The 20 Best Movie Characters of the Last 20 Years

الثلاثاء، 28 مايو، 2013

I'm 31 years old. I'm a "movie buff" (it feels so great to call yourself a "buff," really). If I were to pinpoint the time when I went from just being a kid who watched movies to being one who fell in love with them (awww), I'd probably say sometime right around 1990. Unfortunately, doing a list of "The 18 Best Movie Characters of the Last 18 Years" just doesn't have the same cache or ring that "20" does. Besides, there was nothing good in movies in between 1988 and 1990, right? (Kidding.)

I have to say that this was one of the toughest lists to come up with - or rather, narrow down. The process was rather unscientific - as I said previously, it's tough to quantify what makes the best characters. Is it the most memorable? Most quotable? Durable? In this case, I think the best answer is the easiest one; when the phrase "best character" is said, who pops into your head? There are some things I took into account, deducting points (mentally) to characters whose source material came before the film (though, as you'll see, there are still plenty who made it) and all but, if not entirely, nixing characters who had appeared on film prior to 1988 (sorry, Indiana Jones). Though the first 8 or so were pretty easy to name, the final paring down was extremely difficult. As a result, I'm sure there will be many "Where's X?!?!" responses or the like, to which I say bring it on. Also, a big thank you to all the folks that sent along their input - it was a big, big help.

So, without further ado, and presented in no special order, The 20 Best Movie Characters of the Last 20 Years.

Character: Tyler Durden
Film: Fight Club
Year Released: 1999
Chief traits: Imaginary, Fearless
Trademark line: "The first rule of Fight Club is - you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is - you DO NOT talk about Fight Club."
Additional Comments: This one is pretty personal for me, as not only am I a fan of Mr. Pitt, but Fight Club is one of my all-time favorites. All biases aside though, what a killer character.

Character: Wolverine
Films: X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand
Years Released: 2000, 2003, 2006
Chief traits: Solitary, Adamantium-ish
Trademark line: "What do they call you? "Wheels"? This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Students."
Additional comments: Admittedly, he doesn't have the best lines, as evidenced above, but he hardly needs them. Sure, he's a comic book character, but they don't come much cooler than he, as he's probably been the most popular comic book character of the last 30 years (since the Spider-Man, Batman, Superman era). What's not to love?

Character: Trent Walker
Film: Swingers
Year Released: 1996
Chief traits: Bawdy, Boisterous
Trademark line: Too many to choose from. Though "you're money, baby" was certainly the most aped, I'm going with this one: "Yeah, man just kinda... you know, you got these claws and you're staring at these claws and your thinking to yourself, and with these claws you're thinking, "How am I supposed to kill this bunny, how am I supposed to kill this bunny?""
Additional comments: You probably couldn't even tell me what Trent's last name was before you read it; heck, I don't think I knew it, either. It's irrelevant, though, as any fan of the movie could tell you when they weren't busy spouting half the script off to you.

Character: The Joker
Film: Batman
Year Released: 1989
Chief traits: Pale, Insane
Trademark line: "Where does he get those wonderful toys?"
Additional comments: I alluded to a mystical time at which point I became serious about movies. Well, this movie is probably the one that's most responsible. The perfect comic book movie has not aged all that well, but Nicholson's performance as The Joker is priceless (sure, he played Jack Napier as well, but Napier isn't the appeal here). He gave menace a new name, and the matching of character to star was probably one of the best ever.

Character: Napoleon Dynamite
Film: Napoleon Dynamite
Year Released: 2004
Chief traits: Unselfconscious, Great Dancer
Trademark line: "Freakin' idiot!"
Additional comments: Love him or hate him, Napoleon is one of a kind. He has a fro. He wears moon boots. He runs like a girl. He can dance like nobody's business. Whatever you think of him, I doubt that Jared and Jerusha Hess (the film's writers) even were aware of what a unique, hilarious, stupid character they had created. What's more, his brother Kip is a terrific character unto himself, and just as easily could be featured in his own film. "Peath out."

Character: Darth Maul
Film: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Year Released: 1999
Chief traits: Silent, Deadly
Trademark line: "At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge." (his only line)
Additional comments: That George Lucas is a genius! He managed to create a terrific villain that, though he may not match Darth Vader, had people hyped to see that first prequel. And they loved him! And Lucas was smart enough to kill him off at the -- huh? George, you're killing me. Instead, we got Count Dookie for the latter two films. Nice going, nimrod. Darth Maul was the ultimate badass, and he deserved a longer spot in the limelight.

