Friday, April 03, 2009

Top Ten Film Characters

I was tagged for this meme by Dave of Victim of the Time (thankyouuuuu!).

When I thought about what my ten favourite film characters ever might be, I was bieseged by many of Bette Davis' creations, and a couple of Maggie Smith's. It was hard to narrow the whole thing down, and it turns out that Bette and Maggie don't actually feature here. I still don't think this really represents a concrete, researched list, but I love these ten characters immeasurably. Here they are:-

Kat Stratford in Ten Things I Hate About You

I'm not sure that Julia Stiles' Kat Stratford is exactly the kind of shrew that William Shakespeare originally envisioned, but I'd like to think that, if alive today (wouldn't that be cause for concern?) he'd marvel at the representation of his wild female in the modern-day adaptation, 10 Things I Hate About You. I have passionate feelings for this film (see its
entry in my personal canon for further proof), and it's largely because of the uber-bitch activity of Ms. Stratford, who exercises quips you really wish you'd written yourself. Someone that strives to be different and distinctly anti-social, Kat's idea of a compliment is "You're not as vile as I thought you were", and despite engaging in romance for much of the film, never loses her edge or bite.

Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins

The world's greatest nanny fulfils her promise to leave town when the wind changes, and we'd expect nothing less of a woman that is so assured, affronted, and "practically perfect in every way". This never waivers and yet her feelings for the children are always present and strong, which is probably down to Julie Andrew's fantastic performance. Poppins achieves stability through madness, the secret pleasure she exudes from lucid imagination and trifle outings remaining the most far-away, untouchable element of the woman, and perhaps the most valuable.

Miranda Priestley in The Devil Wears Prada

"This... 'stuff'? Oh... ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don't know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise, it's not lapis, it's actually cerulean. You're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn't it, who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of 8 different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic casual corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff."

And the words on the page do not even do this speech justice.

Mr. Grey in Secretary

I'll leave my sexual habits out of this but, needless to say, James Spader completely got me going here. I also love that you never know Mr. Grey's first name, since it shouldn't be, and isn't important. Grey meets his match in Gyllenhaal's ultimate submissive, and promptly begins to up his game. He grows more and more clinical and downright horny as their relationship escalates, and it's hella fun to watch him call the shots.

Sally Bowles in Cabaret

There aren't many characters that feel as genuine as Sally Bowles. Life is a cabaret for her, after all, and so the willingness to be free overcomes the moments in life which could surely get her down. I'm nowhere near as brave as Sally, but I can totally relate to her attitude towards life. Retrospectively, my viewing of Cabaret kind of represented a kick in the head, a remonstration of "What are you doing? Why aren't you going out and getting sloshed? Why aren't you having sex?" etc. etc. etc. There are no drunks or whores where Sally's concerned, and why should there be? It's all human nature.

Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind

I could talk about Scarlett O'Hara all of the day, and all of the night (cue Billie Piper) as her permanent facade is maybe the most enchanting characterisation that's ever graced the silver screen. She's jealous, elitist, devious, calculating, breathtakingly charming, admirable for seizing opportunities at the drop of a hat, and yet kind of pathetic in her narrowness and unable or unwilling to grasp how her actions might affect those around her. There's a stunning audacity to Scarlett that's both her outlet for success and the reason for her inevitable downfall. "I'll think about that tomorrow"... A-MA-ZING.

Scrat in the Ice Age Series

Oh come on! Don't tell me you haven't laughed at those snippets in the Ice Age pics (one of the few reasons to see these films), and marvelled at how predictably relentless and devoted this little creature is. Nobody's ever loved an acorn that much.

Susan Vance in Bringing Up Baby

Q: Would a man really fall in love with a girl who ransacked his wedding, lumbered him with a leopard, and single-handedly dismantled his relationship?

A: He would if it was Katharine Hepburn. Susan Vance is one of the wildest women you're ever likely to observe, and goes from catastrophe to catastrophe so matter-of-factly, with barely a pang of real consideration, and with such a wonderful spirit of adventure, that you'd go through anything with this woman.

Tracy Flick in Election

"Pick Flick" is the slogan of choice for Election's resident smartster; a ploy that demonstrates her insane ambition and hints that she's used to getting exactly what she wants. Flick is driven by this ambition, consumed by it, blinded by it, and the parodical nature of her success-hungry teen achieves a nifty social observation. Something ruthless bubbles beneath the desire to succeed.

Wadsworth in

As the orchestrator of events, Tim Curry's Wadsworth is required to dash around explaining things for long periods of this brilliant comedy. Wadsworth repeats himself often but makes each instance a little different and equally hilarious. Murder mysteries don't have someone to lay things on the line, otherwise they wouldn't really be mysterious, would they? So it's great that Clue's kinda anti-convention works both as a mystery and a satire, and that the frantic nature of Wadsworth's drive and motivation in the film acts as suspense-building, tireless excitement.

Time to tag: RJ, Keith, Shep, Alex, and Yaseen, do your worst.


Clau said...

i think scarlett o'hara is hte greatest character ever, cool blog!
regards from chile.

Anonymous said...

I too love the character of E. Edward Grey. When director Steven Shainberg asked actor James Spader what the E. stood for he answered, "Edward, of course." This is not necessarily the case, but in Mr. Spader's mind that was his character's first name!

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