by The Masked Critic
The elegant Ellen Pompeo, who would have been #23 if this list went that far, and if she'd been in anything lately.
So I was looking over the usual line-up of ‘hottest women of the year’ articles at the lad mags, and something struck me as worth noting. That is, when you look back over previous years, the so-called ‘hot’ women of a given twelve months generally have a three year lifespan. For example, when Melissa Joan Hart became a star through Sabrina the Teenage Witch in 2001, she got to around #46 on FHM’s 100 Most Sexiest Women, and a year later she held steady, but it wasn’t long before she was lurking around the 80’s, and this year she’s not even in the top 100. That made me wonder, has Melissa Joan Hart somehow become less beautiful over the past few years? Did she suddenly get chunky, or did she have a horrific nose job, or did she start dressing like Pink? Or are these lists really a way of gauging something other than beauty… like ‘number of magazine covers you’ve been on’ or ‘number of people who think about you when they’re jerking off’? So I decided to put forth my own ‘hottest women of the year’ list, one where the criteria for judging are absolutely clear: These are the women of film from 2004 that I think are ‘ridiculously fine’, combining aesthetic appeal with personality, intellect and professional talent. And if you disagree, you are wrong. Nyer.
#22 CATE BLANCHETT
I know, it's weird to start at #22, but who was I going to leave out on this list? I mean, seriously, is there a more talented woman in the world of film than this elegant Australian thespianette? She’s not the classic Hollywood supermodel-type, but who cares? She’s statuesque; she seems to only show up in good or great movies, and even when she appears in a stinker, it’s a stinker that she elevates to watchable status just by virtue of her presence. I remember watching her doing Tim Tam commercials back in Australia, thinking, “she’s got something…” Boy, does she ever, and her turn in Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes this year showed she can not only perform her role to perfection, she can perform two… at the same time… opposite herself.
#21 MISCHA BARTON
Never watched the OC, not about to start, but Mischa Barton’s rise to fame has been on the ‘long overdue’ rail for quite some time. As far back as 1997’s Lawn Dogs, where an 11-year-old Barton electrified audiences with a daring performance as a lonely pre-teen in a gated community, she has been on my list of ‘ones to watch’, and after small but effective roles in The Sixth Sense and Lost and Delirious, it seems her time has come at last. And now that she’s 19, I’m allowed to say it… “She’s pretty darn good-looking.”
#20 JAIME PRESSLY
Okay, I know I talked about talent and personality and intellect, and there’s no evidence that Jaime Pressly is the proud owner of any of those qualities, but when you even out the scores, the uber-high marks Pressly gets in the looks department warrants her a showing among the top 20. Yeah, yeah, I know, she’s trash, so sue me – she also happens to be smokin’. Pressly hasn’t appeared in anything more than Torque and a few 1-800-Collect commercials this year, which still ranks it among her most successful years ever, coming off seasons where she appeared in such crap as Ringmaster, Joe Dirt, and Tomcats. Oh, did I forget The Karate Dog? Yikes. If this girl has an agent, I suspect he also handles Ashley Judd, if you know what I mean…
#19 DENISE RICHARDS
Another star who just can’t pick a good role to save herself, Ms Sheen has been on a career slide since 1997’s Wild Things, having showed up in the underrated The Third Wheel, the dumbest part of Love Actually, Scary Movie 3 and Fat Albert in the last year or so. Coming soon, the imaginatively titled Whore, which really won’t do much for the actress’ Oscar hopes, but might just bump up her street cred. Having a baby hasn’t hurt her appeal at all, and in fact she seems to be almost more popular among the supermarket tabloid set as she is among 15 to 35-year-old menfolk. Me? I just think she’s real purty, and having met her a few times, I can tell you she’s a pretty decent person too.
#18 JULIE DELPY
I think I freaked Ms Delpy out at SXSW this past year when I saw her across a crowded room and smiled wide without a second thought. Sure, I must have looked like an utter geek, but my God, when a beauty like Delpy lights up a room, it stays well and truly lit. Having once again graced Richard Linklater’s highlights reel with an award-worthy turn in Before Sunset, she showed that despite what Ann Coulter might say, the French really do produce things of great beauty. And the older Julie Delpy gets, the more beautiful she seems to become. At this rate, she’s going to make a heck of a 58-year-old.
#17 LINDSAY LOHAN
I don’t for a second think she’s the most talented teenager in town, but nobody can deny that the plastic surgery work Lindsay Lohan has undergone has helped her career along, and helped her earn a new legion of fans. The superlative black comedy that was Mean Girls surely didn’t hurt her appeal either, as Lohan played a great straight man to Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert and Amanda Seyfried and earned big time box office. The year ahead sees her slated to star in no less than seven films, two of which are ominously referred to as “Untitled Lindsay Lohan Project.” Eat shit, Hilary Duff.
