The 100 Greatest Characters of the Decade

We count down the movie characters that defined the era 2000-2009

by | January 7, 2010 | Comments

As we crest a brand new decade, we thought it high time to take one more look back at the 2000s (okay, the fact that it’s January, the most boring month of the year, had something to do with it, too). Yes, it’s another list, but this time we’ve sifted through a decade’s worth of films in an attempt — foolhardy, perhaps — to pick the 100 greatest movie characters of the past 10 years. Some are obvious, some you may have forgotten; no doubt you’ll agree with many and be puzzled at others. Well, that’s the fun of lists, isn’t it? So, let the the arguments begin…


100. Sulley (Monsters, Inc., 2001)

Who: Monstropolis’ mighty scare champ whose life is turned around when he takes possession of the creatures most feared foe — a human child.

Defining moment: Having his big furry heart melted by the little human pest.

Quote: “Look, it’s empty. No monster in here! Okay, now there is. I’m not gonna scare you. I’m off duty.”


99. Jesse James (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007)

Who: The cowboy as proto A-list celebrity — that he’s a criminal just makes hearts beat faster, including that of the coward, who wants to bask in fame by assassination.

Defining moment: Jesse James, perhaps acting an self-destructive enabler, uses Bob for a throat-slitting demonstration — and then gives his newly motivated cowardly assassin a pistol as a gift.

Quote: “I’ve been becoming a problem to myself.”


98. King Leonidas (300, 2006)

Who: Tough-as-granite leader of the 300 spartans who’ll face down a million man Persian army in the Battle of Thermopylae.

Defining moment: Leonidas kicks Xerses emissary into the eternal blackness of that well, demonstrating his understanding of diplomacy — which goes something like: no retreat, no surrender, the best defense is a good offence, kill ’em all and let the demigods sort ’em out.

Quote: “This is Sparta!”


97. Edward Cullen (Twilight, 2008)

Who: Ageless, smouldery-sparkly reformed vampire with a taste for uplifting hair product and wooing lovesick teenage girls.

Defining moment: Revealing his true, glittering self to Bella in the dappled sunlight of the forest.

Quote: “And so the lion fell in love with the lamb.”


96. Theo (Children of Men, 2006)

Who: Former activist turned bureaucrat turned reluctant savior of mankind when his still radicalized ex-wife pays him to transport the only woman to get pregnant in 18 years.

Defining moment:Theo braves full-tilt urban warfare between the British army and refugee rebels in Bexhill to free Kee and her new-born baby.

Quote: “This is the first baby born in 20 years and you want to name it Froley?”


95. James T. Kirk (Star Trek, 2009)

Who: The young hot-headed Starfleet recruit who was literally born to battle — and who has a lifelong score to settle with Romulan Nero.

Defining moment: Assuming command of the Enterprise after Spock resigns the captaincy.

Quote: “Either we’re going down… or they are — Kirk out.”


94. Queen Elizabeth (The Queen, 2006)

Who: Reigning English monarch facing her annus horribilis in the wake of Princess Diana’s death.

Defining moment: The moment of eerie recognition between Elizabeth and the deer in the woods she’s about to shoot.

Quote: “If you imagine I’m going to drop everything and come down to London before I attend to my grandchildren who’ve just lost their mother… then you’re mistaken.”


93. Ben Stone (Knocked Up, 2007)

Who: The lovable loser-stoner who just happens to knock up the sexy up-and-coming E! reporter.

Defining moment: Defining moment: In the diner, when Alison tells him she’s pregnant and, after his initial “F–k off!” response, Ben rolls with it… like the affable teddy bear he is.

Quote: “But between you and me, it was the smartest thing I ever did, ’cause now you’re here.”


92. Larry Gopnik (A Serious Man, 2009)

Who: Jewish husband and father who can’t understand how and why his marriage and career are coming apart at the seams when all he’s ever tried to be is a serious man.

Defining moment: Larry hears the story of the Goy’s teeth, expecting an answer that doesn’t come.

Quote: “No, I– well yeah! Sometimes! Or– I don’t know; I guess the honest answer is I don’t know. What was my life before? Not what I thought it was. What does it all mean?”


91. Kim Jong Il (Team America: World Police, 2004)

Who: Despotic population-starving totalitarian dictator rendered oddly sympathetic via puppetry, songs and contrast with Hollywood douchebags.

Defining moment: Kim Jong Il reveals his sad-clown side with the song “I’m So Ronery”.

Quote: “You are worthress, Arec Barrwin!”


90. Richard Nixon (Frost/Nixon, 2008)

Who: Disgraced former President who thinks he can set the record straight and reclaim his dignity by manipulating gormless British TV talking head David Frost.

