I was never the sort of teenager who had posters of film stars on her wall. I associated big-screen heart-throbs with my mum and her mates drooling over Paul Newman and Robert Redford and far preferred the whiff of Panstik and perversion emanating from the pop stars of the day – your Bowies, Bolans and Bryans.
But now that the big pop stars are unappetising items such as Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, understandably girls look to film stars to provide a bit of eye candy.
The youngsters seem to go for people who are called either Chris, Hemsworth or both, but to those of us in our early dotage, the last poster boys we could pick out of a police line-up would be Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. Now they're starring together in the new Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, so I asked myself the intellectually challenging question we'd have mooted at the dear dead Modern Review – "Who's hotter: Brad or Leo?"
They have a lot in common. Being male, Pitt at 55 and DiCaprio at 44 still have much mileage on them as romantic leads. Brad is always himself, which means he is the better star, but DiCaprio has the broader range – from What's Eating Gilbert Grape to The Wolf of Wall Street, he has turned in some astonishing work – making him the better actor.
They both have very highly developed and very visible social consciences; DiCaprio established a non-profit foundation devoted to promoting environmental awareness when he was only 24 and donated $1 million to the Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund two years ago.
Pitt also has a long and honourable history of putting his moolah where his mush is, founding his own non-profit humanitarian charity in 2006 – with Angelina Jolie – which gave $1 million to Doctors Without Borders. No one likes a virtue-signaller, but when rich people actually dip into their own pockets and routinely pull out millions for good causes – as they do frequently in the US, but rarely seem to do in our own allegedly less selfish country – it's hard to have a go at them.
Few things are sexier than generosity and both have lived full private lives, often in public. It's attractive that Brad doesn't have a type – counting Sinitta and Gwyneth Paltrow among his girlfriends, he married twice, bouncing straight from America's Sweetheart to a smirking vamp with a penchant for collecting blood and snogging her brother.
He's obviously G.I.B; early in their alliance, Brangelina made such a racket while romping in their room at an African beach resort that armed guards – believing that wild animals were attacking the stellar pair – were about to knock the door down when it all went quiet and Pitt reportedly drawled: "Everything is cool, guys. We're OK!"
DiCaprio, on the other hand, is an enthusiastic "modeliser"; this may make him shallow – though who can judge unless they've actually had the chance to help themselves from such a superior sexual smorgasbord and turned it down?
In 2005, DiCaprio's face was severely injured when model Aretha Wilson hit him over the head with a broken bottle at a Hollywood party, so even modelising isn't all fun and games. Some people think a middle-aged man who's never been married is a Peter Pan – but on the plus side, he doesn't have any baggage, except the Armani sort, one of his many endorsements.
They have both appeared in commercials for many luxury brands, which seems at odds with their concern for the environment and can also be cringeworthy. A friend commented: "I just feel embarrassed when I see Brad now after that advert where he had the dreadlocks – it was like something out of Viz."
DiCaprio is never embarrassing, and the fact he is an unrepentant modeliser makes his jet-set status symbols endorsements somehow less hypocritical; he seems to know himself more, despite being a decade younger.
Both Pitt and DiCaprio seem very keen on their mums, often showing up on the red carpet with them – but though their mothers may love them, social media is a savage beast. When I put up the poster for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it drew some choice remarks: Pitt "looks like Henry Winkler" and is "turning into Jennifer" and DiCaprio "looks like a sprout, with all the features rushing for the centre" and "is becoming Norman Lamont" while the pair of them together resemble "Chevy Chase and a young Roy Kinnear" and (my favourite) "Brad looks like Will Ferrell, Leo looks like a bouncer at a provincial nightclub called Khlymydya".
Still, looks aren't everything. I don't know any models so I couldn't get any inside stuff on DiCaprio, but I know three girls who have spent time (not sexy time!) with Pitt and they all reported that he was great fun – witty, gossipy and "smells lovely – I think it was Silver Mountain Water by Creed".
Perversely, DiCaprio's enigmatic angle makes me prefer him. A star is half what we see and half what we imagine; we have to be invested enough to make things up about them – to imagine that, if we met them, we would understand them. When I think of film stars I feel like this about, I think of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift. And somehow these have lasted in our imaginations and on our walls, their flames never fading.
Will anyone be putting posters of Pitt and DiCaprio on their walls half a century after their deaths? As in my teens, I'm still not keen on actors – and at 60, the idea of fancying someone I don't actually know generally seems rather sad.
But if I had to bet on who goes down in the Hollywood Hall of Fame as a legend – as opposed to an amiable pin-up – my money would be on DiCaprio.