in real life, to be just as warm and witty as fans hope. So it was no surprise that the announcement of Tennant’s departure from “Doctor Who” left many feeling aggrieved, because fans wanted Tennant to go even less than Ten, himself, wanted to go. But the good news is that this leaves Tennant free to go new places, and if his titular performance in Hamlet with Sir Patrick Stewart, which was an absolutely wonderful blend of the Doctor and the Bard, is any indication of things to come, I’m ready to join him. Allons-y! — Seth Freilich
6. Rachel Weisz : Rachel Weisz. How amazing is she? Her big break was in The Mummy, of all things (after small roles in films like Stealing Beauty). And its sequel, The Mummy Returns. The thought of her kissing Brendan Fraser makes me want to tear the world apart. It’s not right, you know? Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Ms. Weisz, now only 40 years old, to take Hollywood by the throat and slap it around some. She’s an Academy Award winner (The Constant Gardener). She fought demons in Constantine. She’s wooed by Hugh Grant in About a Boy and loved across time by Hugh Jackman in The Fountain. None of them deserve her. She’s a stunning actress, and to boot, absolutely gorgeous, the kind of reserved beauty that’s rare in Hollywood. Her ability to portray such a wide array of characters is what makes her amazing and intriguing, and a radiant smile and strangely sexy eyebrows certainly help. She’s also utterly adorable in the underappreciated The Brothers Bloom. But most importantly, Rachel Weisz is a real woman, a grown up, mature, intelligent actress who picks her parts carefully (she gets a Mulligan for her voice work on Eragon), and plays her roles with passion and grace. Coupled with a breathtaking sexiness and unique beauty and, well…whew. I need a minute. — TK
5. Alison Brie : You see that smaller picture there to the left? That’s the Alison Brie that most of us knew up until around the beginning of 2010. She was Pete Campbell’s stuck-up, goody-goody of a wife in “Mad Men” and the cute, perky 19-year-old in “Community.” She was adorable and funny in “Community” and maybe a little heartless in “Mad Men.” But then around the second half of this season of “Community,” she shared a kiss with number eight up there during a community college debate, and then our collective tinglies began to tingle. And then she starting talking about being a nudist in college in one interview, and in a short story about an odd sexual experience, she spoke of ripping off her shirt and her shorts, and then she released that Funny or Die video about weird sexual fetishes (Bad Dog!) and then everyone began to notice that photo shoot she did with Complex magazine, and wait! She was in a web series called “Hot Sluts”? And suddenly, she was no longer the cute, perky Adderall-addicted girl from “Community.” She was that ravishing hot, tear-your-clothes-off and use her teeth kind of woman that you see above. And now, watching “Community,” it’s almost all anyone can see anymore. And that, folks, is a glorious thing. — Dustin Rowles
4. Alexander Skarsgård: He threw Lady Gaga off a balcony and in return she killed him, but I’ll be damned if Alexander Skarsgård didn’t die hot. A tall, cool drink of Swedish water with piercing blue eyes, dimpled chin and a structured jawline might have gotten him onscreen (along with his famous bloodline), but Skarsgård’s fine acting will keep him there. He first gained our attention stateside with a calm, cool portrayal of Marine Sergeant Brad ‘Iceman’ Colbert in HBO’s Generation Kill and he continues to impress with his nuanced portrayal of vampire Eric Northman on True Blood. Skarsgård moves easily from Eric’s dark, angry and vicious moments to showing Sookie his vulnerable side and comical interludes with Pam and Lafayette. And after this season’s first episode, “Bad Blood,” there is no questioning this Scandinavian’s bangability. Anna Paquin’s Sookie walked in on Skarsgård’s unabashed and fully nude Eric who was indoctrinating a new employee. After lingering over his glorious backside, even the camera could barely contain itself as Skarsgård and his chiseled abs (and the alluring top of his pelvis) turned to face it. Whatever numbers may appear before the names of the Pajiba Ten, I think you and I all know who’s on top. Would that it were me. — Cindy Davis
3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt: It’s a long, strange trip since Levitt played awkward long haired Tommy on “Third Rock From The Sun,” dropping out of sight and into the indie circuit where he racked up acclaim. The last couple of years have seen the slow creep into the main stream.
There’s a curious genuineness to all the roles he plays, poor or rich, broken or whole, the characters live with a vitality that shouldn’t be possible when committed to mere film. He seems like a guy that you’re already friends with, not in the way that he’d be fun to have a beer with, but in that unassuming veneer of normalcy. He’s the friend you have that fades into the crowd, whom no one would pluck out as the leading man of the group, until the chance moment when you see him in his element and it’s as if you’ve never seen him before.
Heroin thin, lithe lean limbs. Sad eyes underlined by a crooked grin. Porcelain skin lathed onto delicate bone. He plays emotion like a fiddle on screen, picking the parts that smolder underneath. He’s the quiet boy in the back of class, wearing funny clothes that don’t quite fit. Clever enough to always know the answer, but he’s too lost scratching poetry into the desk to raise his hand. Absent minded but intense, quick with both wit and a smile. He wears that hipster chic without pretension, but can pull off a three piece suit like Gene Kelly and throw in the song and dance number just for kicks. — Steven Lloyd Wilson
2. Christina Hendricks : I’m a white middle-class nerd, which means Christina Hendricks populated my dreams long before she graced the cover of men’s magazines. She’s become a household name for her work on “Mad Men,” where she wears period dresses like they’re painted on and wields her epic — seriously, epic, head to toe — curves like the man-melting weapons they are. But it was the short-lived and geek-loved “Firefly” that introduced me to her. She played Saffron, a con artist who tries to steal the spaceship from Captain Malcolm Reynolds and who shows up on a later episode in a plot involving a heist. She was funny, beautiful, and so unbelievably sexy that I briefly lost the ability to pronounce consonants. The odds that she’d show up in two episodes of a series that only made it to 13 are insane, but I’m thankful to whatever winds of fate put her there that she made it. To most TV viewers, she’s Joan, but to me, she’ll always be Saffron. … I’ll be in my bunk. — Daniel Carlson
1. Timothy Olyphant : Now, down where I’m from — Oklahoma, to be precise — one commonly observes a lot of fellows walking around in cowboy hats. Most of these guys look rather ridiculous, unlike the fetching top pick on this list. Quite simply, nobody looks as good while doffing a cowboy hat as Timothy Olyphant does, and no mere mortal or demi-god could hope to match that sexually-charged killer swagger either. However, one thing that has yet to be proven (although I do have my suspicions) is whether Olyphantastic (my eternal gratitude to whomever truly coined that term) could successfully pull off sporting a Stetson and nothing else at all (alright, he can bring the spurs too). Still, even though I’ve got an obvious fondness for his lawman look (and, given his roles in Deadwood, Justified, and The Crazies, he seems rather happy to continually oblige the sex-in-uniform concept), he’s always truly a pleasure to witness onscreen and just convinces in every damn role. Undoubtedly, part of his appeal is a set of peepers that, both in intensity and ability to speak wordless volumes, rivals that of Michael Biehn, and an ass that, well, just look at that ass. It could make angels weep because not even Heaven contains such sheer perfection in symmetrical form. As if that weren’t enough to cause spontaneous twitching of the ovaries, just witness the mesmerizing ability of this man to use his entire body to kiss a woman into certifiable insanity. In other words, ride ‘em hard, cowboy. — Agent Bedhead