Defining moment:Nixon drunk dials Frost and goads him into a make-or-break confrontation — a fictionalized moment, to be sure, but great cinema nevertheless.

Quote: “I’m saying that when the President does it, that means it’s not illegal!”


89. Walt Kowalski (Gran Torino, 2008)

Who: Grouchy old racist haunted by his Korean War history but whose heart is gradually melted by the plight of his put-upon Hmong neighbors.

Defining moment: Walt faces off with the Hmong gang at the end — having set them up perfectly.

Quote:“Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn’t have f–ked with? That’s me.”


88. Wilson (Cast Away, 2001)

Who: A volleyball who serves as castaway Chuck Noland’s only desert-island companion for four years.

Defining moment: Wilson gets the bloody handprint and face that will serve as his singular expression.

Quote: He’s the strong, silent and inflatable type.


87. Shaun (Shaun of the Dead, 2004)

Who: Brit pub slacker whose life only really begins when the dead rise and he finds he’s quite good at dispatching them.

Defining moment: Shaun comes up with a comically novel method of killing zombies with old vinyl records — simultaneously ridding his collection of crap like Dire Straits.

Quote: “How’s that for a slice of fried gold?”


86. Kym (Rachel Getting Married, 2008)

Who: Recently-released ex-drug addict about to crash her older sister’s wedding like a family tornado.

Defining moment: Kym’s passive-aggresive toast at Rachel’s wedding-eve dinner turns the celebration into an on-edge blame session.

Quote: “I am Shiva the destroyer, your harbinger of doom this evening. “


85. Penny Lane (Almost Famous, 2000)

Who: “Band Aid” to the supergroups of the drug-fueled rock scene in the early ’70s who just wants her little piece of fame to remember.

Defining moment: Confessing her dreams to fledgling rock-crit William Miller, her soul mate on the periphery — and then OD’ing on quaaludes.

Quote: “We are not Groupies. Groupies sleep with rockstars because they want to be near someone famous. We are here because of the music, we inspire the music. We are Band Aids.”


84. Nick Naylor (Thank You For Smoking, 2006)

Who: Irrepressible and unapologetic spokesman for Big Tobacco who wants to put smoking back where it belongs — in the movies.

Defining moment: Nick doesn’t back down, or apologize, in front of the Senate, but rather defends people’s right to make the wrong choice.

Quote: “That’s the beauty of argument, if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong.”


83. Hellboy (Hellboy/Hellboy II, 2004/2008)

Who: Cigar-chomping demon-boy who grows up to work for the government in fighting paranormal weirdness. Fond of cats.

Defining moment: Wrangling a monstrous tree-demon in the second film — where we see the delicate balance between his mission to help humans and his affinity with a dying underworld.

Quote: “Ah, crap.”


82. Vincent (Collateral, 2004)

Who: Remorseless hitman who hires an LA cabbie — at gunpoint — to drive him around for a night while he dispatches his targets.

Defining moment: A dead body lands on the taxi’s roof, having fallen from the apartment where Vincent went — and we know this guy means business.

Quote: “You no longer have the cleanest cab in La-La Land. You gotta live with that. Focus on the job. Drive.”


81. Giselle (Enchanted, 2007)

Who: Eternally sunny cartoon princess made flesh and blood in cold and uncaring New York.

Defining moment: Giselle, needing a dress, simply takes to her host’s curtains.

Quote:“Dreams do come true.”


80. Rorschach (Watchmen, 2009)

Who: Masked vigilante whose sense of right and wrong extends to world extinction, if necessary.

Defining moment: He sits opposite the shrink, looking at the ink blots, flashing to the atrocities of his life, calmly and creepily growling to the doc he’s seeing “some nice flowers” before explaining the night of his first kill, when Walter Kovacs was replaced by Rorschach.

Quote: “I’m not locked in here with you — you’re locked in here with me!”


79. Willie (Bad Santa, 2003)

Who: Misanthropic drunk with a fondness for ladies’ bottoms who each Christmas takes a Santa job to get insider-access for a mall-robbery job.

Defining moment: In a beautiful summation of his tough, stinky and drunken love, Willie puts The Kid in a boxing ring with Marcus the Elf for a lesson in fighting. Nut-punching ensues.

Quote: “Why don’t you wish in one hand, and sh-t in the other. See which one fills up first.


78. Erin Brockovich (Erin Brockovich, 2000)

Who: Unemployed single mother who becomes a legal assistant and finds herself taking on a corporation polluting the water supply.

Defining moment: Erin’s first trash-talking showdown with her boss, played by Albert Finney — setting the tone for her pull-no-punches style.

