Nov 22, 2011 12:00AM

Is Bradley Cooper the Sexiest Man Alive?

According to People, he is sexier than Ryan Gosling.

Every year, People magazine slaps a photo of a Hollywood star on their cover accompanied by the phrase 'Sexiest Man Alive'. For 2011, this honour was bestowed upon Bradley Cooper, star of The Hangover and Limitless, much to the dismay of Ryan Gosling's adoring fans. People's people justified the decision by declaring Bradley Cooper to be "the whole package. He's gorgeous, talented, brainy, loves his mom, can cook up a storm and speaks fluent French!" The Ryan Gosling contingent hit back with: "Hello, look at [Gosling's] abs!" and staged a protest outside of People's offices, fully decked out with outraged signs and Ryan Gosling masks (they called it the 'Occupy Sexy' movement).

You could be forgiven for not seeing the difference between the two. They're both in their 30s, like a tailored suit to wear with their five o'clock shadows and both have whole articles written about their abs.

The award is judged on the same merits and criteria each year, which unsurprisingly, is why the winners seem to be cut from the same cloth. George Clooney, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp and Jude Law have all worn the sexy crown; Denzel Washington has been the only non-Caucasian winner, Hugh Jackman the only Australian, and, John F. Kennedy Jr the only non-actor. Apart from these minor variations, it seems sexy is not 'sexually attractive or exciting' without some chiseled cheekbones, a piercing gaze and the body of a Greek god (having an exotic accent is optional). It's time to bring sexy back (had to be done) with some new contenders. Here's our Oyster shortlist:

Jon Hamm

As Don Draper, Hamm has ladies falling at his feet. And why wouldn't he? That scowl, those perfectly pressed suits, the man is undeniably irresistible. Sure he might lose points for not being loyal to his wife, or an attentive father, but then again, this is not 'Best Family Man Alive' is it?

Chris O'Dowd

A new contender, O'Dowd fell onto the radar by starring in comedic hit Bridesmaids, playing the sweet and funny love interest to Kristen Wiig's character so well that he has actually been getting marriage proposals from strangers. Never underestimate the allure of a funny guy. Doesn't hurt if he has an Irish accent and looks good in a uniform either.

Jason Statham

Killer accent, killer body, and quite often plays a killer in his films, Statham is more than a serious contender. What else has he got? Oh, just the kind of girlfriend that gets paid to walk around in her underwear - Statham has been dating Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley for over a year now. Game, set, match.

Hugh Laurie

Maybe not in his Blackadder days, but Laurie's sex appeal has certainly skyrocketed with his portrayal of a grumpy, mean-spirited, limping doctor in House. Written down like that, some things just shouldn't work, but they do.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

He's come a long way since playing the nerdy underdog on Ten Things I Hate About You, earning some serious props for his supporting role in Inception. But that doesn't mean he doesn't still have a touch of geek about him. Except that now he's got a swish haircut and can fill out a suit nicely. Dayummm, the geek got hot.

www.people.com