Top Ten Movie Characters

It’s no wonder I’m making this list, how could I not? Movie characters are my bread and butter. I love movies and without the the heart and soul of a movie’s characters, a movie would be nothing. This is my list and homage made for the greatest characters in film. It was one of the hardest I’v ever felt the need to make. Awhile ago I made a Top 50 regarding this theme, but things have changed and I wanted to make a new and definitive “Top Ten Movie Characters” list. Before I get into it, here are the four lists I made prior that helped in the creation of this list…

And here we go…

10. Kikuchiyo (Seven Samurai)

SevenSamurai3

When I say Kikuchiyo I mean Kikuchiyo as he is my favorite of the seven samurai who, for nothing, band together to protect a helpless village of farmers from ruthless bandits. However, I think if any one of these seven brave and powerful warriors is mentioned you have to at least mention the rest and all their heroism. Each samurai is unique in their own way, but there’s a special oddity that is the seventh samurai. He’s a confident and savage warrior and like any other samurai he’s wandered and seen the world. Unlike many samurai he doesn’t wearily look at the world with tired eyes, he looks at the world and laughs because what else can you do?

9. Django (Django Unchained)

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In most westerns you’ll find mysterious or violent antiheroes, but in Quentin Tarantino spaghetti southern you’ll find one of the greatest heroes in film. Django is a freed slave who sets out with his new found friend, Dr. King Schultz, to rescue his love from an evil plantation owner. As his journey progresses, Django establishes himself as a mighty warrior, a mythical avenger against the savagery of slavery in this fairy tale of a western. Django is just the epitome of cool, a badass who you want to stand up and cheer for.

8. William Munny (Unforgiven)

William Munny is an old western legend. He’s a vicious and feared killer, but he “ain’t like that no more.” He’s a good man and a loyal husband and father. His days of blood and gun fights took place long ago, but a life so grisly is hard to escape. In a world ruled by lawlessness and violence how else is a once dead-eyed killer to react to the brutality of it all. There’s no room for good men in the desolate west.”We all have it com in’ kid.” Can a cold-hearted killer be a good man?

7. Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood)

“I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people.” There Will Be Blood examines the idea of the American nightmare and it does so through a character study of Daniel Plainview. Daniel Plainview is driven by greed, consumption and hatred. He’s a despicable basterd who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. What he wants more than anything is to be alone. It can never be denied that there are bad people in the world. There Will Be Blood tells a poetic and powerful story of one such man.

6. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

Tyler Durden is a symbol for anarachy. He’s in a constant battle with conformity and all that is normal. It has been cited that Heath Ledger’s Joker is chaos, but The Joker is evil through and through. Tyler Durden isn’t good or evil, he is the personification of chaos. He was born out of a bored generation, but he won’t be white collar slave.  There’s a Tyler Durden in all of us who every once and a while has an understandable need to fight against the grain. Anyone who tries to ignore that fact or impulse could just as easily go insane.

5. Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men)

No Country for Old Men is poetic magnum opus of morality and violence created by some of the greatest filmmakers to have ever graced the screen with art, the Coen Brothers. The villain of this blood-soaked tale could be looked at as death incarnate. Anton Chigurh is a heartless killer. He would sooner murder a person than hug them. He’s calm, he’s collected, he’s efficient, he’s disciplined, he’s intuitive, he’s soulless and he can’t be stopped. This theme of unrelenting malevolence is at the heart the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece.

4. Col. Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)

Col. Hans Landa, otherwise known as The Jew Hunter, is something far worse than a high ranking officer of the Third Reich. He’s crafty detective who is as wise as he is evil. He does the things he does for his own gain. He’s not a nazi officer because he believes Adolf Hitler’s poisonous lies. He’s efficient at hunting Jews because for the time being it’s in his best interest. Once the situation changes, the slimy basterd will do what he has to in order to insure his own survival even if that means the betrayal of his country. There’s a certain charm and eloquence to him, but at the same time he just oozes wickedness.

3. Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)

Bane is the most formidable opponent imaginable. He is the personification of despair to Batman’s hope in The Dark Knight Rises. The animosity that grows between these men is just breathtaking. “Let’s not stand on ceremony here, Mr. Wayne.” Bane understands their relationship before even the detective, Batman, does. They belong in the battlefield, not sharing pleasantries from across the room. One will triumph over the other and in the end, nothing will matter more to Bane than accomplishing that goal.

In order to feed the people of Gotham hope to “poison their souls”, Bane rebels for the oppressed and against corruption in Gotham. He’s a revolutionary tyrant, he’s his own General and he’s his own greatest soldier. His true agenda is the torture and destruction of Batman and everything he loves. In the end, we find that part of the beauty to Bane, as one of the greatest villains and characters ever created, is in the way that everything this monster of man has done has been for love.

