Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Surely, photoshopped abs came to mind. While it is like having more icing on the icing on the cake to own a perfect set of washboard abs, a man is still defined by what he does than the way he looks. Jacob Palmer’s (played by Ryan Gosling) dapper suits have been functioning as the saving grace to his rakish, incorrigible womanizing ways; that is, until irony smacks him in the face and he seeks Cal’s (played by Steve Carell) help to genuinely win Hannah (played by Emma Stone) over. It is hard to find fault with Gosling’s lovable asshole portrayal in the first place, but it never fails to warm the cockles to see some measure of redemptive qualities in a man.
Or maybe, it just made the list because he’s Ryan Gosling.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
If there was ever a subtle tribute being made here amidst the whirlpool of excess wealth, greed and corruption in the late 1920’s, it is the art of manliness. We’re talking perfectly tailored suits (pink, nonetheless!), polished AF mannerisms, self-improvement and the ambition of chasing the impossible green light. Our man Leo couldn’t have done it any better; besides, it was his birthday just two weeks back, it would be a grave oversight on our part if we didn’t throw this classic in. Isn’t that so, old sport?
The Dark Knight
By day, billionaire Bruce Wayne kills it in the boardroom (was he ever there?) and with the ladies. By night, he literally kills it as Gotham’s caped vigilante. Although he comes across a free-wheeling, hotel buying, spoiled young prince of Wayne Manor in the first instalment, there were elaborate reasons to his madness. He shouldered the responsibility to protect whoever was left among his closest aides. Those larger-than-life ambitions, self-assuredness, mysterious broodiness, self-made crime-fighting gadgets and the Tumbler (duh) make The Dark Knight one of the few icons who can pull off manliness with the perfect dose of badassery.
We need more men like this.
James Bond: Casino Royale (2006)
Speaking of men and badassery, here’s another iconic one, without the mask and cape. Our favourite secret agent does everything with panache; whether it’s exchanging blows with a baddie on top of a running train or simply ordering a Martini at the bar, 007 is smoother than velvet.
How can we not also pay special mention to those bespoke tuxedos he kicks ass in, without ripping a seam or two? Certainly, there’s some truth to how a suit tells a man’s worth: when Mr Bond got his balls whipped (literally) in Casino Royale, he coolly remarked he had “an itch down there” that needs scratching. There is no room for dispute there; being able to maintain balls of steel under pressure and still see humour in the sitch definitely qualifies for the mark of The Man.
Fight Club (1999)
Underneath all the testosterone-charged, aggro socking in the fight club formed by the unnamed narrator and Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt), the message is that destruction can be beautiful. By that, we don’t mean Mr Pitt himself looking strangely sexier after being roughed up, but more like to lose all hope is freedom. Sometimes, we have to admit that it’s a-ok for a man to hit rock bottom and release himself from the shackles of life. Because from there, the only way to go is up and (stand) out.
Blood. Gore. Abs. Nudity. Sex. That pretty much sums up the Spartan hack and slash flick. Perhaps there’s nothing quite relatable in all the barbaric growling and unrestrained swearing (unless you’re playing dress up during Halloween), but lessons in masculinity are in abundance. Overwhelmingly so. Just look at how King Leonidas and his beefcakes handled things when faced with a sea of Persian army. Take a leaf from these men’s books; while you don’t have to ‘die honorably’ for a cause you are passionate about, it is unquestionably admirable for a man to have unyielding self-belief in himself, despite the impossible odds stacked against him.
Want to learn lessons in manhood? Who better to glean insights from than those above mankind: Demigods. Other than chivalrously defending Asgardians against Frost Giants, Dark Elves and his own brother Loki, Thor keeps to his word like a real man (god) would: travelling through realms to return to Earth to reunite with his romantic interest Jane, despite the destruction of the Bi-Frost. With Chris Hemsworth reprising the role with his rugged charms and stone chiselled bod, it gives a wholesome edge to Thor. Talk about shooting electricity.
Top Gun (1986)
A nickname like ‘Maverick’ would have set alarm bells ringing. To the ladies, at least. Besides capturing spectacular aerial manoeuvres, Tom Cruise’s charismatic portrayal of Lieutenant Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell co-piloted the catapult of the 1986 film into a perennial favourite. As much as a man of substance maintains his cool and classiness, he isn’t afraid to embrace his daredevil spirit and get the job done in his own unorthodox way. Throw in the pilot overalls, bikes and aviators and you would’ve built for yourself a Top Guy.
Top Hat (1935)
The SERIOUSLY MAN team only included this because of the one underappreciated man skill that probably didn’t cross your mind: busting a dance move or two. Not the put-your-hands-up shuffle-your-feet haphazard mess, but the smooth kind exhibited by Jerry Travers (played by Fred Astaire) in this black-and-white classic. It is also worth mentioning that during the time the film was released (1935), gentlemanliness was a huge thing. Watching Jerry win over his love interest Dale Tremont with just that and his quick wit makes it ever so delightful. But of course, all that tap dancing sequences completes the package like a top hat on a tuxedo.
A film that revolves around a ‘Date Doctor’ has got to have elements of smoothness, suaveness and sophistication: just about the best ingredients you can use to mix up a cocktail called The Man.
With Will Smith as the lead, ‘Hitch’ won’t disappoint if your definition of a man is to achieve ladies’ men status. While us men inadvertently take home nuggets of inspiration from Hitch’s teachings, it’s easy for gossip mongers to mistake someone like this as a man who ‘knows all the tricks in the book’ and picks up women for amusement. But what separates the pretenders and bad apples from the bona fide modern day man is exactly what we see in Hitch: ethics.
And the cojones to slap the taste out of someone’s mouth if he does something wrong.