Everyone has their favorite movie characters. Could be a hero, villain, sidekick, or love interest. There are so many one could name. Instead of doing my personal favorite characters, let us discuss the ones whose minds are a living example of a Rubix Cube. These are my Top 10 Complex Characters in Movie History. As always, not the best overall movie or performance. This is about the crazy characters.
10. Michael Corleone (“The Godfather” Saga):
In the original all-time classic “The Godfather” it appeared the center of the Corleone family would go through Marlon Brando’s famous take as Don Vito Corleone. Turns out the crux of the epic saga was his son Michael. An army veteran returning home for his sister’s wedding with his new pretty American girlfriend along (Diane Keaton), the young man never wanted to be a part of his family’s mafia reality. Unfortunately, the world that his family’s lifestyle is involved with sucks him in and the innocent young man turns into an even more ruthless killer than the previous Corleone generation. From his first murder in an Italian restaurant to seeing his first wife blown up in a car, to having his brother killed, Michael goes from war hero to top brass mafioso in a matter of years. And what makes him complex is, to be honest, who can blame him.
9. Marge Gunderson (“Fargo”):
This entire list could be compiled of characters from movies made by the Coen Brothers. For me, the original “Fargo” is their opus and their best character ever written was Frances McDormand in her portrayal of a pregnant cop trying to solve a double homicide and kidnappining outside of a small mid-western town. Combined with a must have morning coffee, an old Asian friend from high school that always loved her, and discovering a man being shoved into a wood chipper, Marge never keeps things normal despite always seeming as though they are.
8. Genie (“Aladdin”):
When Disney made the choice to cast Robin Williams as the genie in the lamp in the 1992 animated classic, they unleashed a dynamo on the silver screen with “Aladdin”. Children were used to stereotypical characters in their animated fair. Through voice acting that is legendary to this day, Williams created the most unpredictable animated character ever. This eccentric version of a member from The Blue Man Group always has a trick up his sleeve while also sticking to a strict three rule code of wishes he cannot grant. From finding ways to help his homeless master “Aladdin” achieving a unique approach to getting the princess of his dreams, to being a slave to a tyrant in Jafar, the genie always has a plan. One never knows what crazy idea he will come up with next.
7. Jules Winnfeld (“Pulp Fiction”):
Samuel L. Jackson is known for a swagger that is impossible not to recognize. His supporting role in director Quentin Tarantino’s breakout hit “Pulp Fiction” (in my opinion the most important American movie produced in the 1990’s) was the highlight in an ensemble cast of insanity in the world of Hollywood gangsters. Jules opens with learning about what a 1/4 pounder with cheese hamburger is called in Europe before killing multiple dumbass white guys. Then he becomes a man whose plan is to simply ‘Walk the Earth’ instead of living the gangster life. Add in an accidental kid getting shot on the road in his car that requires cleanup and a stick up at a restaurant where Jules calms the situation with his wallet labeled ‘BAD MOTHA FUCKER’ and you’ve got a complexed killer in which one is not sure wether to cross or do what he says.
6. Kym (“Rachel Getting Married”):
I will admit whole heartedly this pick is a homer. Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of a severally messed up woman being let out of her rehab facility to see “Rachel Getting Married” is not the standard joyous fair on paper. Kym is a drug addict who is not held accountable for her poor decisions 9 out of 10 times. She is a meteor coming back into the old home as a leper in the otherwise perfect family after having made an awful mistake that resulted in a tragedy. While striving to do the right thing during her brief vacation from rehab to spend time with loved ones, Kym is both incapable of making the right decision while also capable of loving her family, particularly her sister Rachel. Even if she makes a series of awful speeches along the way.
