It’s 2016 already. ALREADY. I mean, it’s four days in now! Pop culture fanatic that I am, last night, I thought long and hard about listing movies I liked, movies I hated, movies I STILL haven’t seen (Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter, The Witch, Goodnight Mommy — I’m looking at/for/towards you all!), movies that were overhyped and overplayed, and so on. I even had a list made up, but the list was so long and convoluted, I didn’t know what to do with it, and who am I to say, anyway? I mean, one man’s Ex Machina is another’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. So since I had such a good time listing awful TV characters, I thought I’d stick with that general premise because there were a number of wonderful, notable film characters this year.
So here they are…in no particular order, my favorite film characters of 2015:
Warning: Spoilers. Yeah. That will happen.
1. Vladislav (What We Do in the Shadows, played by Jermaine Clement)
A torturer, lover of silks and satins, heartbroken wretch, Vladislav had some of the best lines in the hilarious New Zealand mockumentary (and, incidentally, my favorite movie of 2015) about a group of idiotic vampires stuck together in a “flatting situation” (they were flatmates, in other words).
2. Imperator Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road, played by Charlize Theron)
Heroic war rig driver, protector, leader, warrior…all around mother of badassery…in a Mad Max film. ’nuff said.
3. Ava (Ex Machina, played by Alicia Vikander)
Ava is the beautiful, fragile, terrifying A.I. creation programmed to captivate unsuspecting tech geek schmo, Caleb (Domhall Gleeson). I didn’t care for Ex Machina. To me, it was a contemporary Frankenstein for pervy douchebags. However, Vikander’s portrayal of fiercely cognizant sexbot Ava was mesmerizing. Like Caleb, I couldn’t look away, and I really wanted her to escape, too.
4. John Brooder (Bone Tomahawk, played by Matthew Fox)
If I had to include a best of list, Bone Tomahawk would be on it, for sure. A Coen-esque western-horror hybrid, Bone Tomahawk had a tight cluster of weird, gritty characters. The gentleman Brooder arguably stole the show for me though with his dandified white suit-and-white-horse ensemble and prickly one-liners. Who would’ve thought Matthew Fox could be…entertaining?
5. Mark Watney (The Martian, played by Matt Damon)
I’m not into the whole hard sci-fi drama designed with STEM fanatics and techie geek squads in mind, so The Martian, essentially Cast Away in space, didn’t seem as if it would appeal to me. However, I pleasantly surprised by it. I mean, who the hell DIDN’T like Watney’s character? Guy was immensely likeable, keeping his dry sense of humor under the most dire of circumstances.
6. Harry Hart (Kingsman: The Secret Service, played by Colin Firth)
“Manners maketh the man,” or so says Kingsman’s bespectacled, tailored super spy Harry Hart (what is this, the year of the badass gentleman?), right before he goes into full-blast battle mode, taking down an entire gang of lager louts. It’s not the norm for the likes of Firth who always seems to be typecast as the Bland Brit, and it’s plainly evident he enjoyed the shit out of playing Hart.
7. The Unmarried Mother (Predestination, played by Sarah Snook)
Predestination is a time-traveling mystery, one in which the answers are clearly evident, but you don’t want to know them; you don’t want to believe they’re true. It’s also a riveting character study primarily involving the complex secondary protagonist, the Unmarried Mother. Alas, I can’t talk about this one much due to the constant string of twists presented. Sarah Snook is phenomenal though in such a complicated role.
8. Anne Martin (Slow Learners, played by Sarah Burns)
While the premise of Slow Learners wasn’t all that original (two nerdy pals have a summer of “change” and wind up falling in love), Anne was a character I couldn’t easily forget if I tried…and this is coming from a gal who wasn’t overly impressed with 2015’s romantic comedy selection a la Trainwreck. Anne takes Perpetually Awkward to its extremes and makes it wholly her own.
9. Gwen Koh (Advantageous, played by Jacqueline Kim…and Freya Adams as Gwen 2.0)
If I’m to watch hardcore sci-fi, I want it tangible. Jennifer Phang’s dystopian Advantageous, another of my favorite films of 2015, is depressing as hell and all too familiar in its (awfully contemporary) premise involving class inequities and youth culture. Single, working mother Gwen undergoes quite a physical and emotional transformation, sacrificing her own actual self for the good of her daughter’s future. Gwen’s ordeal is just heart-wrenching.
10. Rey, Finn, & Poe (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, played by Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Issac)
Let’s just get it out of the way…Of course I bloody well enjoyed The Force Awakens. It pretended as if the horrid initial films from 1999-2005 didn’t exist, and it kept all of the charm and wry humor from the beloved original bunch (and Harrison Ford, thank you very much). This new cast of characters is as lively and fun as their soon-to-be-retiring predecessors. Rey is the perfect female jedi-and-pilot-to-be I (and all of my girl friends) have long since been waiting for; ex-stormtrooper Finn, in all of his bumbling boyishness, is brave and endearing; and I’d go so far as to say X-Wing pilot leader Poe is, perhaps, a bit of a revamped Han Solo, quick with the grins and quips (And just how goddamned cute is Oscar Issac here anyway, making up for his loathsome scientist character in Ex Machina).
“It” (It Follows, played by a bunch of actors)
There is probably nothing worse than an STD in the form of an entity that can look like anyone and will stalk you until it eventually catches up with you and then brutally kills you.
The “Whore of a Door” (The Hateful Eight, played by a rickety wooden door)
The entire cast of Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight was unsurprisingly fantastic (Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins were the standouts, imho), but the most notable character here, to me, was the rickety door to Minnie’s Haberdashery where the characters’ worlds collided (and, eventually, exploded in a vomit-and-bulletstorm of blood). That damned door had to be nailed shut every time to keep the blizzard from coming in.
Disgust (Inside Out, voiced by Mindy Kaling)
I am in the minority in that while I enjoyed Inside Out, I wasn’t gaga-nuts over it. It had its adorable moments though. Mindy Kaling as the prissy “Disgust” wasn’t in the film as much as I would’ve liked (Sadness and Joy were, obviously, the lead emotions during their host protagonist’s journey), and I love the hell out of Kaling.
The Dagmar Clan (We Are Still Here, played by Guy Gane III, Elissa Dowling, and Zorah Burress)
The haunted house film We Are Still Here is another of my favorites of 2015. Like It Follows, it takes its dear, sweet time getting to the monsters. However, when we’re finally introduced to the scorched, vengeful Dagmar family in their house, it’s quite a nasty ride, and their presence is just…so…creepy.