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Top 12 Favorite Male Characters in Film

Let's admit it, men are pretty cool, which is probably why we have an international holiday dedicated to them. Therefore, in honor of the auspicious occasion that was International Men's Day yesterday, I have compiled a list of my favorite male characters in Film. The following list has no limits except that the characters are male and completely fictional, so you will not see any biopics referenced here. The following characters can be villains, heroes, sidekicks, bit-parts, any fictional male Character from a film that I find interesting in some way or another. Enjoy!

12) John Gibbons from My Cousin Vinny: Most of you probably have no idea who I am talking about here. And to be honest, I had to look up his name too. But in the beginning of the film My Cousin Vinny, Vinny (played by Joe Pesci) is proving himself to possess less than average skills as a criminal defense lawyer. When one of the defendants tests out the public defender, John Gibbons (played by Austin Pendleton), we expect a dignified demonstration of undeniable proof that the defendants are innocent. Instead we get the following opening statement: "Ladies and gentlemen of the j-j-j-j-juh...uh, jury ahh...". He stutters like mad, asks the most pointless questions to the witnesses, and claims that this is an improvement from his previous years of performance. For the brief five minutes that he is on screen, he gives some of the best laughs of the film, and since my first viewing, he is the character my family and I will forever quote the most. So Mr. Gibbons, you have an enthusiastic spot on this list of Top 12 Male Characters.

11) Jefferson Smith from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: By the end of this movie, how do you not want to give this guy a bear hug then tell him that humanity is better than Washington D.C.? He is similar to Desmond Doss in his ideals, that he wants to help save the world by fixing a piece of it. He is naive in his ambition which is admirable in a town so cynical as D.C., but has strength in determination to match any dirty politician. When the politicians see this determination in him, particularly in the last third, they want to remain condescending to his kind nature, but possibly see a bit of themselves in them. No matter who is president, I wish there were more Jefferson Smith's in Washington D.C., and this film gives me hope that they might be out there, even if they don't make the news.

10) Harold Hill from The Music Man: Professor Harold Hill is the role that Robert Preston was born to play. Harold Hill is quick on his feet and enjoys his life of eating up every precious moment of manipulation. He is not a cunning, Machiavellian type, if anything he is an optimist, the kind of guy you would have wanted to be friends with in high school. Conning people into starting a fictitious boy's band is barely a job to him, but more his greatest love (even more than Marian the Librarian). He is the kind of character who you want to dislike for the crimes he is committing, but he is having such a good time doing it that you can't help but enjoy the ride. Hence, he has been on this mental list of mine my whole musical-loving life.

9) Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange: I am turning into a broken record, but once again I typically find villains and antiheroes the most intriguing of the majority of films I see. There is always variety to them for their sympathetic backgrounds, enjoyment of the evil deeds they commit, or ability to go overboard with carrying out a point of view you can ever-so-minimally connect with. Alex DeLarge is no exception. He is an evil "malchick" who spends the first act of A Clockwork Orange raping, beating, and murdering random people for sick enjoyment. If Alex were in a Disney movie, he would break into song about how good it feels to be bad.  By the third act of the film, he has undergone an experiment that conditions him to become sick when he thinks about harming another human being. His passion and sick will for living make him one of the best antiheroes I have seen in a film, but his representation of questions on moral choice, the purpose of classical conditioning, and the benefits and cons to societal conformity set him apart. Alex does not give an easy answer to any of the aforementioned issues, which I personally think makes for an intriguing character. Life is not black and white, it is millions of shades of gray and Alex's portrayal of that puts him on this list today.

8) Colonel Hans Landa and Lieutenant Aldo Raine from Inglourious Basterds: I am aware that I am cheating with this here, but it is with good reason. First of all, Inglourious Basterds is one of the few films where I am equally intrigued by the protagonist and the antagonist. Aldo Raine and Hans Landa, in a plethora of ways, are two sides of the same coin. They both have drives that they relish in with delicious, sadistic delight; it gets to the point where they even wear the same smile when about to hurt their enemies. They do not spell out what they are thinking, which makes their strategies for getting what they want stomach-dropping in their unpredictable nature. I am rooting for Aldo Raine (of course) but I know I would shit my pants if I met him in real life. Hans Landa I am not rooting for (of course), but he would yield the same result if he just said my name in person.

7) Llewyn Davis from Inside Llewyn Davis: I know this character has the cliched "tortured musician" thing going for him, but what sets him apart is the fact that his character communicates almost solely through his music, and that music has the primary purpose of telling musical folklore. Oscar Isaac, the man who plays Llewyn Davis, stated in an interview that he felt the character was fairly "skeletal" upon reading the dialogue alone; then when the story came together with the music, every weakness, every love, every speck of shame and wonder that resides in the tiniest of mental corners came alive for Isaac, and he was able to play this character with a depth that few actors could have brought to it. Llewyn Davis is the kind of character whose head I want to crack open and look inside. He is the personification of the idea of a starving artist, pouring his heart out and getting it shot down at every turn. I felt for this man and wanted desperately to see life cut him some semblance of a break already. Since there are so many layers to an already surfaced interesting character, Llewyn Davis easily makes my list of most interesting male characters in film.