2. Batman (The Dark Knight Legend)

The icon that is Batman is the greatest hero ever created in story and the realistic adaption of Batman in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Legend (or Trilogy if that tastes better going down) makes for one of the greatest characters of all time. In what is the greatest story ever told we watch as three tales unfold charting the growth of the greatest hero to have ever existed. Batman Begins is the perfect hero’s journey as we see exactly how a man became the hero, Batman. In The Dark Knight Batman must become the pure good to The Joker’s pure evil In The Dark Knight Rises, we see the solidification of a legend as a weathered Bruce Wayne must dawn the cape and cowl once again to triumph over utter despair. Batman is the greatest hero ever crafted in a story.

1. The Joker (The Dark Knight)

Movies would be nothing without villains. It could be argued more so that movies would be nothing without conflict, but villains are just conflict personified. I placed four movie villains on this list and they all made it into the top 5. I couldn’t help myself. Villains make for some of the best characters and the best villain and character in film can be found in The Dark Knight. The villain in The Dark Knight and the antithesis to Batman is The Joker.

The Joker is colorful while Batman is black, The Joker wears make up while Batman wears a mask, The Joker is killer while Batman is a savior,  The Joker is a villain while Batman is a hero, but most importantly The Joker is symbol for evil while Batman is a symbol for good. You’ll not find a character as purely evil as The Joker. Whereas Batman is good for the sake of being good, The Joker is evil for the sake of being evil.

The Joker is completely lacking in motives, plans and empathy. He’s just one of those rare men who “want to watch the world burn.” He is a twisted and sadistic force for malevolence who would literally die laughing for all that is evil. Due to a flawless utilization of the character by director Christopher Nolan and the greatest performance of all time (portrayed to perfection by the late-great Heath Ledger), The Dark Knight’s Joker is a legendary character that won’t soon be forgot. The Joker isn’t just the greatest character in movies, The Joker is the greatest character stories have ever had to offer.

Top Ten Movie Deaths

I pondered for a while about how to preface this list, but its pretty self-explanatory. Death is a pretty beautiful thing when it comes to cinema. There are deaths in film that, when due to great performances, direction and writing, you get unbearably powerful moments. This is a list of those deaths. This is a list dedicated to my favorite deaths in film because of their meaning and power, not necessarily the ones that are remembered in cinema history as classics, such as the shower scene in Psycho or King Kong falling off the Empire State Building. While those are amazing moments in film, they just didn’t affect me like the deaths in this list.

 

!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!

 

 

!!!IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ONE OF THE MOVIES LISTED, DON’T READ INTO IT!!!

 

 

!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!

 

10. John Doe (SE7EN)

There aren’t many moments that you can truly say, based on their content, leave you gasping for air. The death of the villain, John Doe, in SE7EN is undoubtedly one of those moments. We never see this character until the end of the movie, but nevertheless, we fear him. We get to know the detectives on the case and we keep guessing what the end could be. What we do get is fantastically dark and real. If you’re looking for a prime example of a villain winning, this is it.

9. Ra’s Al Ghul (Batman Begins)

The death of Bruce Wayne’s mentor and eventual enemy is an undeniably memorable one. What makes this death such a spectacular one is in the way that the wise leader of the league of shadows attempts to gain dignity from his death with the line “Have you finally learned to do what is necessary?” He’s trying to show that he’s actually taught the man known as Batman very well. Batman shows the true colors of both characters with his reply, “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you.”

8. Lester Burnhum (American Beauty)

What makes Lester Burnhum’s death so awesome isn’t the actual death itself. Lester’s death is made significant based on the events before and the magnificent final monologue of the movie. You find out right in the beginning that this character we’re being introduced to is going to die by the end. It’s not the “what” that we’re interested in because we know what’s going to happen, what we are concerned about are the “who” and the “why”. We get the answers we need and few things in film are as pleasing.

7. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

Fight Club is one of my favorite films in general so it was really a no-brainer when it came to putting the stunning death of one the greatest characters in film on this list. The relationship between the Narrator and Tyler Durden is one of the most special and interesting ever filmed. Throughout Fight Club we get to know these characters and know them well. By the end we know what has to happen and the death of the final scene which results in the death of Tyler Durden completely blows me away  every single time.

6. Frank (Once Upon a Time in the West)

It seems that because of Sergio Leone’s brilliant film, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, his other masterpiece, “Once Upon a Time in the West”, is often overlooked. I do slightly prefer “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, but there is one aspect of “Once Upon a Time in the West” that is better and that is in the black-hearted villain, Frank. He’s one of the most despicable villains ever filmed and there are few moments in film that are as satisfying as the realization of the extent of his wrath and his immediate death right afterwards. Truly breathtaking cinema.

