Wednesday, October 12, 2011

PiT Master Movie Character Countdown, Part 4

What?! Another update from me so soon? Crazy I know. Maybe I'm just back in the writing mood. Maybe I'm trying to avoid doing actual work. You may never know. Scientists will ponder this problem for years to come, but I doubt they will find any answer. Mostly because this is the lead researcher:

Anyways, this is going to be the fourth installment in the Countdown, and today we have the men's list, entries twenty through eleven. Without further ado, I'm pleased to present (in technicolor) the Master Movie Character Countdown Part 4.

20) Patrick Bateman - American Psycho (2000) - Christian Bale

"Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?"

-More so than anyone else on this list, Patrick Bateman is absolutely reprehensible. Take away all the murders and the mental problems, and you're left with a repugnant, greedy yuppie. He's self-centered to the point that he obsessively details out what he wears and how he prepares himself for the day and is overly concerned with status, constantly fretting over getting reservations at a hard-to-get-into restaurant and almost losing his marbles (if he had any left) over the seeming perfection of a coworker's business card. Out of all this, why does he make the list? It's his very unique worldview that put him at number twenty. He looks at the world the way an alien would look at the world. He's so removed from everything its like he's looking at exhibits in a zoo. He doesn't form any kind of connections to anyone else around him (except his secretary, Jean) and its almost like everything he does is testing humanity in some way. 

Bateman's best moment is when he gets Paul Allen drunk in his apartment for a little discussion about Eighties music.

19) Dug - Up! (2009) - Bob Peterson

"I was hiding under your porch because I love you."

-I can safely say that there has never been a better portrayal of a dog on screen than Dug. Loyal, faithful, and friendly, Dug represents what everyone's idea of a dog is. He's just a fun character and he steals the show every time he's on screen in the movie. His good cheer is juxtaposed perfectly by Carl's grouchy old man attitude. The dialogue he speaks is exactly what the director Pete Docter believes a dog would think, and if it weren't for this character being in the movie I'm certain Up! would not have done as well as it did.

Dug's best moment is his triumphant defeat of the sinister Alpha (also voiced by Peterson) by putting him in the "Cone of Shame."

18) Samwise Gamgee - The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) - Sean Astin

"Don't leave me here alone. Don't go where I can't follow"

-The chief characteristic of the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings is innocence. They aren't tainted by the greed and petty squabbling of the other races of Middle Earth and try and keep mostly to themselves. While Frodo is the main character of the whole saga, Sam is meant to be the main hero. He isn't adventurous, he doesn't want to travel, and he embodies all of that trademark innocence of the hobbits. Even though he's a simple fellow, what he does know is honesty and loyalty. He's so loyal and loving towards his best friend Frodo that he follows him (and physically carries him) into the wasteland of Mordor. You keep seeing Frodo struggle under the weight of the Ring, but in the background you always see Sam carrying all of their supplies. He does it without complaint and without questioning because he knows how hard things are for Frodo and takes it upon himself to ease his best friend's burden as best as he can. We would all be very fortunate to have friends like Sam. 

The crucial moment for Sam comes late in the saga when Frodo seemingly dies. I've never seen such sadness and despair on screen before. 

17) Randal Graves - Clerks (1994) - Jeff Anderson

"People say crazy shit during sex. One time I called this girl 'Mom.'"

-Randal's key attributes in the film are firstly, his apathy towards his job, and secondly, his verbose and artful profanity. It isn't that he hates his job. He just doesn't care. Randal is us. And by us I mean the twenty-somethings stuck in service industry jobs. Anyone who has ever gone through that can relate to Randal, and he doesn't apply to just one generation but to all. We all wish we could vocalize our frustrations in the quick, well-spoken way that Randal does.

Randal's defining moment is his calling out his best friend Dante on his mopey, woe-is-me attitude and puts him in his place. 

16) Roger "Verbal" Kint - The Usual Suspects (1995) - Kevin Spacey

"How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss?"