#16 CATHERINE ZETA-JONES
I’m told by several of my operatives working in hotels all over town that Catherine Zeta-Jones is the biggest cow in show biz, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s insanely attractive, in that ‘I know she’d eat me alive, but I don’t even care’ kind of way. The Zeet had a good last couple of years, what with her Chicago turn earning her awards and acclaim. She turned in a decent performance in Ocean’s 12, an otherwise pedestrian film, and she managed to stay above water in The Terminal, despite playing a character that has an ultimately unlikable trait. I want to despise CZJ, simply because she’s not pleasant to those around her, but I am ultimately a male, and thus I must live with the shame that, yes, I’d do ‘er regardless.
#15 ELISHA CUTHBERT
Color me late on the scene for this honeypot, as the first season of 24 left me wanting to strangle her and her ‘always doing the wrong ass thing’ character. But 2004 brought a new lease of life on Elisha Cuthbert, with a surprising turn in a surprisingly good film – The Girl Next Door. Cuthbert played a porno actress with a heart of gold, yet she did well enough, in what should have been a real Tara Reid role, to win accolades from the most unlikely of critics. An appearance in Old School got her the daily double in surprisingly good comedies for the year, but she’s yet another who found herself ensnared in the ‘geeky guy macks on three hotties’ fantasy that should have been cut way the hell out of Love Actually. One to watch… in more ways than one.
#14 AMANDA PEET
Proof positive that everyone gets a second chance, Amanda Peet makes this list despite being in the worst film of the year by a country mile – The Whole Ten Yards. This unbelievable piece of cinematic doody failed in so many ways, it could have been directed by Donald Rumsfeld. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t action-packed, it wasn’t watchable, it wasn’t listenable, it wasn’t rentable, and it sure as hell wasn’t passable. But Amanda Peet was in it, providing some of the few moments that weren’t punctuated by the sound of audience members gurgling their bile. Ms Peet does have talent, and she does have fans…so here’s hoping she takes a wide detour around Bruce Willis projects in the near future, and maybe continues to wear not much in her movies. Hey, you didn’t think I meant acting talent, did you?
#13 VIRGINIE LEDOYEN
Who? Oh, go rent a foreign film once in a while, you ignorant pig. Virginie Ledoyen is one of the up’n’coming French flock who seem to spatter every second American film nowadays, for two reasons. First, they’re beautiful. Second, they can act. Ms Ledoyen is a great symbol for both, and her turn in 2002’s 8 Women (which I did not like, but only caught up with this year, thus she scores a spot on this list) was the stuff of 50’s A-list pin-up starlets. Which made me check her out in 2000’s Leo DiCaprio flop, The Beach. Yes sir, I am indeed a fan.
#12 LAUREN GRAHAM
I’m not the biggest fan of the Gilmore Girls, though I can totally appreciate Lauren Graham’s comedic delivery and understand why it has made that show such a cult hit. To me, the dialogue is just a little too perfect, and so it was that another performance altogether turned me into a fan of the Graham cracker…Bad Santa. If any man can go past the “fuck me Santa, fuck me Santa” scene without laughing out loud AND crossing his legs, then damn, you ought to call the meatwagon right away. We’ve got a cold one!
#11 MICHELLE TRACHTENBERG
Is it creepy to call a girl born in 1985 ‘hot’? Not really, but when you watched that girl grow up in things like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Inspector Gadget and Harriet The Spy, well let’s just say the math doesn’t stop you from feeling weird about it all. But hey, push through it and set your eyes on Eurotrip, a funny enough flick (if you go in expecting nothing at all) featuring The Trach in a role that, like Elizabeth Berkley’s part in Showgirls, is guaranteed to alert the world that our little Harriet has not only grown up, but she’s also a fox. Of course, she’ll end up in straight-to-video action films in about two years time, and a career in porn awaits after that, but for now let’s just wish upon a star that little Michelle gets an agent that knows how to lay on the good scripts.
#10 LUDIVINE SAGNIER
Yes, another French actress, but what do you want me to do? They keep cranking out the hotties over there, and there’s none hotter than Ludivine. Just go rent Swimming Pool if you want a good example of how this froggy vixen burns holes in your retinas and disrobes at the drop of a clapperboard. And if that’s not enough, go back in time to her earlier appearance in Water Drops on Burning Rocks and I guarantee you, a new fan will be born. Ludivine went a little Hollywood this year, to mixed success, but when back in France she tends to appear in some of the artiest fare around, and is completely brave when choosing roles, and performing them. She’s like a better-looking, eminently more successful version of Lili Taylor. Which sucks for Lili Taylor.