5. Maximus Decimus Meridius (Gladiator)

At the heart of the epic film Gladiator is a tale of well-deserved revenge. We fall in love with the protagonist Maximus and we grow to hate the villainous basterd he’s aiming to kill. Now that begs the question, why wouldn’t I put the satisfying death of the villain Commodus on this list? The reason is because the more emotionally powerful death belongs to Maximus Decimus Meridius. Yes, Commodus needs to die and burn in hell, but now Maximus’ mission is complete. His death was necessary because now he can go live in peace with his son and daughter in the afterlife.

4. Little Bill Daggett (Unforgiven)

Unforgiven is a western centered on the two characters William Munny and Little Bill Daggett. Throughout this masterfully crafted film we learn the true natures of both characters and learn that the line between right and wrong isn’t always clear. Not till the very end of the film do the two characters finally meet and the better man is established. “I’ll see you in hell William Munny,” Little Bill says with pure honesty and hate in his eyes and before William Munny fires the final fatal bullet into Little Bill’s head, he replies with a sorrowful, “Yeah”. It’s one of those moments in film that make movies worth watching.

3. Roy Batty (Blade Runner)

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…” is the start of one of the greatest movie quotes ever put one screen and the beginning of the final words of the character Roy Batty. Blade Runner is a film that asks many of life’s big questions, but those questions don’t come to true and beautiful light until the final encounter between protagonist Rick Deckard and philosophical replicant Roy Batty. It’s the most powerful scenes in film.

First, Roy just toys with his advisory and when Rick tries to escape by hopping to another rooftop he isn’t able to make it and nearly dies. The true nature of the character Roy is shown when he is able to make the jump easily and save Rick, but not before he puts Deckard’s mission in life into perspective, with the line “Quite an experience to live in fear isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave. Then he utters his memorable final words and reaches the end of his time.

2. Col. Walter E. Kurtz (Apocalypse Now)

Apocalypse Now is, without a shred of doubt, a staple in the art of filmmaking. While, the death of Col. Walter E. Kurtz is a triumph all its own. The main character, Captain Willard, is sent on a mission deep into cambodia in order to find and terminate a renegade Colonel who has taken command over the locals. We are taken on a journey into the true meaning of madness and on the way our anticipation grows like Captain Willard and all we want to do is finally meet Col. Kurtz.

Because of a truly brilliant performance by Marlon Brando, every single line Kurtz utters is memorable and resonant. That goes especially for one of my favorite movie quotes, his powerful last words, “The horror, the horror.” On my first viewing of the film, right at that moment I thought to myself, “this is one of the greatest films ever made”. And it truly is. From the beginning, Apocalypse Now promises an amazing climax and gives you just that. It was difficult for me not to put this in the number one slot.

1. Bill (Kill Bill)

Look back at numbers 3 and 2 of this list and you’ll notice that they share something with number 1. All three movies have generally simple tales, sure like all great filmmakers they establish deeper meanings, but the structure is simple. Rick Deckard, a retired Blade Runner is sent on a mission to kill four replicants (androids) led by Roy Batty, Captain Benjamin Willard is sent into Cambodia to kill Col. Kurtz and Beatrix Kiddo is out for revenge against her former boss and lover Bill.

From the beginning, we know, if we are to be satisfied that is, that Roy Batty, Col. Kurtz and Bill will die. There are many examples of films where we know what might happen at the end, but we want to know how our hero will get there and how exactly they’ll do the deed, whether its Frodo throwing the ring of power into Mt. Doom or Batman saving Gotham from the evil clutches of the Joker. In this case, we’re talking about deaths in film and no death is as magnificent and significant as the death of Bill in the 4-hour-epic Kill Bill.

What makes Bill’s death profound, innovative and beautiful is the unconditional love shared between the two warriors. Their fight is inevitable and both, Bill and Beatrix, realize that one is going to die, while the other will live on, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t care for one another. And in the end, Bill isn’t stabbed or shot, no, that wouldn’t satisfy. Instead Beatrix perform’s something called the five point palm exploding heart technique, which makes your heart explode from the inside after you take five steps. This allows him to have a few words with the love of his life, take a deep breath, button his coat and walk with dignity to the greatest movie death in film history.

#27 Meeting Kurtz Scene (Apocalypse Now) !!!SPOILERS!!!

An incredible scene that the first two-hours of the movie builds up to. Its a great scene and you know it will eventually come and you’re not in any way disappointed.

Best Character: Col. Kurtz

Best Quote: “You’re neither, you’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks to collect a bill.”

Scene: