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The Best Movie Characters of the Decade

Remember I promised my “decade” posts? Well, it’s the end of December, so I guess it’s the right time for them. I guess most of them will be film related, not because I don’t read or listen music, but because the books I read and music I listen are, most of the time, created in the previous decades.

Oh, and btw, the decade started in 2001, so these all cover 2001-2010 period.

An important note: I put “the best” in title because it’s short… But it’s actually my favourite characters, regardless of their actual quality or the opinion other people have about them.

5. Joker

The best thing about “The Dark Knight” (and the only good thing about it, besides Gary Oldman with a mustache). And while a lot of the hype was generated after Ledger’s death, it would be unfair to say the character (or performance) didn’t deserve it. Joker was unique and a whole world for himself, and you could just feel there was always more about this character than meets the eye.

The best thing about him: The air of mystery, and the fact will probably never know the whole story, just add to the appeal.
The worse thing: While certainly memorable, one must admit part of the hype is due to Ledger’s death, so it’s impossible to determine exactly how much of an impact would character otherwise have.
Personal story: This is the only character on the list I don’t have a personal connection with; I put him solely because he’s really memorable on himself. The only thing I could share is the fact he made an otherwise overrated movie watchable for me.

4. Juno

What is great about Juno is that she is, obviously, not a realistic character… Yes she does seem like one. Sadly, there are not many female characters like her in media these days, particularly not those who encounter the problems she had in the movie. Juno has a perfect mix of a tomboyish charm and femininity.
The best thing about her: She is unique, and yet, it’s easy to identify with her.
The worst thing: Hype backlash. While Juno is certainly an adorable character, she is not as great as people claimed at one point.
Personal story: I admit it, one of the main reasons I like Juno is… She looks and acts like me. A lot. (Minus the teenage pregnancy thing). Some people don’t notice this, but it’s really rare to see a tomboy character who is, well, chose to how tomboy girls really are. So yes, you could say I got attached to the character a lot.

3. Jack Sparrow

Hands down, he’s my favourite male character of the decade. The fact he’s played by Johnny Depp (who I admired and… admired (if you know what I mean) for more than a decade). Jack Sparrow was so beautifully over the top and he stole the show in a second (remember, Pirates of the Caribbean were supposed to be all about Will and Elisabeth!)

The best thing about him: He made the world realize Johny Depp’s greatness. Way too much, perhaps. (To the point I miss his earlier, indie roles).
The worst thing: Lame sequels. The character got old fast.
Personal story: It was the summer of 2003 and I was really lonely. It sounds pretty lame, but Johnny Depp in heavy makeup sure made me feel a little better!

2. Kitten

A transgendered orphan on a search for mother, love and acceptance, who gets to meet many people (IRA members are just for start), but holds onto her unique world. It’s impossible not to like Kitten and hope she’ll be alright. Sometimes you cringe at her need to ignore the bad things, but at the end, you can’t help but liking her.

The best thing about her: Her innocence and optimism. Admittedly, sometimes it’s way too much, but you can’t help but like her and hope the things would eventually turn good for her.
The worst thing: Breakfast on Pluto was a fantastic film, but it wasn’t for everyone, so not many people got to see Kitten.
Personal story: I am really attached to this character because she reminds me of my grandmother (minus the transgender part). My grandmother had the same optimism, born out of despair. A lot of bad things happened to her (both of her sons died, for example), so she just learned to shut herself from the horrors around.

She was always smiling and talking about stuff such as clothes and makeup (she loved pink and funny music). It was annoying, this optimism of hers, because she was often blind to the real world around her, but it’s not like one fails to understand how she came to be like that. So it’s impossible to watch Kitten and not to see her in the character.

1. Amélie Poulain

My favourite character of the decade. I could dedicate several posts to her and the impact this movie had on me.
The best thing about her: She is unique, maybe even quirky, but it’s easy to relate to her.
The worst thing: Once again, the hype backlash. After the initial praise for the film and the character, people got a bit tired of Amélie. But it doesn’t mean she’s not a fantastic character.
Personal story: I’ve watched this film in 2002, during a lonely summer. Watching Amélie gave me so much hope. I’ve never seen a movie character so close to what I really was, whatever that meant. So Amélie has a special place in my heart.