#9 ZHANG ZIYI
How many red-blooded suburban American boys got their first Asian-girl crush because of this martial arts/ballet dancer combo? Doing what she can to unite the cultures of North America and the Far East, Zhang Ziyi is breathtakingly beautiful, amazingly agile, and… h-outrageously hot (the alliteration was working so well for a while there). Watch her smooth moves in House of Flying Daggers, or watch her fly through the trees in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon… Whatever she’s in (though it’s almost always Chinese martial arts period epics these days), she chews up the scenery like Kirstie Alley at a Frisch’s Big Boy buffet breakfast. Here’s hioping she doesn’t sign a contract with Joel Silver and end up doing urban gangsta chop socky flicks with rappers, like poor Jet Li did.
#8 CHRISTINA RICCI
I came to a drastic conclusion this year – one that I really didn’t want to think about too much. After seeing Christina Ricci in Miranda, then Monster, then Pumpkin, then I Love Your Work, I came to the conclusion that she really can’t act. I know, everyone thought she ruled in Monster, but look deeper – she really only has one emotion, one tone, one volume… I honestly think she’s benefited from some great scripts over the years. That said, man oh man, is she smokin’. Large forehead be damned, I’d climb that thing like a rope ladder. And she’s dating Adam Goldberg, which should give goofy looking guys the world over faith that they’re in with a shot.
#7 JESSICA BIEL
“I’ve got your Seventh Heaven right here!” Thanks Todd-man. Jess Biel has always been one of those TV cuties that you never expect much of, but as can be seen in the picture accompanying this article, the “Biel and end all” isn’t exactly following the script. She survived Summer Catch to be hilariously slutworthy in Rules of Attraction, then carried the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, and even appeared in an episode of Trading Spaces before she bulked up and got ornery with the bow and arrow in Blade: Trinity. Competing for screen time with the ever-wisecracking Ryan Reynolds, the ever-scowling Wesley “Snore” Snipes, and the ever-dominant-and-awesome Parker Posey, Biel shut the hell up and did what was required – looked great, kicked butt, and looked great. More please.
#6 LUCY LIU
I know, she looks like a harsh biotch, and she did agree to appear in the awful Charlie’s Angels sequel, but take a good long look at Lucy Liu and tell me she isn’t one of the most strikingly beautiful women of her generation, and I’ll call you a poopyhead. Loudly. She’s come a long way from being one of Jerry Maguire’s ex-girlfriends – in fact, after her chest-slashing turn in Kill Bill: Volume 2, her dominatrix role in Payback, and her ‘I can kick ass just as well as you can’ appearance opposite Jackie Chan in Shanghai Noon, you’ve got to wonder if the Liu-natic isn’t destined for a career in the action genre. Or porn. I’m okay with either option, frankly.
#5 SCARLETT JOHANSSON
The girl with the gravitationally impossible rack and supernova lips worked in so many flicks this year that she may well be due for a little R&R lest she start to suffer from over-exposure. Not that I'd be concerned if more of her were exposed, but I have to temper with the admission that... well... I hate to say it, but Scarlett ain't that great an actress. Girl With a Pearl Earring was yawn-inducing, A Love Song For Bobby Long saw Scarlett performed off the screen by an over the top Travolta (of all people), and though In Good Company is great, it's not SJ that makes it so. Still, I wouldn't boot her out of bed if she peed on a pillow. Oh, like you would...
#4 AMY SMART
The powers that be keep on trying to make Amy Smart an A-list leading lady, and she just keeps on taking roles that refuse to allow such things to happen. The girl who will always appear in my dreams reenacting the dorm room scene from Road Trip is just too cute for words. And having met her once (okay, I scammed an ‘oops’ moment during a party, but hey, it was contact!), I can safely say she seems like a genuinely fun broad who doesn’t obsess over whether or not she’s this month’s it-girl. Witness her lesbo-liplock with Carmen Electra in Starsky and Hutch if you have your doubts…
#3 NEVE CAMPBELL
Thousands of men went out to watch Neve Campbell take a shower in this year’s James Toback-directed film When Will I Be Loved, continuing a self-imposed arthouse exile for the actress made slasher spoofs an industry, and once took a role opposite Denise Richards in the sex-on-tap thriller Wild Things in which she famously refused to get her gear off like everyone else. You can catch Ms Campbell’s first screen outing if you watch old reruns of Kids in the Hall, but for me, she’ll always be Bonnie from The Craft. ”I am huuuman and I need to be looooooved…”
#2 NATALIE PORTMAN
What list of hot women in Hollywood could ever be complete without Portman involved? Put simply, she’s awesome in every single way you can be awesome. She picks awesome scripts, she pulls off awesome performances, she makes you fall for her in every single outing, no matter what, she’s a smart cookie to boot, and clearly (if you take her Garden State performance as a guide) she has a sense of humor. Best of all, after making film geeks decidedly uncomfortable with the amount of praise we once heaped upon her when she was 13 (Beautiful Girls AND The Professional AND Heat? That’s a career right there!), we can finally feel good about liking her… Unless of course Star Wars Episode III features a lot of George Lucas’ always-awful love dialogue, in which case she might have a few brownie points to earn back in the years to come.
