The 2010 Nerve Red-Band Awards

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Welcome to the first annual Nerve Red-Band Awards, honoring all that was sexy in film this year. From A Single Man to Up in the Air, from those actors who achieved sex-symbol status to those who saw it slip away, from the hottest thing on screen to the least erotic: we've consulted our experts, and the winners have finally been chosen. Join us for the exciting results.

A Single Man

It’s not just that Colin Firth swims around naked in a pool and skinny dips with pouty pretty boy (and Sexiest Performance nominee) Nicholas Hoult. And it’s not just Julianne Moore’s eyeliner and lip gloss. It’s not even that virtually every second of the film is suffused with longing glances, suppressed passion, and desperate yearning. While all that clearly helped, A Single Man was voted Nerve’s Sexiest Picture of 2009 simply because it was the one movie we literally wanted to have sex with, thanks to fashion designer-cum-film director Tom Ford’s sumptuous eye for visuals and Mad Men-on-Ecstasy early ‘60s fashion porn. Plus: great acting and especially great writing (by Ford and David Scearce, adapting a novel by Christopher Isherwood) are always totally hot. — Andrew Osborne

Runners-Up: Duplicity, An Education, Up in the Air


Lluís Homar, Broken Embraces



Pedro Almodóvar's Broken Embraces opens in the apartment of a famous former movie director who has gone blind, and who, when we meet him, has persuaded a beautiful, statuesque blonde to help guide him across the street and upstairs to his home. Once settled in, he effortlessly convinces her to help him make sure that he's still in full working order below the eyes. When these spirited preliminaries are over, the woman leaves, never to be seen again, and the movie can begin to explain, in flashback, how the director went about losing his career, his eyesight, and his one true love (Penelope Cruz, demonstrating once again that those who've never seen her in a Spanish-speaking role have no idea what they're missing). No doubt all of this was very sad for him, but it wouldn't do for a good-looking guy in an Almodóvar movie to just sit around crying about it. — Phil Nugent

Runners-Up: Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, Adventureland; Jason Statham and Amy Smart, Crank: High Voltage, George Clooney and Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air


Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe, Antichrist


Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to call what happens between Gainsbourg and Dafoe late in Lars von Trier’s 2009 outrage Antichrist a “sex scene” – at least, that’s not the way we remember it from health class – but there’s no question it was the worst thing to happen to genitals on a movie screen last year. Gainsbourg, whose sanity is slipping away following the death of her toddler son, has finally had enough of psychiatrist husband Dafoe’s patronizing attempts to cure her, so she does what any of us would do under the circumstances: she smashes his testicles with a large block of wood, then jerks him off until he ejaculates blood. We’re pretty sure this isn’t in the Kama Sutra, but if you make it this far into Antichrist, you might as well stick around for Gainsbourg’s encore, in which she snips off her own clitoris with a rusty pair of scissors. That’s why we love Lars von Trier: there’s a little something for everyone. — Scott Von Doviak

Runners-Up: Matt Czuchry and Yvette Yates, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell; Katherine Heigl and vibrating underwear, The Ugly Truth; Patrick Wilson and Malin Ackerman, Watchmen


Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air


To watch Vera Farmiga make suave, cocky lady-killer George Clooney weak in the knees in Up in the Air is to wonder where she’s been all our lives. True, she did turn our heads as the sexy shrink who scored both Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed, but aside from that blip on the radar, her filmography has been a perilous terrain riddled with pitfalls. (Running Scared, anyone?) That should change thanks to her Oscar-nominated turn as a corporate frequent flyer who aptly describes herself to Clooney’s similarly well-traveled hatchet man as “you with a vagina.” It can’t be easy to cast the woman who makes The Cloon realize he’s met his match, but Farmiga pulls it off with ease, humor, and piercing ice-blue eyes. — Scott Von Doviak

Runners-Up: Penelope Cruz, Broken Embraces; Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds; Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer’s Body


George Clooney, Up in the Air


There is a moment in Up in the Air when Anna Kendrick's twenty-something, recently hired career-girl says of George Clooney's Ryan Bingham, "No, I don't even think of him that way, he's old." And in this moment you might wonder, "Wait, is her character blind and deaf? How did I miss that?" Because even in this role — as a man hired out to lay off other companies' employees — Clooney's charm is irrepressible. In fact, it's a requirement: without those soulful eyes and warm, gravelly voice, his character might never gain our sympathy. But Clooney can sell anything, whether it's an inspirational talk about leaving all emotional bonds in the dust or a heart-to-heart about how the most important moments of our lives are the ones we share with others. Hell, by the end of the movie, we'd even be happy to have the man fire us. — James Brady Ryan

Runners-Up: Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker; Taylor Lautner, New Moon; Nicholas Hoult, A Single Man

