Not really an actual ranked top 25 list (though I make a case for the “top” 10). Rather, this is just sort of a half-assed list of some of the more memorable and fun characters the silver screen has graced upon us over the past ten years. With so many great characters and roles to choose from, whittling this down to just 25 is damn near impossible (hence the cheating of a few honorable mentions at the bottom). Still, these names are hard to argue with; but if you’ve got a couple of characters we might’ve missed, by all means drop them into the comment section at your leisure. Remember though, these are great, memorable characters, not necessarily great, Oscar worthy performances.
25) V (V for Vendetta)
24) Ronnie J. McGorvey (Little Children)
23) Randy “The Ram” Robinson (The Wrestler)
22) Brick Top (Snatch)
21) Marv (Sin City)
20) Giselle (Enchanted)
19) Haley Stark (Hard Candy)
18) Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada)
17) Charlie/Donald Kaufman
16) Elvis Presley (Bubba Ho-Tep)
15) Bob, Dick, Barry (High Fidelity)
14) Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)
13) Royal Tenenbaum (The Royal Tenenbaums)
12) Barry Egan (Punch Drunk Love)
11) Juno (Juno)
10) Penny Lane (Kate Hudson)
One of the more interesting characters from one of the best films of the decade, Penny Lane is sort of every hippie-fangirl dream. She gets to travel with all the popular bands, dates a guitarist and seems to be the most carefree person on the planet. Yet she’s completely shrouded in mystery and intrigue. We don’t even ever get to find out her real name. The original “band-aid” is Kate Hudson’s only great role/performance to date (NINE is still on the horizon) and it’s a character that is the glue that holds together all of the other characters in Almost Famous.
9) King Kong (Andy Serkis)
A great character doesn’t necessarily have to be human; heck, it doesn’t even have to be a real creature. Mythical or not, King Kong is 100 tons of expressive emotion brought to life partly with staggeringly fantastic CGI and partly with the amazing abilities of Andy Serkis. The way Kong plays off of Naomi Watts is incredibly engaging and heartfelt (maybe that says something great about Watts as well) and the look is totally photo realistic. And he still has, in my opinion, the best fight scene/action sequence of the decade.
8 ) Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day-Lewis)
Can’t have a top 10 list without Daniel Day-Lewis in here somewhere. Some would argue for Daniel Plainview (There will Be Blood), but Bill the Butcher is so much more interesting and showy without being ridiculous. Yet at the same time the intensity and insanity leveled straight at the screen (and the hundreds he slaughters) is practically unmatched.
7) Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney)
Probably George Clooney’s finest moment to date. Agreed that The Coens give him a lot more to work with than most screen writers and directors, but it’s Clooney who makes Everett come to life. With his high brow, know-it-all attitude and definitely not an uneducated man, he still finds a way to be bumbling yet clever and goofy but suave. Just look at that face and the expressions that go with them. Priceless.
6) Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp)
From the moment Capt. Jack nonchalantly steps off his sinking boat into port and swaggers up the dock looking for a pint, we’re all instantly in love with Sparrow. He has a drunken suaveness to his gait and his mannerisms that can’t help but put a smile on your face and wit to his tongue that evokes joy on every screening.
5) Napolean Dynamite (Jon Heder)
Did you know someone at least sort of like this in high school? I bet you did; which makes Jon Heder’s Napolean Dynamite all the more funny – he’s relatable. The situations he’s put in aren’t really all that odd or fantastic; he simply takes a normal situation and makes it hysterically uncomfortable that few characters could ever do.
4) Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale)
The business card scene. The musical artist and album review monologues. The obsession with dinner reservations. The pure dancing joy in the preparation before axing someone in the face. End of discussion.
3) Entire cast from Best in Show
Impossible to choose a best character from this movie. Sure everyone has their favorite, but I bet that favorite wavers from viewing to viewing. And when we say entire cast, we mean that almost literally. From the hotel desk clerk to Parker posey to Fred Willard to the old guy who doesn’t even say anything. Comedy gold through and through.
2) Joker (Heath Ledger)
Ledger ends his short-lived career with a real whopper. Easily one of the most iconic villains of all time is brought to an unflinching, carefree evilness, but still managing to keep that warped sense of humor intact. The Dark Knight is a good action, super hero movie (arguably the best ever); but take Ledger out of the role and you’re left with very little to truly cheer about.
1) Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem)
If The Joker is an iconic villain simply for his long life and well known facial features, Anton Chigurh became an icon overnight due to the normally attractive Javier Bardem transforming himself into sheer creepy. Tack on the fact that it’s a brilliant Coen Brothers script and it’s a character for the decade. The haircut alone would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that if you meet Chigurh, that haircut is probably the last thing you will ever see.
– - honorable mentions: Wall-e (Wall-e), Don Logan (Sexy Beast), Kym (Rachel Getting Married), John Oldman (The Man from Earth), Ashley Johnson (Junebug), Harry Lockhart/Gay Perry (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang), Peter Evans (Bug)