#1 MONICA BELLUCCI
Was there ever any doubt? This Italian bombshell, who had audiences falling over themselves to read her name off the credits in Malena, has just wiped out the competition for the last few years as she goes from better to best, great film to devastatingly great film, and top line performance to near Oscar-worthy performance. As Mary Magdalena in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, you’d never have guessed that just a few short months earlier she was courting controversy with her extended anal rape scene in the harsh-but-worth-it French film, Irreversible. The Virgin Mary being buggered in a subway tunnel by a drunk bondage pervert? How could this be? Well, it could be because Monica Bellucci is simply the most beautiful woman on planet earth, and that’s the start and end of any controversy involving her. She wins – end of story.
AND NOW… THE OTHER END OF THE SCALE!
Yes, what hottest list could ever be complete without finishing it off with a “not even close” list? Hollywood is full of women who are uglier than a bulldog after a tussle with an Escalade, though we’re told by the media and marketing people that they are beautiful, and thus we rarely argue the point. So just quickly, let’s rattle them off, in order of least homeliness.
#15 NAOMI WATTS
It hurts to type this, because I once had the biggest crush on this girl back when she was just a struggling actress that I’d occasionally bump into at parties, but Naomi has allowed the drive to be thin to kick in, and she’s now a bag of bones with a stretched face and an increasingly fat wallet. She can act, no doubt about that, but she’s not ‘hot’ anymore. Sorry Na’.
#14 JENNIFER “J-GA” GARNER
She’s a MAN, baby! Sorry guys, but I can’t tow the party line on Garner – she’s all cheek corners, rippling pythons and ‘once false move and I’ll snap it off’ machismo. I just can’t think of her in any way other than ‘the large and in charge chick with cheeks that could cut glass’. Thus, she be un-hot.
#13 NICOLE KIDMAN
She was gorgeous. She was breathtaking. She was the most attractive redhead on the planet. She was an ever-present hottie, but then she did what they all do when they have more money and time than any person should – they get a personal trainer, ditch eating as a daily ritual, and ‘thin up’. Kidman just isn’t attractive anymore, and it’s the flagpole arms, praying mantis posture, and pulled too tight face that are to blame. She’s come a long way down from Eyes Wide Shut, yo.
#12 ASHLEY JUDD
I used to think the Lesser Judd was really beautiful, but I’m sorry, I just can’t go past the fact that she’s been in nothing but awful movies for the last three years. And not just awful movies, but movies that had awful concepts that you KNEW would be awful just by virtue of their title. Double Jeopardy? High Crimes? Twisted? Kiss The Girls? Someone Like You? Give me a freaking break. To porn with you, woman!
#11 KIRSTEN DUNST
Oh, I know, lads, you all think she’s beautiful, but look closer, man. She’s pug ugly! Come on, she’s got the freshly smashed face of a train suicide, the hair of a dime store mannequin, and the posture of a 6’7” female basketball player. She has a permanent look of ‘readiness to attack’… okay, she has a rack, but so does Mimi Rogers and I don’t see any of you putting her on your screensavers. Dunst = done!
#10 KEIRA KNIGHTLEY
How this ironing board with lips ever got into the ‘hot’ class is beyond me, but I guess there’s a market out there for tomboys with concave chests. Thankfully, the year of every second film starring KK has come to a close, and with minimal damage to world box office figures. Pirates of the Caribbean threatened to unleash a wave of boy-like hysteria on the men of the world, but her rather non-existent return on King Arthur should see Ms Knightley consigned back to Britain where she can do little damage to men’s libidos.