The 2010 Nerve Red-Band Awards


Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days of Summer


Unless you’re Sting (or the beneficiary of one of those endless Viagra erections), the physical act of intercourse with a new partner often takes far less time for guys than all the anticipation leading up to it and the satisfied (or revisionist) recollections thereafter — which makes (500) Days of Summer’s celebratory post-coital production number, set to Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams," one of the most relatable, sexiest movie moments of 2009. After finally bagging delectable Zooey Deschanel’s Summer (the would-be dream girl he’s been pursuing for thirty-one of the film’s 500 days), Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s morning-after grin and happy-feet celebration rings true for anyone whose “walk of shame” ever morphed into a full-blown victory dance. — Andrew Osborne

Runners-Up: Stanley Tucci's touching speech, Julie and Julia; Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard meet at the hat counter, Public Enemies; Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law's sweaty fight, Sherlock Holmes


Anna Chlumsky, In the Loop

Nineteen years ago, Anna Chlumsky starred in My Girl. And besides its sequel in 1994, she had done little else outside of a quick appearance in an episode of 30 Rock. So it came as quite a surprise when we saw Chlumsky, no longer a tomboy, but rather a gorgeous woman in the whip-smart British comedy In the Loop. She's confident, uses her sexiness to get ahead of the competition (or at least her slightly bumbling U.K. counterpart), and keenly intelligent, writing a paper entitled "Post War Planning: Parameters, Implications and Possibilities" that becomes a central plot point. She's also got a dirty mouth on her, with lines like, "You’re a douchebag on fucking wheels." And we all know there's nothing sexier than a girl with attitude. — Josh Kurp

Runners-Up: Ryan Reynolds, Adventureland; Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds; Zachary Quinto, Star Trek


Gerard Butler, The Ugly Truth

Oh, Gerry. We had a good thing going there for a while: your muscles were the stuff of legend, your loincloth was imitated at countless costume parties, and your booming pronouncements about your dinner plans were meme-d to death. How is it possible that the man behind the aggressive, take-me-now King Leonidas in 300 managed to fall so precipitously in our esteem? Two words: vibrating underwear. For anyone who saw the smug, terribly clothed Butler chuckle as the grating Katherine Heigl is embarrassed by pair of remote-controlled panties in the trailer for The Ugly Truth, it was the beginning of the end. The fact that the tepid and clichéd rom-com turned out seemingly more sexist than the tale of an ancient warrior society of oiled-up gym-rats? Well, washboard abs or no, Butler just didn't do it for us anymore. — James Brady Ryan

Runners-Up: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side; Michael C. Hall, Gamer; Sasha Grey, The Girlfriend Experience


Jeff Bridges

As the son of the muy macho character actor and second-line action star Lloyd Bridges, Jeff Bridges wasn't "Hollywood royalty" so much as the offspring of the handsome head gardener whom the Countess likes to supervise while her husband is sleeping off the effects of his gout medication. Since his first important role, at age twenty-two, in The Last Picture Show (1971) — in which he earned the first of his five Academy Award nominations as the small-town boy who is the only man for the job when the local bitch goddess (Cybill Shepherd) decides it's time for her deflowering — Bridges has sustained a career as one of the most versatile, dependable, and sought-after actors in the world for almost forty years, a man who easily melts into his roles with no visible show of technique or actorish fuss.


But for our purposes, what's most remarkable about him may be his vast range as a lust object. Even the greatest actors have usually had a narrow range in which they were at their sexiest — you don't think about how Cary Grant would have played any of Mickey Rourke's roles, or vice versa, unless you're trying to postpone an orgasm. But Bridges has been equally effective in roles that called for him to convey the appeal of an overgrown lost puppy (The Last American Hero), an Ivy League eco-hippie (King Kong), a West Coast gigolo who keeps his soul in a storage unit (Cutter's Way), a few different varieties of rich, selfish sons of bitches (The Fisher King), and the President of the United States (The Contender).

Once lauded for his everyman "naturalness," he updated '40s-movie romantic glamor for the age of Prozac in The Fabulous Baker Boys. In Starman, he made sci-fi history as one of the first extraterrestrial visitors to our planet to get him some. And almost ten years later, he became a cult god to a new generation in the Coen brothers' The Big Lebowski as the Dude, a character said to be close to his heart. (He has since revived the Dude in all but name in a couple of his performances, including last year's Surf's Up, in which he voice a cartoon penguin.) His latest, Crazy Heart, a movie that basically is his performance, extends his sex-symbol status into his sixth decade. Next up: the hard-drinking Western lawman Rooster Cogburn in the Coens' remake of True Grit. John Wayne won his only Oscar for his performance in the original; however else that compares with the new version, we confidently predict that Bridges will be a far sight easier on the eyes. — Phil Nugent

Runners-Up: Kathryn Bigelow, George Clooney, Susan Sarandon