Cumberbatch beat Tom Hiddleston, who played Loki in Marvel’s Avengers, new Superman Henry Cavill and American actor Ryan Gosling in the online survey of more than 50,000 film fans.
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While the list of men was full of British talent, Watson was the sole British woman in the top ten, though Keira Knightley (17), Kate Beckinsale (19), Gemma Arterton (20) and Emily Blunt (21) all enjoyed respectable finishes.
Cumberbatch, who has a strong online following, found some humour in the poll results.
"It puts a bit of a spring in your step," he said. "It's nice, you swagger a little bit, it's enjoyable. I've punched well above my weight this year... I find it hysterically funny... It's a giggle. I wield it with a massive smile."
The actor finished well above James Bond star Daniel Craig (24), Tom Hardy (17), Johnny Depp (13) and perennial favourite Brad Pitt (19). Eighties and Nineties favourite Tom Cruise sneaked into the top 50 at 47.
Empire's digital editor James Dyer said: "It's a great result for British stars... This list also reflects the continuing popularity of superhero movies: six of the top ten men have played superheroes and five of the top ten women have appeared in comic-book movies.
Top Ten Sexiest Male Movie Stars:
1. Benedict Cumberbatch
2. Tom Hiddleston
3. Henry Cavill
4. Ryan Gosling
5. Robert Downey Jr.
6. Chris Hemsworth
7. Robert Pattinson
8. Michael Fassbender
9. Hugh Jackman
10. Bradley Cooper
Top Ten Sexiest Female Movie stars:
1. Emma Watson
2. Scarlett Johansson
3. Jennifer Lawrence
4. Kristen Stewart
5. Anne Hathaway
6. Emma Stone
7. Mila Kunis
8. Natalie Portman
9. Angelina Jolie
10. Zoe Saldana
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