#9 HALLE “ROADKILL” BERRY
Ah, how sweet it is to have watched the diva herself go down in an avalanche of flames for 2004. Catwoman was such a bad movie they couldn’t even get a good trailer out of it (like we couldn’t all see that coming from the moment she signed on), Gothika was terrrrrrrrrrible, and her appearance in X-Men 2 was a snore. From the moment she claimed to have ‘opened the doors’ to black women around America by winning her Oscar for Monster’s Ball, a large portion of the planet was waiting for this self-important BAP to get her reality check. Thank you 2004, you’ve done your job well.
#8 MARIAH CAREY
It’s not like anyone cares anymore, since Mariah spends her days rocking back and forth on the end of a couch, telling her story to a $5,000 an hour record company therapist, but just in case you missed it, Mariah Carey sucked all year. She was pretty once, way back when she was just a girl with a great voice, but she hasn’t used that great voice for anything substantial in years, and her prettiness has been replaced by wannabe gangsta-styling that never suited a girl with all the street cred of Martha Stewart. 10 CC’s of morphine and a well-padded, sequined pillow, thanks Doc.
#7 BRITTANY MURPHY
I just don’t have the words for Brittany Murphy. I mean, come on, if she passed you on the street, surely you can admit that you wouldn’t look twice at her, other than to maybe say, “Hey, when did the junkies move in to the neighborhood?” Look, I’m not saying she’s using, I’m just saying that if she’s not, it’s a terrible waste of heroin chic. Remember the three minutes when Brittany Murphy was A-list? No, neither do I. Next!
#6 JENNIFER “J-LO” LOPEZ
Hey Jennifer, Hootie and the Blowfish called – they reserved a place for you on the “Get The Fuck Back To 2001 Where You Belong” Express. All aboard!
#5 JESSICA SIMPSON/ASHLEE SIMPSON
Who knew mental retardation could make you famous? “Oh my guh!” What a year it’s been for this pair of talentless boobs. You’ve got one who turned her life into a reality show, because I guess just being a millionaire and adored by millions wasn’t keeping the lights on, and the other is such a coattail-riding failure that she couldn’t even get her backing track right and was busted lip-synching. Gotta say their manager father isn’t the brightest spark – I mean who couldn’t have predicted that Ashlee would get booed at the halftime show of one of America’s most widely-watched football games? What were they thinking, that the crowd would be full of 12-year-old girls? Get a job, you talentless ho-bags.
#4 THE OLSEN TWINS
This is what happens when you don’t have a childhood and you have more money than Donald Trump – you get on the Coke, you get an eating disorder, and your first real feature film becomes a financial disaster. What really scares me, however, is the number of guys that think these two scarecrows are hot. Twin fantasies aside… seriously guys, what are you thinking?
#3 CAMERON DIAZ
She’s a flathead. She’d go nicely with white wine, some Alaskan crab, a spray of lemon and a sprig of parsley. Russian fishermen chase her with big nets, and when they bring her in, they prepare her for market. Seriously guys, Cameron Diaz is not pretty. It’s as if, when she was born, the doctor accidentally leaned on her face while her skull was still tender. Okay, she looks good in cotton panties, but so do I, you don’t see anyone calling me ‘hot’.
#2 TARA REID
It’s a crime she’s even well known enough to include on this list, but give it a good year or so more of the drunken coke-whore routine and she won’t be anywhere near it. Tara Reid has all the talent of a side of beef, and all the sex appeal of same. She’s a waste of good fortune, a shining example of how talent just doesn’t matter to Hollywood, and the perfect case study of how people get famous for being famous. For God’s sake, take away her car keys and help her to a clinic already.
#1 PARIS “SEMEN SPONGE” HILTON
If you meet any film director who admits to having cast this talentless scumbag in a feature film, I’ll pay you fifty bucks to punch him in the throat. Who’s in for twenty? Anyone? When you get to the point where even gossip columnists decide to ban you from their pages, you’re officially old news. Sadly, teenage boys don’t have a high recall rate on talent, and they instead pound Google with the name of any old scrubber who has a sex video online, and thus the media is fooled into thinking anyone gives a damn about Paris Hilton. Just in case you’re watching, media, we don’t care about her at all. In fact, she disgusts us. If any of us had her mountains of unearned wealth, we might do great things in the world – start a charity, donate to a scholarship fund, build a company that serves a genuine need. What does P-Hilton do instead? She designs a line of handbags, writes a book about herself (or rather, pays someone else to write it), records a single that no DJ will play unless she’s present and insisting he do so, and gets her ass in a porn video. What a waste of non-talent. What a scumbag. What a foul indictment on humanity. To hell with her and all her ilk. May they be first against the wall when the revolution comes.
So that’s 2004. Anyone we missed? Let us know in the forums!
link directly to this feature at https://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1291
originally posted: 01/11/05 20:03:41
last updated: 01/12/05 20:48:20