It is a truth universally acknowledged that no face is so perfect that it cannot be improved by an excellent beard. 2017 was resplendent with beards, filled to the very brim with follicular festivity. This year was a year we said, "Beard burn BE DAMNED, I want to rub my face on your face."
These are the faces for which we would gladly let our skin suffer.
John Wick (Keanu Reeves), John Wick 2
John Wick’s beard is a hairy dichotomy. It’s short yet full, elegantly trimmed yet worn in the way that suggests to us that this guy is a little rough around the edges. It’s definitely an upgrade from the previous John Wick movie, where the facial hair situation was more like a sad beard of mourning one’s dead dog and admittedly looked a bit patchy. This time around, the beard is tight. It’s TOIGHT. John Wick’s beard is the kind of beard you could picture nuzzling into while also acknowledging that it would still look super immaculate if he was caught in the rain, with little droplets running down the hard line of his jaw and getting caught in those tiny, perfect hairs. Sorry, what were we talking about? - Carly Lane
John Cho, The Exorcist
Sometimes, it's not the size of the beard that matters. It's what you do with it. And John Cho is DOING IT. There is no bad John Cho. Clean-shaven John Cho: a gift. John Cho with facial hair: a gift with facial hair. And this tiny angelic beard that he sports on The Exorcist denotes concern. It denotes plaid button-downs and cardigan sweaters. It denotes a Ph.D. in psychology and a collection of very important books and literature, maybe a globe. Probably two globes, who knows? It's a beard that says, "I'm about the children." It's a beard that makes us say, "You are more than welcome to make children with me, John Cho."
I'm not gonna say that the beard makes the man, but I'm also not not gonna say that. In Dan Stevens' case, the beard certainly makes the man exponentially more attractive. At the end of Beauty and the Beast, the curse is broken and the furry, strangely attractive buffalo man turns into Prince Adam, a pretty much hairless Dan Stevens. The effect is ... weird. There was just something wrong with his face. That thing was, really, that there was just too much of it visible. Even Belle herself tells her new prince that he should, perhaps, grow a beard. Luckily, he took her advice and showed up to the film's red-carpet premiere sporting a full face and our lustful affections. Can a beard be magic? - Tricia Ennis
Tormund Giantsbane, Game of Thrones
If there exists a better beard in this world, we can't and won't imagine it. Tormund's beard might as well be the only beard, with all other beards merely allowed to exist courtesy of this Queen Bee-ard. Tormund's beard, like Tormund himself, is wild and untamed, but soft and gentle. It is a prize, it is a statement. It says, "This is me. I wear my beard and my beard wears me, because we are in this together as a partnership." And, not to get indelicate, but it's a far better throne than that tacky iron thing. Get it, Brienne.
We all fell in love with Chris Pine this year for his portrayal of the boyishly handsome —and clean-shaven—Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman, but what we didn't realize was that underneath that dashing exterior lurked magical, beard-growing follicles that would produce a magnificent face mane. Pine's beard is thick and luxurious and just the right amount of salt and pepper to make him look distinguished, but not homeless. It's the kind of beard you want to run your fingers through in a way that's just this side of creepy and it might be one of the many reasons we're excited for A Wrinkle in Time in a couple months. - Tricia Ennis
Frank Castle/Pete Castiglione in The Punisher
While assuming his alter ego Pete Castiglione, a construction worker who keeps his head down, Frank Castle grows one BAMF beard in The Punisher spin-off. He also happens to grow out his hair, which results in a whole gaggle of people telling him he looks like a hipster. Spoiler alert: The Punisher is not fond of the comparison. We love his luscious dark brown (black?) beard that commands respect and makes him look a lot less, well, maniacal. His sexy beard also allows him to blend into the woodwork, which he takes advantage of by posing as a homeless person. (Not cool, Frank. Not cool.) When Frank decides to return to vigilantism, he shaves off his beard and a little part of our souls dies. The Punisher may not be down with being a hipster, but we wouldn't mind wearing glasses four sizes too big while walking around Brooklyn with bearded Pete Castiglione on our arm. - S.E. Fleenor
Captain America in the Avengers: Infinity War trailer
If Chris Evans in the Infinity War trailer was a 1994 smash album by TLC he would be called SexyBeardySad. It is a GOOD beard. It denotes sadness and seriousness and ready for business-ness and it broke the whole entire internet. For one day, we as a nation, as a planet, united together in celebration of this beard, growing out of this face. Our clean-cut hero has gone full lumbersexual and we were here for every hair on that chin. We want to live inside that beard and help fight Thanos, swinging from every beard bristle like a vine and kicking the guy in his infinity stone rings. It might not help much, but what a way to go.
