Speculation surrounds People magazine's choice for Sexiest Man Alive for 2012

| Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, 8:53 p.m.

People will announce its Sexiest Man Alive for 2012 this week, forcing last year's winner, Georgetown University grad Bradley Cooper, to pass his crown of sexiness on to some other well-deserving bastion of male hotness. The website Gossip Cop recently reported that the glossy magazine has chosen Channing Tatum to serve in this crucial role. Because this is a matter of national security and newsstand sales, People has not confirmed that report. That means all we can do until Wednesday is speculate about who may soon be deemed the most alluring guy on the planet.

Look, the presidential election is over, so we have to speculate about something. Here are five contenders for the title:

Channing Tatum

Why he could be Sexiest Man Alive:That Gossip Cop item aside, this has been a breakout year for Tatum. He demonstrated his appeal this year in three important ways: by making women laugh (“21 Jump Street”), swoon (“The Vow”) and watch him take off his clothes during Ginuwine's “Pony” (“Magic Mike”).

Why he might not: He could be seen as — please pardon the “Magic Mike” double entendre — overexposed.

Robert Downey Jr.

Why he could be: A favorite of our readers, the (iron) man has a lot working in his favor. He was in the biggest blockbuster of 2012, “The Avengers,” and will reprise his role as Tony Stark next year in “Iron Man 3.” He recently became a dad for the second time, which has raised his warm-and-cuddly numbers exponentially. Plus — and this could be the factor that ultimately takes him to the top — his strutability ratings are extremely high, as demonstrated during his swagger-filled entrance into Comic-Con 2012.

Why he might not: There is really no reason, unless he just doesn't feel like having his picture taken for the People photo spread. But even that's not a deal-breaker.

Hugh Jackman

Why he could be: He's starring in one of the splashier, awards-buzzy films of this holiday season, “Les Miserables,” making him a particularly timely choice. He's also the rare individual who can wear Wolverine mutton chops and still look pretty handsome.

Why he might not: He already earned the title back in 2008. Perhaps, People would not want a Jackman repeat quite so soon.

Daniel Craig

Why he could be: He's James Bond, and he's starring in “Skyfall,” which is poised to blow up big at the box office and in terms of cultural conversation.

Why he might not: His reputation as a super-serious guy might persuade People editors to opt for someone more willing to embrace his Sexiest Man status.

Ryan Gosling

Why he could be: As some may recall, the committed Gosling constituency flipped out last year when Cooper got the title instead of the “Hey Girl” Messiah. Perhaps it's time to officially confirm his status as the most-desirable male among People's target demographic?

Why he might no: If People chooses him, they may come across as looking too desperate to make up for last year's perceived snub.

Jen Chaney is a staff writer for The Washington Post.

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