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)

django-unchained

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 Antiheroes

This will honestly end up being one of the most fun lists I’ll ever get to make. Antiheroes make for some of the best movie characters ever, plain and simple. It was some what of a blast to look back over all the movies I love and realize just how interesting some of the characters are. It was intriguing to look through movies and actually decide for myself whether a character is an antihero. This is a list my favorite protagonists in film that don’t fit the definition of you’re average hero.

I want to be clear though and say that not all of the characters on this list can be considered “bad”. An antihero doesn’t have to be evil, the character just can’t fit the bill of hero. While this was one of the most gratifying lists I’ve ever made, it was also one of the more difficult ones. There were, in fact, a few that just didn’t make the cut and I’d like to mention them. I almost had Antonio Saleri on the list, but he didn’t end up making it. Also, I juggled the idea of putting the scheming Jack Sparrow and the careless Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, but I unfortunately had no room for them. If I were to have an eleventh I would have to say Mark Zuckerberg because I just loved what Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher did with that character. I had to mention those honorably, but now let’s get into the actual list.

10. Charles Bronson (Bronson)

I am actually some what depressed that I was only able to give Michael “Charlie Bronson” Peterson the tenth slot in my list, but I unfortunately didn’t have the heart to make anyone lower. Tom Hardy gives a performance that other actors can only dream of giving as main character, Bronson. The character is dark, brutal, deranged and morbid, but not with out a sense of comedy from time to time.

9. Alex DeLarge (A Clockwork Orange)

Many might be surprised to find Alex DeLarge this low on a list of antiheroes. Where as, yes, Alex DeLarge can easily be considered the most evil of the characters on this list, I would not consider him my favorite antihero. This list, however, would not feel complete with out him. This is a character that could’ve easily been the antagonist of a movie. Instead, A Clockwork Orange examines a character filled with apathy and malevolence.

8. Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver)

This is another selection I’m sure most would be disappointed in, not because its on the list, but because it wouldn’t be surprising to see Travis Bickle in the #1 slot. I love Taxi Driver and Travis Bickle is an amazing character, but I had to decide on an order. Robert De Niro puts his all into his work and when he’s given a character as enthralling as Bickle, it’s hard to imagine that anything would go wrong and nothing did. Travis Bickle is an awesome antihero.

7. Mark Renton (Trainspotting)

Trainspotting is a grim, yet beautiful mosaic of life itself pieced together through the adventures of misfits. There are highs, there are lows and at the heart of the masterpiece is the development and study of protagonist, Mark Renton. Like most of his mates, Mark Renton is a junky. He is defined, at first, by his opening monologue, “I chose not to choose life. I chose something else and the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroine?” He may be getting off the stuff, he may be relapsing and he may be shooting a dog so it’ll attack its owner, but he’s always an awesome antihero.

6. Michael Corleone (The Godfather Part I+II)

Whether I’m discussing his dark character arc in The Godfather or Al Pacino’s masterful performance in The Godfather Part II, I’m still discussing one of the of the greatest characters in cinema and one hell of an antihero. Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone was a performance that could make one speechless, but for me it’s a performance that doesn’t even compare to what Pacino did with by far the best character in the story. It takes two movies, but Michael Corleone’s transformation from the most decent Corleone into the most despicable is nothing short of extraordinary.

5. Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Yes, I was just introduced to this character for the first time last year, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with every aspect that makes up Lisbeth Salander and there was never any hesitation as to whether I’d put her on this list. The titular girl with the dragon tattoo is relentlessly mesmerizing. She’s dark, she’s layered, she’s damaged, she’s desensitized, she can be brutal, she can be lovable, she can be kind, she can be insane and she is, as described in her first scene, “different”. Some may argue that Lisbeth isn’t an antihero, but I don’t think its in the repertoire of your average hero to set your father on fire or shove a metal rod into a man’s ass. She’s an antihero and one of the best.

4. Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction)

He is one of a handful of main characters in one of the greatest pieces of cinema ever created. He also happens to be the most compelling character of the film and the greatest antihero in a film full of great antiheroes. The well-spoken hit man, Jules Winnfield, is my favorite aspect of one of my favorite films and to keep him off this list would be a sin. The character of Jules is as enthralling as he is enjoyable. It’s a blast watching the way he works to interrogate his victims before blasting away and then later, it’s inspirational to watch his character arc come to fruition in one of my favorite scenes in film. Winnfield is unarguably one of the greatest antiheroes in film.

3. William Munny (Unforgiven)

“I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed just about everything that walks or crawls at sometime or another.” Through honesty, this is a quote that serves as a reminder of who we’ve been watching throughout the film, Unforgiven. This is the same character who never previously failed to attempt to convince himself and the people around him that he “ain’t like that no more”. William is the most honest, monogamous, and decent character in the film, yet by the end it’s realized he can also be considered the most cruel and despicable.

Unforgiven is the greatest western in existence and it has a lot to offer story-wise and thematically. It manages this through the study of a man thrust into a world of lust, violence and lawlessness. William Munny describes his character and the themes of the film with a single, simplistic line, “We all have it comin’, kid.” Unforgiven will always and forever be one of my favorite movies and it would be nothing with out its profound protagonist.

2. Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood)

It was unbearably difficult to make this list and one the most difficult aspects of its creation came from having to place Daniel Plainview in this slot when he could’ve easily been considered my favorite antihero in existence, but after much consideration I placed him here. There Will Be Blood offers up the greatest character study in film. It’s not only the greatest because it’s a flawlessly made film and the study of Plainview never fails to keep your interest, but also because, through beautiful writing and one of the greatest performances in all of film, in Daniel Plainview you find one of the most fascinating characters ever.

No other film, not Refn’s Bronson, not Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, not even Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, examines a character so mind-numbngly deranged and despicable and does so with so much flair. Paul Thomas Anderson is a master director, but it took a mix of him and the greatest actor of all time to create the monster that is Daniel Plainview. What can be said? The greed and hatred of Daniel Plainview is something you have to experience for yourself because like most masterpieces it’ll mean something different than what it meant for me.

1. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

Fight Club is simply one of my favorite films. That’s all there is to it and that’ll never change. Every ounce of me is madly in love with every minute detail that makes up the masterpiece that is Fight Club. What comes with a love for the film, Fight Club, is an unconditional love for the character, Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is one of my favorite cinematic characters in existence and he’s my favorite antihero in film.

Fight Club offers up a portrait of a generation that has “no great war or great depression”. This is a generation with nothing to be remembered for and once this realization comes to fruition the angst, anger and anarchy is driven by one man. He’s the epitome of cool, he knows what to say and when to say it and you listen because you know he’s right (“in Tyler we trusted”), he lets that which does not matter truly slide and he’s everything you wish you could be.

“It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.” It’s constant words of wisdom like this that make Tyler Durden the leader that is understandably followed and one of the most spectacular characters in film. There’s a lot to the idea of Tyler Durden and he’s something of a wonder that would take a while to establish, but what puts him at the top of my list is the epiphany by the end that there’s a Tyler Durden in all of us and that’s a fact that can’t be ignored. This very idea encapsulates why antiheroes are so fascinating. They aren’t usually black and white, antiheroes are the greys in between and Tyler Durden is the greatest in film.

#49 The Worst Toilet in Scotland Scene (Trainspotting)

This is one of the most messed up scenes in film history, funny how the scene is put into one of the most messed up movies in film history.’

Best Character: Mark Renton

Best Quote: “Under the circumstances, I’ll settle for anything”

Scene:

#43 Mark Renton (Trainspotting)

He’s the fast talkin, charmin, herione addict.

  • Actor: Ewan McGregor
  • Quote: “I Chose not to choose life.
  • Action: Has a shot of herione after being sober for a few months in order to test the herione their going to sell.
  • Clip(s):