Han Solo, Star Wars Battlefront II
When Battlefront II was released, fans were excited about the opportunity to get to see (and play as) a few of their old faves -- but some of us were more psyched about finding out what Luke, Leia, and Han have been up to in the wake of Return of the Jedi. The space twins are still doing their thing in the service of the Rebellion, but Han has decided to go back to his nefarious smuggling ways—and now he’s grown a beard. It’s hard to tell if this is a pre-dad beard or a no-f*cks-left beard, but either way it’s pretty impressive. Some people might tell you that Han’s Battlefront II beard is terrible. Those people would be wrong. Sure, it doesn’t make him look nearly as tough as he probably thinks it does, but that’s because Han Solo is secretly a soft boy. Everyone knows that. We love soft boy Han and his soft boy beard. - Carly Lane
Luke Cage (Mike Colter), The Defenders
In the at-times out-of-control, lost world of our Defenders, Luke Cage maintains total, perfect management of at least one amazing thing. This meticulous, manicured beard is a beard that says control and power and "F*ck you and your puny Abercrombie beard, Danny Rand." And Mike Colter KNOWS IT. He trims and shaves it himself, saying, "It gives me something to groom since I am bald-headed." It is like his facial zen garden and we LOVE IT. Thank you for your commitment to excellent beardery, Mike Colter.
Logan (Hugh Jackman)
Hugh Jackman has three modes: dashing, well-groomed gentleman (The Greatest Showman, Kate & Leopold), serious and anguished (The Fountain, Les Mis), and Wolverine. This year, though, he perfectly blended those last two to create a mature, brooding, bearded tragic hero. The man has had a beard before, but it's always been the clean-shaven version that captured my attention ... until Logan. Clean-shaven Jackman can sell you crappy butter and seduce Meg Ryan with his accent, but Logan—that is a beast unto itself. Logan's beard goes on a journey right along with the character, seeming sad and tired and aged at first. But, as it spends more time in the sunlight with this violent child, it becomes almost dad-like? This is a beard who will help raise your children. This beard is protective and strong and yes, a little bit sad and broken. This beard would not disrespect you. It cares about your interests and wants you to have the best things in life. It's also got a little dried blood in it, so maybe just overlook that part. - Tricia Ennis
Hopper (David Harbour), Stranger Things 2
Yes this was just an excuse for this gif. But seriously, it's a good beard.
Honorable mention: Henry Cavill's pornstache
What started as a contractual obligation became a phenomenon. Henry Cavill, of DCEU Superman and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. fame, was required to grow a classic Tom Selleck-style 'stache for his role in the upcoming Mission: Impossible 6. Yet what could have been a bit tragic-looking turned Cavill into a new man, and believe us, we greatly appreciated it. Never before has Cavill looked so charming, and he loves that lip caterpillar more than anything else. Hell, he seems prouder of it than any of his acting work. Not that we blame him. Beards are one thing, but it takes a special kind of hero to make a pornstache the accessory of the year. - Kayleigh Donaldson
Dishonorable mention: This CGI abomination in Justice League
Look, we get why it had to be done, and we're kind of in awe that Paramount was so gloriously petty as to contractually ensure Cavill keep the 'stache, even during Justice League reshoots, but the impossible-to-ignore absence of that fine moustache offered one of the most bizarre cinematic experiences of the year. CGI Cavill's face was somewhere between the villain from Lazytown and the latest creation from Aardman Animation. It didn't just impede our abilities to watch Justice League; it removed a damn cultural institution from a much-prized face. Next time, DC, just let him keep the mustache. Superman could use the style. - Kayleigh Donaldson