15 April 2009

Top 10 Favorite Film Characters

Saw this meme going around some film blogs and thought I'd join in on the fun. As much as I'd like to avoid lists in place of actual posts I can't help myself every now and then.

1. John McCabe of McCabe & Mrs. Miller

"I've got poetry in me. I do. I've got poetry in me. I ain't going to put it down on paper. I ain't no educated man. I got sense enough not to try it."

Warren Beatty is a pleasure to watch and every wince, every smile, speaks volumes -- even when we can't hear a goddamn thing he says. It's his inability to say what he really feels/thinks that has me empathize more than anything else.

2. Norman Bates of Psycho

"I think I must have one of those faces you can't help believing."

Certainly the most sympathetic killer I've ever come across on the screen. I somehow relate to his stuttering, conflicted, and mild-mannered ways -- but not the whole killing/mommy-complex thing. And Anthony Perkins is probably the closest I'll get to having a screen star doppelganger.

3. GTO of Two-Lane Blacktop

"If I'm not grounded pretty soon, I'm gonna go into orbit."

Every bit of GTO's vanity -- his v-neck sweaters, his gloves, his loafers -- covers up an incredible loneliness that is made all-too clear in his toothy smile. He just wants to be loved.

4. Sanjuro of Yojimbo/Sanjuro

[family he has just saved is crying with gratitude] "Stop. Stop crying. It’s pathetic." [they keep crying] "I hate pathetic people. I'll have to kill you."

Sanjuro is the ultimate badass -- the Japanese (and original) Man With No Name. His cynicism and hostility, however, merely surround his humanist core and a desire for justice. And Toshiro Mifune is tops for me.

5. Jef Costello of Le Samourai

"I never lose. Never really."

The definition of cool for me. I wish I could pull off a trench coat and fedora like Alain Delon.

6. Guido of 8 1/2

"The truth is: I do not know... I seek... I have not yet found. Only with this in mind can I feel alive and look at you without shame."

Guido comes off as arrogant, vain, and self-indulgent (and he probably is), but he is ultimately in constant search for something genuine, for a life without contradictions. And he does it all with such charm and stlye.

7. Daniel Plainview of There Will Be Blood

"There are times when I look at people and I see nothing worth liking. I want to earn enough money that I can get away from everyone."

Maybe a bit of an obvious choice, but I am never tired of seeing this character on screen. Chinatown's Noah Cross was going to make this list, but I thought having both might be redundant.

8. Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver

"Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man..."

Travis is someone who I always feel like I am on the verge of understanding and empathizing with, but who always takes things a step further than I can keep up with. This keeps him constantly interesting.

9. C.C. Baxter of The Apartment

"Ya know, I used to live like Robinson Crusoe; I mean, shipwrecked among 8 million people. And then one day I saw a footprint in the sand, and there you were."

Who doesn't love CC Baxter? Our loser hero; the one who never really gets things his way; the one suffering pain and loneliness with a smile; the one always on the verge of giving up; the one with the key everyone wants but that doesn't do him any good; the one that taught us nice guys finish last.

10. Eli Cash of The Royal Tenenbaums

"Please stop belittling me."

Eli Cash is representative of all the fantastic characters Owen Wilson plays in Wes Anderson's films -- lonely men suffering identity crises who go after things they can't have. They are also incredibly funny.

There we have it. Kind of funny/sad/creepy to find the characters I am drawn to are either psychotic (Bates, Bickle, Plainview), contract killers (Sanjuro, Costello), vain (McCabe, GTO, Guido, Cash), repressed (McCabe, Bates, GTO, Plainview, Bickle, Cash) or just plain lonely (all of the above). Also, I seem to be drawn to men who wear hats (Mccabe, Costello, Plainview, Baxter, Cash), but I think that may just be coincidence.

Who are your favorites?


Solomon said...

such manly movies -- the ones i've seen at least.

T-time said...

Travis Bickle is the classic New York superhero in the real world

Clopsybot said...

this list is just lovely.

"please stop belittling me." is one of my favorite lines of the movie, along with "well I want to die."

Matt said...

Cool that you chose a Warren Oates character. My favorite character Warren Oates played is Bennie from the Sam Peckinpah film Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. His mannerisms were based on Sam Peckinpah himself, not to mention it is an outstanding film. This is quite a manly list like Solomon said. No females allowed.

Clopsybot said...

In Le Samourai, does Costello have something that represents what a katana meant to a samurai?