Quote: “Well as long as I have one ass instead of two I’ll wear what I like if that’s all right with you. You might want to re-think those ties.”


77. She (Antichrist, 2009)

Who: Grieving mother who retreats to the idyllic woods — only to turn husband-impaling, self-mutilating root of all things Evil. Maybe.

Defining moment: Stalking her husband through the forest, having just driven a drill through his leg, while screaming “Where are you?!” — as frightening a scene as any horror film of the decade.

Quote: “Nature is Satan’s church.”


76. Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles, 2004)

Who: Former superhero sued into retirement by an ungrateful populace who has grown into a fat and frustrated family man — until he’s called back into the fray.

Defining moment: Rediscovering that he’s still got it — albeit needing to lose some weight — on being lured into a trap at Syndrome’s lair.

Quote: “No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again.”


75. Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones’s Diary, 2001)

Who: Brash, weight-challenged thirtysomething office worker who lands herself in a predicament when her boss and a charming barrister vie for her affections.

Defining moment: Finally asserting herself in the face of Daniel Cleaver’s slick advances.

Quote: “Bridget Jones, wanton sex goddess, with a very bad man between her thighs… Mum… Hi…”


74. Andy Stitzer (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, 2005)

Who: The ultimate well-meaning nerd who has an extensive action-figure collection and precisely zero experience in the ways of love.

Defining moment: While playing poker with the boys, Andy desperately compares groping a boob to feeling like a “bag of sand”, which gives away his virginal status — and sets him on the path to deflowering and true love.

Quote: “Yooooooooow, Kelly Clarkson!”


73. Coraline (Coraline, 2009)

Who: Inquisitive, plucky stop-motion girl who gets more than she wished for when she discovers an “other” world literally too good to be true.

Defining moment: Outwitting her other mother in a game of hide and seek — right before she’s about to have buttons sewn into her eyes..

Quote: “You are not my mother!”


72. Sam Bell (Moon, 2009)

Who: The lonesome astronaut stationed on the lunar surface who discovers that he’s not losing his mind so much as gaining a few.

Defining moment: Sam dips down in the sub-basement to see just how off-the-rack he is.

Quote: “I just want to go home.”


71. Charlie Kaufman / Donald Kaufman (Adaptation, 2002)

Who: Hot meta-screenwriter suffering writer’s block while trying to adapt a difficult novel, while his twin brother — or is he a figment of his imagination? — coasts to success on hacky formulae.

Defining moment: Strung out while narrating the events of the universe — from the dawn of time — that lead up to the introduction to the first scene in his screenplay.

Quote: “You and I share the same DNA. Is there anything more lonely than that?”


70. Remy (Ratatouille, 2007)

Who: The unlikely little rodent who proved “anyone can cook” to become the star chef in a French restaurant.

Defining moment: Hidden beneath Linguini’s chef hat, Remy begins his puppetry routine to create the perfect soup.

Quote: “If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.”


69. Aileen (Monster, 2003)

Who: The white-trash, hard-livin’ hooker who, sick of her clients beating her, starts murderering them — and finds it’s the line of work she digs the most.

Defining moment: Aileen meets Selby Wall and, after an initial misunderstanding, they hit it off — providing her with her only real human relationship, and one that’ll ensure she’s executed.

Quote: “I’m not a bad person. I’m a real good person.”


68. Jason Bourne (Bourne trilogy, 2003-2008)

Who: Super-dooper secret agent who was betrayed and blown away, only to live another day, albeit with a memory that only returns over the course of three films.

Defining moment: Bourne, sitting in a café, explains to Marie that, without knowing exactly how, he has perfect situational awareness, able to recite license plates and locate the best place to find a gun.

Quote: “Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?”


67. Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle, 2004)

Who: Shape-shifting, vanity-prone wizard who rescues a cursed girl in his trans-dimensional castle.

Defining moment: Transforming into a flying serpent-like creature as he wages air battle against attacking machines,

Quote: “All of this magic is to keep everybody away. I can’t stand how scared I am.”


66. Alonzo (Training Day, 2001)

Who: The ultimate street-smart cop who has crossed over to the dark side — and who wants to take everyone with him.

Defining moment: Alonzo forces trainee cop Jake to take a hit of reefer at gunpoint — as an introduction to how bad he’s become and just how far he’ll push the cash-filled envelope.

Quote: “I run sh*t here! Y’all just live here!”


65. Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Spider-Man, 2002)

Who: Friendly neighbourhood geek who, thanks to the bite of a super spider, turns into a muscle-bound, web-slinging and gravity-defying neighbourhood superhero.

Defining moment: Peter Parker used his razor-sharp reflexes, new strength and general webslinginess to get the best of a bully in the school cafeteria — and it dawns on him just how kick-ass he’s become, something that’s soon confirmed as he’s swinging between buildings.

Quote: “Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Spider-Man.”


64. Shosanna Dreyfus (Inglourious Basterds, 2009)

Who: French-Jewish cinema owner who plots bloody revenge against the Nazis after her family was murdered.

Defining moment: Locking and loading guns and film — and applying war-paint — to the sound of David Bowie’s “Cat People”.

Quote: “I have a message for Germany…. That you are all going to die. And I want you to look deep into the face of the Jew that is going to do it! “


63. Gerd Wiesler (The Lives of Others, 2006)

Who:Icy-cold East German surveillance expert who comes to question his obedience to totalitarianism when his spying reveals the morality and goodness of his subjects.

Defining moment: After hearing the playwright Dreyman and his conspirators’ ruse to test whether the apartment is bugged, Wiesler doesn’t pass the information onto his superiors — thus initiating his obstructive defense of those he’s supposed to be against.

Quote: “An innocent prisoner will become more angry by the hour due to the injustice suffered.”


62. Maximus (Gladiator, 2000)

Who: Former Roman general determined to end Emperor Commodus for the latter’s murder of his family.

Defining moment: Maximus reveals his true identity – father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife — to the suddenly very nervous Commodus and to the enthralled audience of bloodthirsty Romans (and moviegoers).

Quote: “At my signal, unleash hell!”


61. Harvey Pekar (American Splendor, 2003)

Who: Underground American comic book artist slaving away at a monotonous filing job while keeping his passion.

Defining moment: Harvey’s first appearance on late night talk show TV — that awkward moment of the spotlight shining into the underground.

Quote: “Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.”


60. Steve Zissou (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004)

Who: Red beanie loving oceanographer out to disprove his sceptics by finding the legendary “jaguar shark” that killed his team mate.

Defining moment: Coming face-to-face with Ned, the son he’s never met — and reigniting his passion for the quest.

Quote: “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go on an overnight drunk, and in 10 days I’m going to set out to find the shark that ate my friend and destroy it. Anyone who wants to tag along is more than welcome.”


59. Elle Woods (Legally Blonde, 2001)

Who: Jilted sorority princess follows her ex to law school where here naive ways turn her into an unlikely legal eagle.

Defining moment: Winning her big case based on her understanding of perm longevity and gay men’s taste in shoes.

Quote: “Oh, I like your outfit too — except when I dress up as a frigid bitch, I try not to look so constipated.”


58. Tony Stark (Iron Man, 2008)

Who: Billionaire wise-ass playboy kidnapped by terrorists and forced to build a superhero suit to escape — thus transforming into Iron Man.

Defining moment: Taking the suit out for its rocky first flight.

Quote: “The truth is… I am Iron Man.”


57. Shrek (Shrek, 2001)

Who: Everyone’s favorite green giant with the gruff manner and the good heart, that beats strongest for pug-nosed Princess Fiona.

Defining moment: As much as it’s Fiona that makes the fairy-tale romance rock, Shrek’s real comedic charms come into play as soon as he meets his bro-mantic love-to-hate soul-mate, Donkey.

Quote: “Donkey, two things okay? Shut… up.”


56. Hedwig (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, 2001)

Who: East German transexual punk rocker hits the road in the US — where she runs into the dude who stole all her music.

Defining moment: Hedwig and the band perform a spectacular punk rock cabaret number to a dive bar full of hicks in nowheresville.

Quote: “How did some slip of a girly boy from communist East Berlin become the internationally ignored song stylist barely standing before you? “


55. James Bond (Casino Royale, 2006)

Who: Newly minted 00 agent given his first big job, which involves… playing cards really, really well.

Defining moment: In the literally cracking introduction we see Bond recall for corrupt MI6 section chief Dryden how he earned the right to kill him by finishing off a contact in a Pakistani bathroom — and in that instant we say goodbye to 40 years of tuxedos and campy karate chops.

Quote: “The name’s Bond. James Bond.”


54. Dae-su Oh (Oldboy, 2003)

Who: South Korean businessman mysteriously imprisoned for 15 years only to be set free so he can become implacable revenge warrior.

Defining moment: Dae-su eats the live octopus — nothing says crazy mofo quite like it.

Quote: “As I expected, I can’t get along with anyone today either.”


53. Truman Capote (Capote, 2005)

Who: The larger-than-life, arrogantly flawed genius who made his name with the breakthrough non-fiction book In Cold Blood, which documented grisly American murder and the path the killers took to their executions.

Defining moment: All it takes is for Capote to see an article about “the killings in Kansas” and his life and career are forever changed, going from New York bon vivant to mid-western crusader dedicated to revealing the soul of cold-blooded murderer Perry Smith.

Quote: “Sometimes when I think of how good my book is going to be, I can’t breathe.”


52. Kenny (Kenny, 2006)

Who: Cuddly Aussie bloke who humbly goes about his job as portable toilet guy, revealing himself to truly be the “Dalai Lama of Waste Management”.

Defining moment: For all of his selflessness, self-deprecation and self-sacrifice, Kenny’s life lights up when he finally gets something for himself in Jackie, the flight attendant.

Quote: “There is a smell in here that’s going to outlast religion.”


51. Jake Sully (Avatar, 2009)

Who: Who? Paralyzed US marine who gets a new lease on life — and legs — as a nine-foot tall Na’vi-human hybrid on Pandora.

Defining moment: Jake awakes in his new body and immediately takes it out for a run.

Quote: “I’ve got this.”


50. Buddy (Elf, 2003)

Who: A man who grew up with elves believing himself to be one — until he heads to New York in search of his real father.

Defining moment: After chugging a bottle of “syrup”, Buddy brings mirth to the mailroom by leading a rousing dance number.

Quote: “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favourite.”


49. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Batman Begins, 2005)

Who: Born to the manor, made a man in the Himalayas, self-made a Batman in Gotham.

Defining moment: Having completed his training, Bruce Wayne refuses to execute a criminal, drawing the line in the sand that will keep him from crossing over into the true dark night.

Quote: “Does it come in black?”


48. Tom Stall (A History of Violence, 2005)

Who: Small-town everyman whose life is upended after he shoots a professional killer in self-defense.

Defining moment: The stand-off on the front lawn with Ed Harris’ crime boss — where we learn the exact nature of Tom’s past.

Quote: “I should have killed you back in Philly.”


47. Erika Kohut (The Piano Teacher, 2001)

Who: Stern piano instructor with a repressed sexual appetite that manifests itself in grisly acts self-harm

Defining moment: Taking a bath — then taking a razor blade to herself.

Quote: “From now on, you give the orders. If you want to hit me, hit me.”


46. Sweeney Todd (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2007)

Who: London barber unjustly imprisoned and out for revenge — via song and slitting the throats of humanity.

Defining moment: Crooning an ode to his rediscovered razorblades, soon to become his instruments of payback.

Quote: “You, sir! How about a shave? Come and visit your good friend Sweeney! You sir! Too, sir. Welcome to the grave.”


45. Benjamin Button (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008)

Who: The sad miracle of nature born a wizened octogenarian, who gets younger with every passing day.

Defining moment: Benjamin returns to find Daisy, finally at an age and of the right frame of mind, to provide an all-too brief emotional “centre” to his backwards-lived life.

Quote: “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be.”


44. Leonard (Memento, 2000)

Who: Former insurance fraud investigator searching for answers and vengeance after a burglary left his wife dead — and him with an amnesiac condition that prevents him forming new memories.

Defining moment: “Okay, so… what am I doing?” he asks himself as he runs along. “Oh, I’m chasing this guy.” The guys sees him and pulls a gun. “No — he’s chasing me.”

Quote: “I can’t remember to forget you.”


43. Barry Egan (Punch-Drunk Love, 2003)

Who: Borderline psychotic bathroom tap salesman/frozen pudding collector who falls head over heels for a socially challenged woman in this oddball romance.

Defining moment: Making the decision to run back up to his girl’s apartment door after their first date for a pivotal kiss.

Quote: “I’m lookin’ at your face and I just wanna smash it. I just wanna f–kin’ smash it with a sledgehammer and squeeze it. You’re so pretty.”


42. Chihiro (Spirited Away, 2002)

Who: Moody little girl who wanders away from her family and into a strange land of witches, dragons and stink gods.

Defining moment: Chihiro’s haunting journey by train in the company of No-Face..

Quote: “If you want to eat me, eat this first. I was going to save it for my parents, but I think you’d better have it. “


41. Ennis Del Mar (Brokeback Mountain, 2005)

Who: Gruff cowpoke who heads up the mountain to rustle sheep with his buddy Jack Twist — beginning a lifelong romance they can never reveal.

Defining moment: Fishing Jack’s shirt out of the closet after his death — and finally breaking down.

Quote: “Bottom line is… we’re around each other and… this thing, it grabs hold of us again… at the wrong place… at the wrong time… and we’re dead. “


40. Jen Yu (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000)

Who: High-flying wire-fu teenage rebel who wields a mysterious stolen sword — and an attitude to match.

Defining moment: Demolishing an entire tavern full of would-be assassins — and then the tavern itself .

Quote: “You want to know who I am? I am the Invincible Sword Goddess, armed with the Green Destiny that knows no equal!”


39. Napoleon (Napoleon Dynamite, 2004)

Who:The ultimate midwestern dork, his way with drawing a Liger is unparalleled.

Defining moment: Helping his best buddy Pedro win the class presidency with an unusual dance off.

Quote: “It’s pretty much my favourite animal. It’s like a lion and a tiger mixed… bred for its skills in magic. “


38. Dory (Finding Nemo, 2003)

Who:The fish — a regal tang, for all you piscatorial pedants out there — with a big heart and a bigger hole where her short-term memory should be.

Defining moment: Dory shows her pluck, lack of brains and why she’s the film’s comic highlight by trying to speak “whale” to ask for directions to Sydney, Australia, where Nemo’s been taken.

Quote: “I can read? That’s right, I can READ!”


37. Rita (Mulholland Dr., 2001)

Who: Hollywood actress suffering amnesia who partners up with a naive hopeful to unravel the mystery… or are they the same person?

Defining moment: In the middle of the night in a seedy Hollywood club, Rita and Betty — in identical blonde wigs — watch a chanteuse collapse on stage.

Quote: “It’s strange calling yourself.”


36. Harvey Milk (Milk, 2008)

Who: Californian civil activist who became the first openly gay man elected to government — and was then shot dead.

Defining moment: Sparring with right wing crusader Anita Bryant on national TV.

Quote: “A homosexual with power… that’s scary.”


35. Don Logan (Sexy Beast, 2000)

Who: Sociopathic British criminal with a chip on his shoulder the size of Scotland who turns up in Spain to try to enlist his old comrade-in-crime in a heist.

Defining moment: In a torrent of memorable swear-tastic abuse — accompanied by a gut-punch — Don makes it clear to Gal that he isn’t taking no for an answer, and makes it clear to us that he is utterly and violently insane.

Quote: “Not this time, Gal. Not this time. Not this f–king time. No. No no no no no no no no no! No! No no no no no no no no no no no no no! No!”


34. Carl Friedricksen (Up, 2009)

Who: The 78-year-old grouch whose grumpiness we perfectly understand — just as understand his mad desire to finally realize his dream by floating his home away to Paradise Falls.

Defining moment: As a youngster, Carl meets Ellie, forging a lifelong relationship with the one person who shares his dreams and wants him to live them — even after she’s dead.

Quote: “You in the suit! Yes, you! Take a bath, hippie!”


33. Eli (Let the Right One In, 2008)

Who: The wan little 12-year-old girl who lives in the playground equipment — and who can tear the throats out of men and the heads off teenage bullies.

Defining moment: When she obeys Oscar’s command to come in without an invitation, showing the lengths to which she’ll go for his friendship.

Quote: “I’m not a girl.”


32. Royal Tenenbaum (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001)

Who: Eccentric patriarch who attempts to make amends with his equally eccentric family after learning he may be dying.

Defining moment: Reconnecting with the Tenenbaum grandkids and teaching them no good — much to their dad’s displeasure..

Quote: “I’ve always been considered an asshole for about as long as I can remember. That’s just my style. But I’d really feel blue if I didn’t think you were going to forgive me.”


31. Selma (Dancer in the Dark, 2000)

Who: Half-blind factory worker immigrant who escapes her predicament by imagining her life in musicals.

Defining moment: Selma’s sweet but deeply uneasy verses as she counts down the steps leading to her brutal hanging.

Quote: “In a musical, nothing dreadful ever happens.”


30. Enid (Ghost World, 2001)

Who: Acidic teenager drifting through the underbelly of dead-end Los Angeles suburbia.

Defining moment: Putting on the old 78 record she bought from a garage sale and hearing a new sound change her perspective..

Quote: “I just hate all these extroverted, obnoxious, pseudo-bohemian losers.”


29. Harry Potter (Harry Potter series, 2001-2009)

Who: The Boy Wizard of Hogwarts.

Defining moment: Harry learns the dark secret about Voldemort that will define him.

Quote: “Me? Voldemort tried to kill… me?”


28. Colonel Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds, 2009)

Who: The Jew Hunter who takes glee in his Nazi business, but who isn’t above cutting a side deal that’ll see him win WWII — for himself.

Defining moment: When Hans extinguishes Bridget’s lights, using the same sort of charming “gameplay” that’s his trademark, we’re reminded just exactly how personal his evil is.

Quote: “That’s a bingo!”


27. Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings, 2001-2003)

Who: Friendly Middle Earth wizard who guides Frodo and Co. in all matters ring-worthy

Defining moment: He takes on the Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-dum in an epic battle that’ll conclude on Zirak-Zigil with Gandalf’s death seeing him sent back as Gandalf The White.

Quote: “You shall not pass!”


26. McLovin’ (Superbad, 2007)

Who: A nerdburger so complete he makes Eddie Deezen look like Brad Pitt: that is, until he hooks up with some crazy cops — who take his fake ID at ridiculous face value — and take him on a series of rad-ventures.

Defining moment:He fires off a clip with his new fuzz-buddies.

Quote: “I am McLovin'”.


25. Joel Barish (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004)

Who: Jilted schmoe who, in retaliation for his ex-girlfriend Clementine’s dabbling in memory erasure, sets out to have his recollections about her erased — only to discover he wants to hang onto life’s joys and pains.

Defining moment: Joel meets Clementine on the Montauk train — attracted to her without realizing they’ve been lovers before the events we’re about to see… in his mind… kinda. What?

Quote: “Okay” — the last line, in which Joel acknowledges he’s happy to take Clementine warts ‘n’ all.


24. Wolverine (X-Men, 2000)

Who: Hirsute bezerker rescued by the X-Men to become one of their finest.

Defining moment: Fighting his way out of a cage match in Canada.

Quote: “Magneto’s right — there is a war coming. Are you sure you’re on the right side?”


23. Chopper Reid (Chopper, 2000)

Who: Heavily tattooed, lightly eared Aussie criminal and standover (mad)man.

Defining moment: Having shot a crooked associate, big-hearted Chopper then takes him to hospital — the perfect summation of his contradictions.

Quote: “I’m just a bloody normal bloke. A normal bloke who likes a bit of torture.”


22. Bob Harris (Lost in Translation, 2003)

Who: Middle-aged American actor stumbling bemused through Tokyo while there shooting whiskey commercials.

Defining moment: Blink and you’ll miss it — Bob does a double take in the mirror; a fleeting assessment of his life.

Quote: “You want more mysterious? I’ll just try and think, ‘Where the Hell’s the whiskey?'”


21. Pan (Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006)

Who: Minion of the underworld who guides young princess Ofelia through her magical challenges on Earth.

Defining moment: His first meeting with Ofelia in which he explains her destiny in that deep, peculiar voice.

Quote: “Me? I’ve had so many names. Old names that only the wind and the trees can pronounce.”


20. Idi Amin (The Last King of Scotland, 2006)

Who: Despotic Ugandan tyrant manipulating his young Scottish doctor against his enemies.

Defining moment: Inviting international diplomats to dinner and joking about his rumoured cannibalism — the jester one step removed from psychosis.

Quote: “You came to Africa to play the White Man, but we are real! This room is real! And when you die? It will be the first real thing you have ever done!”


19. Jean-Do (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, 2007)

Who: French Vogue editor who suffers a stroke that leaves his consciousness “locked in” to an immobile body whose only movement is an eyelid — which he then uses to “dictate” his memoir.

Defining moment: The extraordinary point-of-view sequence that begins the film and places us in the body of Jean Do, unable to communicate as he’s wheeled here and there and has his other eye sewn shut.

Quote:“Other than my eye, two things aren’t paralyzed, my imagination and my memory.”


18. Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men, 2007)

Who: He may look like a Beatles-haired hitman with a cattlegun but he’s really the inhuman embodiment of inescapable, implacable fate.

Defining moment: Early in the piece, when Chigurh strangles a deputy, just look into those black eyes and gauge the depth of feeling — there is none.

Quote: “What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?”


17. Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada, 2006)

Who: High fashion priestess and icy editor of Vogue-like magazine Runway.

Defining moment: That revealing moment of the real person that breaks through when her assistant, Andy, catches her off guard at home.

Quote: “By all means move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me..”


16. Bob Dylan (I’m Not There, 2007)

Who: Folk-singer. Rocker ‘n’ roller. Poet. Total mystery — especially as portrayed by six different actors.

Defining moment: Cate Blanchett’s surreal impersonation of electric-era Bob as he jests with journalists and performs “Ballad of a Thin Man”.

Quote: “God, I’m glad I’m not me.”


15. Randy “The Ram” Robinson (The Wrestler, 2008)

Who: Beaten-down former wrestling hero giving glory one more shot — if only he can overcome his most fearsome nemesis: himself.

Defining moment: Randy realizes that while he may have made a mess of things, he can still make that leap into glory — and oblivion.

Quote: “I don’t hear as good as I used to, and I ain’t as pretty as I used to be, but I’m still here — I’m the Ram”


14. Derek Zoolander (Zoolander, 2001)

Who: Male model extraordinaire at the end of his fame is recruited on a dangerous — and extremely silly — mission of fashion sabotage.

Defining moment: Blue steel. Each and every one of them.