Character: Silent Bob
Films: Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II
Years Released: 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2006
Chief traits: Silent, Not Silent
Trademark line: " "
Additional comments: Probably not since the days of silent films has one man said so much by saying so little. Pairing with his hopped-up sidekick Jay (or is Bob the sidekick?), Silent Bob went from a quirky minor character in Kevin Smith's debut Clerks to the co-star of his own film, along the way spawning a franchise for Smith and Bob alike, including comic books, cartoons, and guest spots on crappy TV shows (Yes, Dear).

Character: Forrest Gump
Film: Forrest Gump
Year Released: 1994
Chief Traits: Good Runner, Uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time
Trademark line: "Life [is] like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
Additional comments: Who knew that a dullard (IQ in the 80s, if I recall) could captivate the nation, not to mention lead the way in the film capturing the Best Picture award (stealing it from Pulp Fiction, I might add)? The lead in Robert Zemeckis' opus was endearing, dumb, sweet, and full on one-liners, helping to spawn a restaurant chain of all things (Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.).

Character: Tracy Flick
Film: Election
Year Released: 1999
Chief traits: Ambitious, Unwavering
Trademark line: "It's like my mom says, "The weak are always trying to sabotage the strong.""
Additional comments: Though her inclusion on this list is most definitely warranted, when I was narrowing down the choices for this list and got to the really difficult part (choosing the last 4 or 5 from a list of 20 or so), I noticed that Tracy was the only female character on the list. She had to be on here. Whether the fault lies with me (and the other people who gave input) for failing to name any ladies amongst our "best characters" or with Hollywood for failing to write quality parts for women I will leave for you to decide. After pondering more, I can up with quite a few other potentials (Marge Gunderson, The Bride from Kill Bill, Juno), but it certainly was odd that, from a list of 80 or so characters that I started with, Tracy stood alone.

Character: Anton Chigurh
Film: No Country for Old Men
Year Released: 2007
Chief traits: Driven, Inhumanity
Trademark line: "Call it."
Additional comments: Simply scanning the memorable quotes from the movie and reading Anton's lines just about sent shivers. Suffice it to say that the Cormac McCarthy and the Coens crafted one of the all-time great villains, and though it's difficult to give perspective to a performance so fresh in our minds, it's hard not to believe that we'll be thinking the same thing in 20 years.



Character: Tyler Durden

Film: Fight Club
Year Released: 1999



Character: Wolverine
Films: X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand
Year Released: 2000, 2003, 2006


Character: Trent Walker
Film: Swingers
Year Released: 1996



Character: The Joker
Film: Batman
Year Released: 1989


Character: Napoleon Dynamite
Film: Napoleon Dynamite
Year Released: 2004


Character: Darth Maul
Film: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Year Released: 1999



Character: Silent Bob
Films: Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II
Years Released: 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2006


Character: Forrest Gump
Film: Forrest Gump
Year Released: 1994



Character: Tracy Flick
Film: Election
Year Released: 1999



Character: Anton Chigurh
Film: No Country for Old Men
Year Released: 2007



Character: Doc Holliday
Film: Tombstone
Year Released: 1993
Chief traits: Loyalty, Perseverance
Trademark line: "I'm your Huckleberry..."
Additional comments: If you read just the script, you might think that Doc Holliday was some sort of a pansy. He starts nearly every sentence with "Why [Wyatt or whomever]!" and often says "You're a daisy!" (or the alternate "You're no daisy!"). But this is all part of what makes him one of the most interesting characters (especially for a Western) in all of film - as portrayed, he was smarter and deadlier than most any around him.

Character: Captain Jack Sparrow
Films: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Years Released: 2003, 2006, 2007
Chief traits: Mischievous, Lucky
Trademark line: "Savvy?"
Additional comments: Part of what made the first Pirates movie special is how out-of-nowhere it was. How high could the expectations have been for a flick inspired by, of all things, a theme park ride, when even video games (presumably a better source material) can't even be turned into quality films? So imagine everyone's surprise when not only is the film great, but Johnny Depp (of all people) stars and turns in one of the best performances of his career, full of quirks and winks to the audience? One for the ages (though the shtick got old in the sequels - too much of a good thing and all...).

