People has slid its Sexiest Man Alive cover reveal a bit later in November — I think we’re still about a week away — but today felt like a good day to engage in some wanton speculation about this year’s winner. In the last four years, we’ve had The Rock, Blake Shelton, Idris Elba, and John Legend. This means we’re probably due for them to pick a boring doofy white dude, and I was all set to guess Matthew McConaughey because he’s peddling that memoir, but he’s already been on the cover of People for that — and only about two weeks ago, and his kids took the photos. So I think that excludes him.

It’s a weird year for this one. There aren’t a lot of screamingly obvious contenders. Let’s throw some names at the wall, and please note, this is a combination of actual suggestions and simply me trying to put my What Would People Do? hat on and make actual guesses. Like with this first one:

– Ben Affleck, if he is in need of image smoothing. The story can have a “heartwarming” angle about his romance with Ana de Armas, and bonus points if they use it to announce that she’s pregnant (“Sexy and a Dad Again At 48!”). But he’s so close to 50, so I feel like his campaign will be for 2022.

– How about a father/son passing-the-torch issue for former winner Denzel and his son John David Washington, both of whom have been talked about in the Oscar convo (although Tenet was a letdown for JDW; Denzel produced Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)?

– Michael B. Jordan should always be in the conversation. So should Henry Golding. But People loves a hook, and I don’t know what theirs is right now, other than sexiness. Which should be enough, but.

– If Stanley Tucci had made his cocktails a month ago instead of at the beginning of the pandemic, I’d say him, because he’s also got Oscar buzz for something called Supernova and he feels like a very People choice. “Tucci: The Internet’s Boyfriend at 59.”

– Colin Firth, who has a movie that miiiight get mild Oscar buzz; he’s right in that same sweet spot.

– John Legend voted for Jason Momoa, because he said that when he won, everyone told him it should have been Jason Momoa. I will sincerely laugh if People runs with this.

– People — like humans, not necessarily People — are really into Keanu Reeves right now.

– They are also really into Harry Styles, but would People go that young?

– Dr. Anthony Fauci, if Jess Cagle is feeling punchy. I endorse this.

– Anderson Cooper became a dad this year, during the pandemic, and we’ve all been glued to the news this year. There’s a chance there.

– Chris Evans feels like the safe pick — like, don’t you think his photo is on the board every year, as the one they’ll call if they can’t think of anyone else? Bonus points if they do one about Hot Hollywood Chrises and “accidentally” leave out Pratt.

– Paul Rudd, who was just handing out cookies to people waiting in line to vote, would be a very calming choice. But to me he’s another one that people suggest when they’re not happy with the actual pick, and not someone they actually think should win.

– I will scream if it’s bland Armie Hammer, with some ridiculous story about how he’s healing his heart after his divorce and ready to love again. Zzz.

– And I would laugh my ass off if they punt and make it Dale from The Bachelorette, the man so sexy that the show’s star couldn’t even stomach the idea of five more weeks of free play. (This surely will not happen, and would signify that everyone at People was completely out of ideas.)

– I am going to suggest an inside page memorializing the fact that Chadwick Boseman SHOULD have been an obvious choice, but for cancer rudely robbing the world of his artistry and intelligence and beauty. Chadwick might collect posthumous Oscar nods for Best Actor in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Best Supporting Actor for Da 5 Bloods.┬áHe should still be here. It’s so, so tragic.

At least it won’t be Joe Exotic. I am ready never to hear about Tiger King again.

All right, these are just a couple ideas. You will all have better ones. GO.

[Photos: People Magazine]