Quote: “Well I guess it all started the first time I went through the second grade. I caught my reflection in a spoon while I was eating my cereal, and I remember thinking ‘Wow, you’re ridiculously good looking, maybe you could do that for a career.'”


13. Donnie Darko (Donnie Darko, 2001)

Who: Schizophrenic teen who has visions of a giant rabbit telling him the end of the world.

Defining moment: Stabbing a hole through the interdimensional plasma — could he have stumbled into time travel?

Quote: “Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?”


12. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho, 2000)

Who: The ultra slick and ultra sick 1980s yuppie taking out his frustrations on Wall Street via his work in murders and assassinations — or are his evil doings merely a hallucinatory by-product of the soul-destroying business of mergers and acquisitions?

Defining moment: The stately introduction in which Bateman details his exfoliation and exercise regime — so very normal and yet so… off.

Quote: “And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable… I simply am not there.”


11. Kirk Lazarus (Tropic Thunder, 2008)

Who: Awards-chasing, super serious Australian actor who undergoes the ultimate Method Man transformation for his role as an African-American soldier — he has his skin pigmented black.

Defining moment: Delivering his speech about how not to win an Oscar to Ben Stiller’s clueless grunt Tug Speedman.

Quote: “Never go full retard.”


10. Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean, 2003)

Who: Part camp Disney villain, part Keith Richards, the mincing, drunken buccaneer in swarthy command of the pirate ship The Black Pearl.

Defining moment: Making a break for his ship — and a mockery of the snotty British — as he escapes.

Quote: “Now… bring me that horizon. “


9. Juno MacGuff (Juno, 2007)

Who: Smart-mouthed, pop-culture obsessed high schooler who gets pregnant and decides to have the baby for adoption.

Defining moment: Telling her best friend she’s “fo’ shizz up the spout”… while talking on a cheeseburger phone..

Quote: “You should’ve gone to China, you know, ’cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events.”


8. The Bride (Kill Bill, 2003)

Who: The betrayed former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad now on a roaring rampage of revenge against her former colleagues and her boss and lover, Bill.

Defining moment: Post-coma, The Bride gets her toe to wiggle — the supremely difficult first “step” that proves there’s nothing she can’t overcome.

Quote: “”When fortune smiles on something as violent and ugly as revenge, it seems proof like no other, that not only does God exist, you’re doing His will.”


7. Ron Burgundy (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, 2004)

Who: San Diego’s reigning news anchor and chauvinist, he’s about to get the shock of his life when the network pairs him with a female co-host.

Defining moment: Burgundy’s unexpected flute performance and bizarre interlude — proving there’s charm beneath the sexist exterior.

Quote: “The only way to bag a classy lady is to give her two tickets to the gun show… and see if she likes the goods.”


6. Gollum (The Lord of the Rings, 2001-2003)

Who: Former Hobbit turned gnarled, schizoid cave dweller thanks to his obsession with the Ring of power.

Defining moment: Debating with his split personalities — Gollum and Smeagol — in the marshes while in pursuit of Frodo and Sam.

Quote: “We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false! “


5. Amélie Poulain (Amélie, 2001)

Who: The ultimate manic pixie dream girl — she didn’t just save just one brooding male soul, but ignited the passion and warmth of all of Paris and made hearts around the world beat faster.

Defining moment: Amélie reunites an old man with his long-lost toys and discovers the joys of making magic from afar..

Quote: “I like to look for things no one else catches.”


4. WALL-E (WALL-E, 2008)

Who: The lonely little waste disposal robot left behind on a desolate, junk-pile Earth.

Defining moment: Awkwardly attempting to impress shiny new visitor EVE with his collection of rubbish — and love of showtunes.



3. Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood, 2007)

Who: Rapacious early 20th Century oil-man locked in deadly battle with the Earth itself, God’s minion and his own black soul.

Defining moment: Daniel Plainview accepts salvation at the pious hands of unctuous preacher Eli Sunday — we know payback will be a bitch.

Quote: “I drink your milkshake!”


2. The Joker (The Dark Knight, 2008)

Who: Deranged sociopath in clown makeup on a mission to bring elementary chaos to Gotham.

Defining moment: Goading Batman in their face-to-face confrontation in a police cell — “See to them, you’re just a freak… like me!”

Quote: “Why… so… serious?”


1. Borat (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, 2006)

Who: The world’s favorite Kazakh journalist whose cultural learnings of America brought untold mirth to millions at the expense of those who’re a little bit redneck/homophobic/anti-Semitic/douchey.

Defining moment: Leading the rodeo crowd in a stirring rendition of “Throw The Jew Down The Well”.

Quote: “You telling me the man who try to put a rubber fist in my anus was a homosexual?”