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)

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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.

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Top Ten Coen Characters

In the universe of the greatest directors known to man, The Coen Brothers, there’s always a lot going on. Most of it unorthodox and all of it enjoyable. These feats are made possible through the amazing characters they develop or sometimes just randomly throw in there for a bit of fun.

In each Coen film there’s always some type of entertainment that can be brought from almost every character. Maybe its because of his/her sick and twisted humor they crack at random moments, maybe its because of their affection and kindness towards even the rudest person, or maybe its because their penchant for laziness. Either way, there’s so many different ones to choose from, these are my favorites.

10. Loren Visser (Blood Simple)

Out of the Coen Brothers first movie comes one of the sleaziest dirt bags known to film, Loren Visser. Everything he does is unethical and everything he says is made somehow disturbing. There’s not much he won’t do to bring in a quick buck. He’s the ultimate dirt ball you’d absolutely never want to meet. Not to mention he has one of the greatest maniacal laughs ever put on screen.

9. Chad Feldheimer (Burn After Reading)

Chad is down right stupid and dimwitted. If you really look at his dialogue, your kind of wondering why anyone would find it funny because its almost too forced. Brad Pitt plays it to perfection and I am in stitches every single time he’s on screen. You really couldn’t see it played any other way after seeing Mr. Pitt do it so hilariously. I love Feldheimer to death by the end of it all.

8. Mattie Ross (True Grit)

The quick-witted and persistent 14-year-old who drives the plot of the Coen Bros. masterfully made western is an unquestionable candidate for this list. She’s young but at the same time smart and she’ll stop at nothing to see the avenging of her father through. A truly entertaining character that you can’t stop feeling for based on the way the character is perfectly performed and what the character’s endgame is.

7. Leonard Smalls (Raising Arizona)

Even though I love the Coen Brothers and find basically everthing they make a masterpiece in one way or another, I’m actually not a huge fan of Raising Arizona. Its not that I don’t like the movie, it’s that I don’t believe it stacks up to their other films. I can not, however, deny my love for the motorcyclist from hell, Leonard Smalls. You don’t get to see him much in the film, but when you do, your eyes are wide with appeal, at least mine are.

6. Marge Gunderson (Fargo)

Among a lot of terrible people in the world of the Coen Brothers, Marge Gunderson is by far the most kind hearted. She makes it her duty to not only protect and serve (she’s a pregnant police officer), but to also be incredibly sweet whenever she can, even if its towards someone she knows doesn’t deserve it. Marge has a great husband, a child on the way and an important job she’s committed to. This is Frances McDormand at her best, one of the greatest female performances I’ve seen. Period.

5. Walter Sobchak (The Big Lebowski)

The Dude is of course iconic and one of the greatest characters in film, but not all of the laughs come from Jeff Bridges. John Goodman’s character is definitely a huge part of the puzzle piece. Honestly, every action, every facial gesture, every word he utters or shouts at the top of his lungs, I’m usually laughing uncontrollably or at least chuckling. The vietnam vet Walter Sobchak makes every scene he’s involved in memorable, to say the least.

4. Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn (True Grit)

Rooster Cogburn is such a fascinating character to watch develop. At times he’s dark due, in part, to a checkered past, while at other times we know far well that this is the hero of the story. Also, he never fails to draw out a chuckle from time to time. A unique and interesting character in every sense. Jeff Bridges puts every ounce of performance he’s got into Rooster and the result is one of the greatest western heros that a lover of films can ask for.

3. Charlie Meadows (Barton Fink)

It’s hard to top Walter Sobchak and Rooster Cogburn, but Goodman is able to do it with his portrayal as Fink’s hotel neighbor, Charlie Meadows. Charlie has such an unbearable presence in each scene. You just can’t wait until he pops in for a chat the next time. He’s the epitome of the classic neighbor whom you just love sitting back and talking with. Then the character turns in a completely different direction and John Goodman plays it to absolute perfection.

2. Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (The Big Lebowski)

The Dude is quite possibly the most iconic character The Coen Brothers will ever create. That’s surprising because he doesn’t do much at all. He’s usually just smoking weed, bowling or drinking a white russian. It’s difficult for me to put The Dude at number two because most would have put him at number one. I absolutely love The Dude. The Big Lebowski, the funniest movie of all time, is centered around him and his laziness. The plot is driven by the insane events going on around him and even more so, his insane friends. But no matter what happens you can always expect The Dude to just sit back and ride along. “Fuck it” he might say, but I think he puts it best when he says “The Dude abides”.

1. Anton Chigurh (No Country For Old Men)

By far one of the greatest villains and characters ever put on screen is Anton Chigurh. And he wouldn’t seem as evil if it weren’t for the perfect concoction. I’m speaking of course of the of the original writing by Cormac McCarthy, transfered to the screen by the two of the greatest writers working in film, directed by the aforementioned writers and performed to absolute perfection by Javier Bardem. Through these ingredients, we get one of the darkest presences ever put on screen. What we get is a confident and intelligent killer basically representing death itself. Killing is routine for him, almost to the point of being an art form. The modern day movie villain that lies at the heart of their greatest feat in film is with out a doubt the Coen Brothers’ greatest character.

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