6) Aladdin and Jafar from Aladdin: In general, Aladdin is one of those movies that puts me in a better mood whenever I watch it. I find the animation bright and gorgeous, the songs are fantastic, and the characters are fun and hilarious. A big reason I feel this way is because of Aladdin and Jafar, the protagonist and antagonist of the picture. Once again, I know that I am cheating a bit by putting two men in the same slot (heh heh, that's what she said...) but I find them equally intriguing, which is a rarity for me as I usually favor the villain in film. Aladdin and Jafar in a few respects are two sides of the same coin, both want to gain more control in their lives than they feel they have, and both are clever and charismatic as hell. The climax when they have a physical followed by the more exciting battle of wits is hilarious as well as suspenseful, and seeing these two opposite ends of the same spectrum crash together puts a smile on every time I watch it. So Aladdin and Jafar, you keep doing what you do best!

5) Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird: I am sure none of you are surprised that Atticus Finch ended up on this list. Atticus is the epitome of integrity, he defends a man accused of a heinous crime never blinking at the difference in race. He does it because it is his job then stays because it is the right thing to do. He recognizes that the world is full of color in terms of race, but all he cares to see and show is the character of the individuals he represents whether those individuals are his clients or his own children. He does not make grand speeches, only small gestures that add up to grand change. For all of these reasons and more, he is a classic strong character in literature and film.

4) Roat from Wait Until Dark: Given that my favorite characters in film tend to be the villains, it is no surprise that Roat made this list. He invades the home of the leading lady, then demands she say "Please" when forcing her to give him what he is looking for. When that scene happened, I have not felt more violated for a character since the first scene between Mary MacGregor and Archibald Cunningham in Michael Caton-Jones' Rob Roy. Roat's delight, his sneaky ability to lock down control, and his utter confidence made me squirm with discomfort and fear. He is the only villain I have seen in a movie who made me question as a viewer if the hero/heroine, in this case Audrey Hepburn, would make it out of the situation alive. For that alone, he easily makes this list as one of my favorite male characters.

3) Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady: If you have read my blog before, then you probably know that My Fair Lady is one of my all time favorite movies with Professor Henry Higgins (played by Rex Harrison) being a big reason for that. He is snarky, he is hilarious, he is intelligent, and he is blunt. He would never have any cause to tell someone that he misses them unless he had an honest reason to, so when he asks Eliza not to leave him at the end of the movie, it personally touches my soul. If a typical musical male lead told me he loves me, I would not help but to remember in the back of my mind that he is romanticizing romance itself rather than loving me personally. But with Henry Higgins, a career man who has blatant disinterest in romance, if he told me he loved me, that would touch my heart because I know he would be speaking from his. He is a character I want to be friends with; a mere three hours with him and I feel similar to Eliza as his student, like I am not knowledgeable enough and yet have the potential to be.

2) Antonio Salieri from Amadeus: I know that this adaptation of Peter Shaffer's play is less-than-precise in its historical accuracy. I know. But the Amadeus portrayal of Salieri (played by the sensational F. Murray Abraham) encompasses the backstabbing, cut throat world of the Classical Music Period, while being consumed throughout the course of the movie by jealousy. He worships the music of his counterpart Mozart with such articulate love that it is parallel to describing a religious out-of-body experience, and yet grows to despise God, whom he once devoted himself to, for giving this gift of music to an infant in a grown man's body. Salieri is a sympathetic, tragic, despicable man who manages to achieve the combination of making an audience hope his music is remembered by the end while simultaneously hoping to see it buried deep in the pauper's grave in the stead of Mozart's body.

1) Judge Claude Frollo from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame: I know that I have talked to death about this character, I know that everyone who loves this film has said everything there is to say about him, but I feel like I have something new to say this time. I recently read the Victor Hugo novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame for the first time, finding Archdeacon Frollo terrifying, gripping, and provocative in equal intensity though differing actions. In both the book and Disney movie, Frollo is a man in a powerful position who goes mad from religious dilemma when he falls in lust for La Esmeralda. In both the novel and the Disney movie, he will go to any deadly length to possess her for himself. And in both the novel and the Disney movie, he possesses an abusive power over Quasimodo that no one else can and to some extent, is proven correct that the world would react harshly to Quasimodo's appearance. After reading the book, Frollo officially earned the title of one of my favorite characters of all time. The reason that the Disney interpretation of this character is on the list is because while in the book, everyone except for Quasimodo, is a piece in the collective disgrace of humanity, Disney's Frollo must bear the responsibility of embodying sin and the obsession of invading someone's existence rather than enhancing it. In any other movie attempting this feat, the protagonists versus Frollo would be painted very black and white (Frollo is bad because racism, everyone else is good because not racism). The fact that Disney's portrayal of the character achieves this while also remaining sympathetic, quietly threatening, then deadly in his follow-through, makes him a character that I am more and more intrigued by every time I watch the movie and think about the book. 

This post first appeared on Art Scene State, please read the originial post: here

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Top 12 Favorite Male Characters in Film


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