Sometimes I think we never do anything as well as we used to. Not that I was alive to see what we used to do! I’m talking here about music and other forms of entertainment. It’s like Raul Duke’s comment from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in reference to the sixties -
“There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.”
Who can say they feel like that now? I don’t know, perhaps some people can. It’d be nice to feel like that. These days the creative floodgates are open, you can fly anywhere in the world and technology gives us the knowledge of the entire planet at our fingertips. Yet most things these days feel recycled, and we’re too P.C. for our own good.
Other times I think there’s a lot of good in the world, and while I’m still struggling to define what the “noughties” are all about (I hate this decade’s nickname by the way) there have been some really good films and iconic characters popping up in the last few years. Now that the nineties are looking and feeling richer and a little more historic, I expect in a few years I’ll also look back at the ’00s and see some sense of identity and nostalgia. At least that’s what I hope!
Here’s my list of five of cinema’s best villains from the last ten years. Feel free to comment and add your own in reply. I’d be interested – especially if you can suggest great villains in films I have yet to see! OK, here I go…
Top five villains of the ‘00s
5) The Pale Man (Doug Jones) – Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
I love old monster movies with stop-motion, and while I like some cgi, it can be and often is, overdone. I thought the nosferatu-esque Reavers in Blade 2 were cool, so when Pan’s Labyrinth popped up I went to see more Del Toro monsters. What I got was the Pale Man in one of the coolest, scariest and most well-executed sequences in modern cinema.
This horrible villain is cool because he’s basically a man in a suit playing an emaciated ghoul who eats children.
A mythology is created for him in mere seconds, and if you let him, he’ll stay with you long after the lights snuff out at night.
4) Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) – No Country For Old Men (2007)
Whatever you think of the ending, Chigurh is a damn scary villain. Sporting a questionable haircut and beefy custom-weapons, Chigurh is a cold-hearted killed played excellently by Bardem, who gives an equally brilliant performance as a charming paraplegic in The Sleep Inside.
3) Combo (Stephen Graham) – This is England (2006)
Combo exercises his demons in this beautifully crafted piece of cinema. Combo is an intense, misunderstood, uncontrollable monster who thinks he knows love.
2) Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) – 3:10 To Yuma (2007)
While 3:10 to Yuma focusses on the struggle between the outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and out-of-pocket family man Dan Evans (Christian Bale), it is Charlie Prince that really shines as Wade’s second in command – a cold blooded mad-dog. While it is difficult to place why he makes such an excellent villain – is it his cold eyes and cool clothes, his uncaring mannerisms and his calm, nasal voice or all of the above? Charlie really brings with him a sense of impending doom, he is equal parts scary and unstoppable – a potent combo.
1) The Joker (Heath Ledger) – The Dark Knight (2008)
There’s little to say about the clown prince of crime apart from that he makes for a great villain. Ledger’s unique performance is both deeply disturbing and very funny. He’s both completely mad and logical. A super villain.
Other notable cinema villains in the past few years.
Jigsaw/John (Tobin Bell) – Saw (2004)
Even with three gun dots trained on his heart and cancer killing him, John Kramer still manages a mocking look.
The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor) – Serenity (2005)
A well-spoken man of honour who is cool and calm. He knows exactly what he is – a monster.
Ji-tae Yu – OldBoy (2003)
Dae-su (Min-sik Choi) was a whisker away from getting his name up here as the film’s best anti-hero/villain, but the obsessive, homicidal Woo-jin Lee (Ji-tae Yu) stole it from under his nose.
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