Honorable mentions: Briony (Atonement), Sinéad (The Wind that Shakes the Barley), Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings), Sherlock Holmes, Snape (Harry Potter series).

Inception: Overrated much?

Mild spoilers ahead

Say you have a really good concept. Say you also have a huge budget so you could build amazing CGI sets, massive action scenes and cast huge stars. You have all the good ingredients. But you fail to make the best out of it. All you get is an average action packed film that takes itself way too seriously. That’s Nolan’s “Inception”.

One of the main problems is the writing. Nolan had a great concept, but he failed to make a good story out of it. So the end result is this CGI & action heavy mess, a pretty shell with no real substance. It tries really hard to be deep and meaningful, but it’s quite banal.

… And predictable

I don’t know if Nolan himself is uneducated, or if he believes his audience is uneducated, but “Inception” was full of so-called Dan Brown or Paulo Coehlo moments. You know what I mean: something should be puzzling and with a deeper meaning, but it’s actually quite simple and obvious to anybody who is at least a bit educated.

Namely, what spoiled the movie for me was Ariadne. I have no idea why Nolan named the character this way, but it was a huge spoiler for any person who is familiar with the Greek myth (and I am sure there are many of us who are). Ariadne is introduced in the movie as the architect – but we know that Ariadne from the myth didn’t build the maze, Daedalus did. Ariadne was there to help the hero escape the maze and the Minotaur.

So basically, the whole Cobb subplot was quite predictable right from the start. The only question left in the first 20 minutes was: who’s Minotaur? But this became obvious pretty fast (my French sucks a big time, but I do understand bits – another Nolan’s mistake in naming a character).

So, I was more interested in Bobby Fisher’s story, but, alas, it was quite uninspiring and banal. I mean, when you think about it, the whole plot of the film is them messing with an innocent person’s mind (and his life) just for the lulz. Nobody ever explained why is, oh, so important and epic to destroy the Fisher company. So it was quite difficult to care about whether the Inception would work or even why is that so important in the first place. Fail.

At the (ambiguous) end, I didn’t bother to care whether it was all a dream or not.

Clumsy storytelling

I blame it all on the messy script. There were just too many things that didn’t work, script wise.

For example, exposition was forced down our throat, over and over again. Some things were obvious the first time we saw them – there was really no need to explain them again and again. It’s obvious right from the start that Cobb’s wife was dead. Or that Fisher wanted his father to care about him. We got it. Now please move on.

The time wasted on this could have been used to explore all those things that were shown, but never got any proper use in the film. Street/space bending, for example, was really interesting, but was never really shown later in the film. Same goes for totems and their importance.

Not to mention the main premise: Robert Fisher’s inception itself. Why was it so important? Why should we care about the mission? We don’t. There was really nothing important at stake: the world was not in danger, no lives were in danger, no epic story was going on, nothing. It was really difficult to invest emotionally or to care about the mission.

The whole movie failed to raise any important questions or issues. Which is fine for an action flick, but this one had an ambition to be much deeper. It wasn’t.

The good things

The corridor fight scene was pretty cool. And this comes from a person who generally hates action scenes. The main concept is pretty interesting (which is the saddest thing about this movie – the concept itself had a huge potential). Also, Tom Hardy was cute.

All in all

Am I saying this was a horrible flick? Not at all. It was watchable. But it’s main problem is the fact it takes itself WAY too seriously, while it’s pretty mediocre. With such a great concept, there were virtually hundreds of possible stories and plots, but they decided to focus on pretty banal ones.

Nolan is far from being a bad director, but he is not really a good writer. He has an imagination, but is not a particularly skillful storyteller.

Also, he tends to get lost in huge budgets, which is never a good thing. If you have all the money for huge explosions, star cast, massive action scenes, limitless CGI, you tend to forget about the basics: the story itself. I think “Inception” would be twice as good with its budget cut in half. It’s once again proven that, indeed, less is more.

Less is more, Nolan. Less is more.

PS- Just like any other massively popular icon, “Inception” has already generated its set of Internet memes. The most popular are the ones of Cobb and Robert Fisher Jr talking at the bar. Some of them are just plain stupid, others are horribly racist and/or sexist/homophobic. But there are some great ones that actually make the best thing about this film.

(Click to see the full sized image)

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