Written by Daniel Chadwick
It’s the age old debate – who is the best character to ever grace the silver screen. In my introduction to JumpCut UK, I will try to tackle this tricky question and offer some insight into the ultimate form of art. For every Han Solo, there is also an Atticus Finch, and this list tries to find the balance between the nerdy and the dramatic. So here we go…
10. Lou Bloom (Nightcrawler) – Jake Gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal is without a doubt one of the greatest actors of our time. It’s honestly a shock that the man only has one Oscar nomination, especially considering his turn in this underrated crime-noir masterpiece. In ‘Nightcrawler’, Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, an ambitious man who will do whatever it takes to find success in this crazy world. So he decides to become a nightcrawler; filming crimes and accidents, and delivering them to the local news station for a sweet fee. Gyllenhaal not only transformed drastically for the role, but completely captures the sociopathic tendencies of this character. He’s creepy, darkly funny and delivers the performance of his career. For us, he was much more deserving of an Oscar win than Eddie Redmayne, and worse still, he didn’t even get nominated for this performance.
9. Tony Stark AKA Iron-Man (Marvel Cinematic Universe) – Robert Downey Jr.
Iron-Man is pretty much the reason the Marvel Cinematic Universe exists and thrives today. This special character is the reason so many comic book movies have been made, and studios have taken risks on movies like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Deadpool’ have been made. This character also jump-started Robert Downey Jr.’s career. As Tony Stark, he’s suave, charming, funny and a lot of the time is the best part of any Marvel movie. We have a lot to thank Iron-Man for, and he definitely earns his spot in this top 10 movie characters of all time.
8. Mr. White (Reservoir Dogs) – Harvey Keitel
Quentin Tarantino writes so many instantly memorable characters, that the perpetual debate as to which is the best still rages on today. Some cite Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) from ‘Inglorious Basterds’, others might say The Bride from ‘Kill Bill’. But for me the one character that always stands out is Mr. White from Tarantino’s first (and in my opinion his best) film, ‘Reservoir Dogs’. Harvey Keitel portrays a cool, collected criminal and is by far the stand-out star of a movie filled with talent. Somehow he makes Tarantino’s script even better and that’s no mean feat. He’s one of the only Dogs that you connect to, considering most of them are sociopaths (or psychopaths) and his father-like love for Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange is visibly moving.
7. James Bond (Bond Series) – Sean Connery
People constantly argue about who the best James Bond is, with many millennials claiming that Daniel Craig’s Bond is the best, but that’s far from the truth. The man who brought Bond to life on the screen for the first time, Sean Connery, was the definitive Bond and is by far the most faithful adaptation of the ultimate spy. Bond was always supposed to be a little corny, and Connery embraced that completely. He had an abundance of fantastic one-liners – way before Arnold Schwarzenegger came along – and he completely captured the cool, suave characteristics of the greatest spy to ever grace the screen. Long live the one true Bond.
6. Han Solo (Star Wars Franchise) – Harrison Ford
Han Solo has slowly but surely become the epitome of ‘Star Wars’ nerdendom. Fans, whether they be nerds or just part of the mainstream audience, adore Harrison Ford’s iconic character, and the beloved character is one of the major factors in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ being so popular. He’s the ultimate hero, has quotes that are so memorable they are immortalised on posters and t-shirts the world over, and is just an all-round awesome movie character. If there’s one thing you can thank George Lucas for, besides bringing us ‘Star Wars’, it is creating this loveable rogue.
5. Sarah Connor (Terminator Franchise) – Linda Hamilton
Sarah Connor lives on in action folklore as one of the most kick-ass women to ever hit the big screen. James Cameron created a character that was not only good with a gun, but also interesting, layered and brave. There’s a lot of people who would not even consider fighting a Terminator on this list, but she is not one of them, that’s for sure. Forget ‘Terminator Genysis’, if you want the real Sarah Connor go no further than Linda Hamilton in the first two ‘Terminator’ movies.
4. The Joker (The Dark Knight) – Heath Ledger
With Jared Leto starring in ‘Suicide Squad’ as the Joker, it’s inevitable that everyone is talking about how he’ll compare to Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson. I’m going to come out and say the honest truth that we are all thinking – no one will ever come close to Ledger. His bloody, crazy performance as the Joker will never be topped ,and I stand by that fully. He may be a full-on psychopath, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a seriously cool depiction of the most infamous comic book villain. Ledger completely transforms in the role in a way that I’ve never seen before on film (and I doubt I will ever see again). Rest in peace Heath Ledger, because you will be remembered for decades to come.
3. Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones Franchise) – Harrison Ford
There are probably some of you in shock right now, wondering how Indy is not sitting pretty at number one on the list. ‘Indiana Jones’ is one of the best adventure stories out there, and the leading man would easily have been number one on the list if it hadn’t been for the pretty average ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’. Indy is smooth with the ladies, knows how to use his whip and beats Nazis like it’s nobodies business. Here’s hoping for a brilliant ‘Indiana Jones 5’.
2. Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit Trilogies) – Ian McKellen
It was always going to be hard to find an actor who could live up to the greatness of Gandalf in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ adaptations. But in Sir Ian McKellen, they found a brilliant Gandalf and someone who did so well with the character that he got an Oscar nomination for his portrayal. This wizard is as mysterious as he is awesome, and McKellen translates that perfectly. He’s also brilliant in ‘The Hobbit’ series, even though those movies were not close to the brilliance of ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
1. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) – Gregory Peck
The great Gregory Peck played many brilliant characters throughout his legendary career, but none as effective and brilliant as Atticus Finch, a man who fought for what was right, even when it meant going against the norm. This character is firm, righteous and has so many memorable monologues that it’s hard to keep track. It’s unbelievable to think that Peck’s performance made Finch even better in the movie than he was in the book; a worthy winner for me.
Honourable mentions have to be given to Neo (Keanu Reeves) in ‘The Matrix’ and Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) in ‘American Psycho’; close, but no cigar guys. What do you think of my list? If you think I missed anyone out, or just want to congratulate me on a job well done, find me on Twitter @GetReelMovies and let’s have a good ol’ debate.