-Verbal is, for better or for worse, the main character of The Usual Suspects. He's a career criminal and one of the only survivors of a brutal attack on a drug shipment in a harbor and is brought in to the police station for questioning. He is the filter for the audience to follow the story as everything is told from his perspective. I had the unfortunate displeasure of having some of the surprises of this movie ruined for me by some inconsiderate people, and even though this movie's over fifteen years old I am going to hold off on talking too much about Verbal for fear of ruining a wonderful movie for you, dear readers. So just trust me that this is one you have to see and that Verbal deserves his number sixteen spot.

The best moment involving Verbal is his speech about Keyser Soze, saying "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist."

15) Norman Bates - Psycho (1960) - Anthony Perkins

"We all go a little mad sometimes."

-Not only is Norman one of the scariest movie characters of all time, but he's also one of the most iconic. For good reason too, as Perkins' performance is spot on. Right from the get go we know that something is fishy about Norman (who trusts a taxidermist?) but we can't quite put our finger on it. That's where the suspense comes from, because even though Norman is friendly, quiet, and good-looking there's always something scratching at the back of your mind about him.

Norman's dinner with Marion Crane where he confesses that "A boy's best friend is his mother," sets the audience up for the most iconic horror movie of all time.

14) Eric "Otter" Stratton - National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) - Tim Matheson

"Sophomore dies in kiln explosion? Oh My God! I just talked to her last week... She was going to make a pot for me."

-I remember watching Animal House with my family when I was younger and I was always fascinated with Otter. He's the sleazy, smooth, likeable and unofficial leader of the Delta Tau Chi fraternity and he couldn't be any more different from the rest of his brothers (except maybe Boone). Everyone else is a drunken, filthy, degenerate but Otter is motivated by one thing: having as much sex as he possibly can. His tactics are deplorable, his morals are loose, and his smooth playboy attitude gets him into heaps of trouble. His character turns around when, after getting his ass beat by their frat rivals the Omegas, he steps up to lead the Deltas' rebellion on Faber College at the school's homecoming parade. It always makes me smile when I watch Tim Matheson in other roles, but it really makes me laugh when I saw him in another National Lampoon movie, National Lampoon's Van Wilder, where he played Ryan Reynolds' father. It's hard to see him and not think of his turn as Otter Stratton.

While picking up supplies for the upcoming and infamous Toga Party, Otter spies an older lady looking at produce and triumphantly brandishes a cucumber and declares "Mine's bigger."

13) Atticus Finch - To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - Gregory Peck

"There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible."

-Atticus Finch is Gregory Peck's finest performance and the character is on the short list for "Most Noble Person That's Ever Existed In Fiction." I'm sure everyone's read the book in high school and has seen the movie around that same time so I'll be brief: If everyone in this world were a little more like Atticus there would be no problems for anyone ever.

His greatest moment is "Miss Jean Louise stand up! Your Father's passing."

12) Ash Williams - The Evil Dead II (1987) - Bruce Campbell


-Most every horror movie icon is the villain, the thing that scares you. In this, Ash is unique. He is the hero and yet also the thing mot remembered from the whole series. I suppose it comes as no surprise to everyone that Ash is one of my favorite movie characters, since I mentioned him in that rant I wrote about The Notebook a year ago. I love everything about his character, from his bumbling slapstick comedy to his over-the-top action hero persona. He's more of a parody than anything else, poking fun at the self-assured, grounded, and unstoppable action heroes of the eighties. 

Ash's greatest scene is right here.

11) William Munny - Unforgiven (1992) - Clint Eastwood
"He shoulda armed himself if he was going to decorate his saloon with my friend"

-For some reason everyone remembers Clint Eastwood's The Man With No Name from the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. I like that character a lot, but for my money his best character is from another western, Unforgiven, which he also directed. It tells the story of Will Munny, an aging gunslinger that had long since hung up his guns to be a father and a family man. After his wife dies he has to take one last job in order to help keep his farm and provide for his children. The job takes him many places, but you can really see the inner conflict in his eyes between the barbaric nature of who he used to be and his current meek and fatherly attitude. 

Munny's most iconic moment (and my favorite Clint Eastwood scene) is his final showdown with Little Bill to avenge his best friend.

Thanks everyone for reading and keep checking back in order to catch my top ten male and female movie characters.

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