5. Death (“The Seventh Seal”):
The grim reaper is one hell of a concept, pun intended. Legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman made arguably his masterpiece with 1957’s “The Seventh Seal”. A non-chronological tale, “Seal” tells the story of a knight played by Max Von Sydow traveling home from the Crusades while the Black Plague is reaping through Europe. Along his journey, Sydow runs into the one and only Grim Reaper a.k.a. ‘Death’ who challenges him to an ongoing game of chess for the knight’s soul. Death has been represented in numerous iterations. Here, Bergman shows him as a metaphorical knock on the door which was even parodied in the second “Bill & Ted” movie. No matter ones beliefs, we are all gonna die. It simply comes down to a chess match.
4. Ten Plus Characters, Denis Lavant (“Holy Motors”):
“Holy Motors” can be described with a very simple phrase; completely insane. French director Leos Carax crafted one of the most original odes to cinema with his 2012 mind job that had even the biggest of film geeks scratching their heads. At the heart of it all was Denis Lavant, a popular French actor as well as performance artist. His character, which is never given a specific title, travels around the city doing various vignettes which represent multiple aspects of movies. From a mind-bending green screen sequence to an epic accordion scene, Lavant covers all of the strange corners of storytelling. You have to see this man’s performance for yourself.
3. Loretta Castorini “Moonstruck”:
Almost nothing is more complex in this world than love, especially when you grew up in a large Italian family. Cher is not really known for her acting skills being more than mediocre at best, but in this one performance in the 1987 romantic comedy “Moonstruck” she hits it out of the park. Loretta is a widowed bookkeeper in Brooklyn, New York. Her family doesn’t want her to become an old maid, so she agrees to marry another Italian in Johnny Cammareri. Then things get complicated when she falls for Johnny’s younger brother Ronny, played by Nicolas Cage. The way she handles both her love life as well as her batshit crazy family is comedic gold with a heart behind it led by legendary director Norman Jewison. Some who haven’t seen “Moonstruck” may be hesitant because it’s a rom-com starring Cher. Say that to me and I will recreate the famous scene; walk up and slap you in the face and yell “SNAP OUT OF IT!”.
2. Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinese):
While the titular character is fascinating in his own right, the most complex journey in 1994’s “Forrest Gump” has got to be that of Gary Sinese’s bitter portrayal of Lieutenant Dan Taylor. We first meet him in Vietnam when Forrest is sent there on his first military outing. Lt. Dan is a hard nosed leader who takes no bullshit and always carries a cigar. After a surprise attack, he is badly wounded and loses both of his legs. Dan despises Forrest for saving him as he wanted to die in battle. Years later, Dan runs into Gump and they have an interesting New Years Eve night involving two hookers in which Dan throws them out when one calls Forrest stupid. More time passes and Dan shows up to be the first mate on Forrest’s new shrimping boat. After a storm in which the former Lt. literally has a screaming match with God, Bubba Gump Shrimp thrives and they become millionaires. Dan’s journey comes full circle when he finds peace thanks to new prosthetic legs and a kind and beautiful Asian wife. Now that’s a full life.
1. Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell):
From the opening frame of Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 masterpiece“A Clockwork Orange” an iconic figure was born in Alex. Dressing up as the Malcolm McDowell character on halloween is still popular to this day. And boy what a total maniac this guy is. Set in a strange alternate near future where milk bars are the hot hang out spot, Alex and his three droogs love going around raping women and doing a bit of the old “Ultraviolence” as he refers to it. Beating up on homeless people and other rival gangs make for a jolly evening. When he is ultimately betrayed by his minions and arrested Alex “finds” religion, meaning his favorite parts of the Bible are about killing. He is put into a radical new government brainwashing program that makes him feel sick whenever he even sees sex or violence once he is released back into the real world. Due to his unfortunate circumstance, Alex stumbles upon an old man’s house where his crew crippled him and raped his wife right in front of him years earlier. Once the man realizes who Alex is he very nearly kills him. What I always found so fascinating about this character is what he represents. In the end, doctors reverse the brainwashing process because of a societal outcry. Citizens would rather have a maniac set free than have the government alter minds.