Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Decade in Review, Revisited: Memorable Characters

Yes, I'm back with this again. It's really a never ending feature, though I wrapped up with my favourite casts, actors, actresses, music and costumes the sky is the limit and there's more I could ruminate on...and with nothing to do, why not?
Dan’s own list has inspired me to revisit my Decade in Review feature. I did have some categories I didn’t touch on, and what better time to reassess? The question of memorable characters is a tough one…my guess is as flawed as yours, but here goes…what makes them memorable for me? It’s not really the performances, though I’d say each performer does a good job. It’s really about how ready I am to recall the character as a complete entity with just the slightest hint – like a key phrase…or an article of clothing, a wisp of hair or an important weapon.

#10: Hans Landa (played by Christoph Waltz)
Key Token: Proficiency in language (and other things) which is, naturally, “a bingo”
See how objective I am? Though I’m neither here nor there on Inglourious Basterds, I’m not so fickle to leave Waltz’s Landa off the list. It’s difficult with recent characters to decide whether or not they’ll endure, and I suppose there’s a possibility he won’t. I was tempted to put Helen Von Bismarck on the list instead of him, but I knew that was just nepotism for Kruger’s excellent performance and not really any objective longevity precipitated by her character’s brilliance.
#9: Tom Stall (played by Viggo Mortensen)
Key Token: The gun (but, of course)
I find it so difficult to believe this man has been acting since the mid eighties. He just burst on to the scene with The Lord of the Rings and has just been improving consistently. Still, it’s this 2005 performance that stands above his other creations (and above a majority of actors). It’s two men, and yet it’s one man. They’re both deliberate, they’re both smart and they both have a way with guns.
#8: The Bride (played by Uma Thurman)
Key Token: The costume
Yes, Tarantino again. Ironic, since I’m less than fond of him. I will admit that I consider Kill Bill to be his strongest venture and a considerable amount of that lies in Uma’s Bride. Of course it’s more than Uma’s performance; the Bride has just endured as one of those iconic characters – from the jumpsuit, to the moves to the van.
#7: Sweeney Todd (played by Johnny Depp)
Key Token: The hair
Apparently the tuft of white hair was Depp’s decision, which doesn’t surprise me. From the guttural growl to the permanent scowl it’s all very individual (and judging from the videos I've seen unlike any characterisation of Sweeney Todd before). Depp is not as unoriginal performer as many have decided.
#6: Bill the Butcher (played by Daniel Day Lewis)
Key Token: The voice
Perhaps it’s because I have not internalised There Will be Blood as much as Gangs of New York or perhaps it’s because Bill’s bloody ways scare me more than Plainview. Either way, I consider this to be Day Lewis’ most iconic role. The violence, the determination, the patriotism – no matter how misguided, and of course that voice. He played a lover, and then a butcher (both excellently) – I want a third Scorsese pairing.
#5: Satine (played by Nicole Kidman)
Key Token: The hair
Nicole back when she was a redhead. I was tempted to note the pale skin, or her long legs or perhaps even her voice but it’s the long red tresses that remind me of Satine the most...and I just love that look on Nicole's face above.
#4: Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp)
Key Token: Drunkenness
A bit of an obvious choice, but that’s why it’s iconic.
#3: Miranda Priestley (played by Meryl Streep)
Key Token: “That’s all”
Oh, Streep. Her ubiquity exasperates me, but she was served up a delicious role here and milked it for all it was worth. I do love my comedy subtle and though she’s not my favourite performance in the film, she is the character we return to time and time again. Whether we remember her well tended hair, her immaculate wardrobe or her imperious glance, she was a true woman of the ages. That’s all.
#2: Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers)
Key Token: Skin colour
Must I really justify this? A franchise that has worn thin? Surely. But Shrek is an iconic, not the best animated character of the last decade but easily the most memorable for me.
#1: Gandalf the Grey, then White (played by Ian McKellen)
Key Token: The hair
This was too easy really. I did cite the performance as one of the decade’s best, and after a while it became difficult to say where the brilliance of McKellen’s performance ended and the iconicity of Gandalf began. From his quotable lines, to his enigmatic stares, his magical prowess and his commanding voice no character from the last decade leaves such a lasting impression on me as Gandalf, whether he be Grey or White.


anahita said...

merci for the link on your last post xD this post is quite interesting, simply because it's something that is in a way quite easy to judge - it's difficult and very subjective to say who the best actor was, but when considering who was MEMORABLE, you just sit back and think, and often the same characters will come up for everyone. I have to say, for me Jack Sparrow is number one, but gandalf is definitely up there. also perhaps erin brockovich, and a number of characters from love actually? they may not be the best in terms of acting, but they certainly come up when I think back on the decade xx

Red said...

Gotta agree with Gandalf being number. Tom Stall would've probably been my #2, with Daniel Plainview as #3.

Great list overall.

Castor said...

Nice selection of memorable characters. I probably would have a very different list myself but that's the beauty of movie blogging. Maybe I will come up with my own list on AM in the near future ;)

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

ana i really need to rewatch love actually. i've only seen it once, which is odd since you know how i love the british. ;)

red glad to see love for tom stall. so badass, and yet so often forgotten.

castor do! do! i love when everyone starts making lists on the same topic.

Alex in Movieland said...

looking at ur number one, I was like: "Really?!" :)

jack sparrow is probably the most iconic and Miranda most delicious.

Luke said...

Great list as usual, my friend. Gandalf is a great representative of a decade that truly became about the event pictures and fantasy films.

DEZMOND said...

thumbs up for Nicole as Satine, although I liked Ewan's role as Christian much much better (I kinda fell in love with his singing in the movie).

Thumbs up also for Miranda Priestley played by Meryl Streep. I was also in love with Emily Blunt's performance in that movie.

Cate Blanchett as the magical and ethereal Galadriel in LOTR is my favourite character from the epic.

Fitz said...

How Day-Lewis pulls off those voices I'll never know. He has such a timid voice when he isn't in character.

Kind of surprised that Shrek is so high on the list.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

alex i'm doing a miranda priestly eye role on you!

luke thanks. glad you're feeling the wisdom of gandalf.

dez i wanted to include them as a pair, and i forgot to mention him in the runner up section and on galadriel (nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo) i forgot her!!!!

fitz i too am a little surprised that shrek is so high - and i MADE this list. and on ddl, the man is just a genius; that's all there is to it.