Character: Gollum/Smeagol
Films: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Years Released: 2002, 2003
Chief traits: One-track mind, Schizophrenic (or MPD, I'm not sure)
Trademark line: "My precious."
Additional comments: Before you LOTR nerds tell me that Gollum was in the first film, I know - but it was only for a few seconds and he never spoke, so that hardly counts. However, the little CGI guy was probably the most compelling (and sympathetic) character on screen for the second and third films, with his puppeteer Andy Serkis playing him (in a way) as 3 different characters (the split personality Gollum/Smeagol and as the real-life Smeagol that is shown in the intro for ROTK. The back-and-forth internal battles (Smeagol: Master is our friend! Gollum: You don't have any friends; nobody likes you!) would probably be sufficient on their own for entry here - they're that good.

Character: Max Fischer
Film: Rushmore
Year Released: 1996
Chief traits: Involved, In Love
Trademark line: "The secret, I don't know... I guess you've just gotta find something you love to do and then... do it for the rest of your life. For me, it's going to Rushmore."
Additional comments: One of the best written characters of all time, Max Fischer is not your typical high schooler ("Maybe I'm spending too much of my time starting up clubs and putting on plays. I should probably be trying harder to score chicks."). He's brilliant, involved, and loves his school so much that he neglects to, you know, study and get good grades, prompting his expulsion. He then decides to work in his father's shop as a barber. Oh, and he's in love with a Rushmore teacher (as is his millionaire friend) who lost a husband. A classic character and film.

Character: Hannibal Lecter
Film: The Silence of the Lambs
Year Released: 1991
Chief traits: Brilliant, Hungry
Trademark line: "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."
Additional comments: From a review by Stephen Greydanus of Decent Films Guide: "Lecter fascinates us because he embodies qualities that we associate with civilized, reasonable existence, yet he is murderously sociopathic. In our therapeutic age, he’s a shocking reminder that, beyond all psychobabble about "behavior modification" and the like, there remains the sheer reality of good and evil. The doctor is in: God help us all."

Character: Bill Lumbergh
Film: Office Space
Year Released: 1999
Chief traits: "All that is soulless and wrong," Humorless
Trademark line: "Yeaaahhhh..."
Additional comments: Of all the characters on this list, Lumbergh might be the least drawn out, but that doesn't make him any less memorable. As played by the vastly underrated veteran character actor Gary Cole (The Brady Bunch movies, Talladega Nights), Lumbergh is basically the boss from hell - incompetent, insensitive and highly paid.

Character: Jules Winfield
Film: Pulp Fiction
Year Released: 1994
Chief traits: Audible, Spiritual
Trademark line: "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."
Additional comments: Jules was a study of opposites. A killer on one hand, a bible-verse-quoting spiritual man on the other. Cool on one hand, wearing dorky surfer bum clothes on the other. The question is: was Jules the character that MADE Sam Jackson, or was it the other way around?

Character: Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski aka "Duder" aka "El Duderino" (if you're not into that whole brevity thing)
Film: The Big Lebowski
Year Released: 1996
Chief traits: Lazy, Unmotivated
Trademark line: "That rug really tied the room together."
Additional comments: F*ck it, Dude - let's go bowling. (Edited to add: it's also worth noting that about three more characters, at the least, could be considered for this list, especially Walter and "the" Jesus.)

Character: Ace Ventura
Film: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Ace Venture: When Nature Calls
Years Released: 1994, 1995
Chief traits: Animal lover, Odd
Trademark line: "Ree-hee-heeally?"
Additional comments: Though the second film was seen by most as, well, awful, the first caught Jim Carrey at the height of his powers, taking a truly bizarre character (a spazz, for lack of a better word) and not only making him hilarious, but likable as well. Shameless, ingenious, and more than willing to literally talk out of his ass, Ace is nothing if not memorable.

Character: Dr. Evil
Films: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers in: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Austin Powers in: Goldmember
Years Released: 1997, 1999, 2002
Chief traits: Eeeevil (Duh!), Defrosted
Trademark line: "I demand the sum... OF 1 MILLION DOLLARS."
Additional comments: Mike Myers took a totally unoriginal character (he is said to be a combination of Lorne Michaels and Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, amongst other Bond villains) and made him the standout star of the series, above even the titular Austin Powers (who was funny but essentially a one-note joke).

Finally, here are some honorable mentions, to those characters that juuuuust barely missed the cut:

* Amelie Poulain (Amelie)
* Austin Powers (the Austin Powers series)
* Don Logan (Sexy Beast)
* Edward Scissorhands (Edward Scissorhands)
* Garth Algar ( the Wayne's World series)
* Karl Childers (Sling Blade)
* Keyser Soze/Verbal Kint (The Usual Suspects)
* Lester Burnham (American Beauty)
* Raoul Duke (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)
* Shrek (the Shrek series)

ليست هناك تعليقات:

إرسال تعليق