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Top 10 Movie Antiheroes

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With the passing of each week, the more I enjoy concocting these top 10s, and this week’s entry is no different. As you may have guessed from the title or header image, this top 10 will feature, in my opinion, the best antiheroes in cinema history. As always, if you feel I’ve overlooked a contestant or listed one that shouldn’t have been considered, leave all comments and questions below. I’m always looking to improve the segment and love interacting with fellow film lovers.

Every now and then there comes along a protagonist who might go off the deep end. You know, beat someone half-to-death, take pleasure in humanities destruction, or have the occasional soul erased from the face of the earth. Now, however they chose to go about there business is irrelevant. We, as cinephiles love these colourful characters for their more shady characteristics and the nonchalant way they handle things that would send normal people into spiralling depression.

Let’s do it!

Honourable Mentions: 

Severus Snape (Harry Potter series, Alan Rickman), Oh-dae Su (Oldboy, Min-sik Choi), Marv (Sin City, Mickey Rourke), Lisbeth Salander (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara), Patrick Bateman (American Psycho, Christian Bale), Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood, Daniel Day Lews), Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee, I Saw the Devil).

10: Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson)

Jules is someone who really radiates anti-heroism. Almost like a gun-slinger with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other.

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9: Charles Bronson (Bronson, Tom Hardy)

Talk about taking pleasure in abhorrent behaviour. All Bronson wanted was to fight for the sake of fighting and to become Britain’s most violent prisoner.

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8: The Driver (Drive, Ryan Gosling)

Torn between his only skill-set and doing right by his friends. The Driver may lull you in with his heartwarming nature, but make no mistake, he is ruthless and unforgiving.

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7: Tyler Durden (Fight Club, Brad Pitt)

Driven by a desire to disrupt the world and destroy his opinion of oppression. Tyler may be trying to help out his bud, but he accomplishes it in true antihero fashion.

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6: Alex (A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell)

Alex simply wants to see others suffer, whether it be through violence, mental degradation, or dominance.

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5: Leon (Leon: The Professional, Jean Reno)

An assassin with a heart of gold.

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4: Tony Montana (Scarface, Al Pacino)

Willing to do whatever is necessary to become his own interpretation of king. Tony Montana is as cold-blooded as they come.

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3: Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro)

One can’t help but feel for Travis, attempting to free the unfortunate girl sucked into prostitution. However, his sociopathic mentality, obsessions with firearms, and desire to murder is too repulsive to overlook.

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2: Henry Hill (Goodfellas, Ray Liotta)

From the beginning, we are led to believe that Hill and his fellow thugs are normal, everyday hard-working guys. However, the truth is much more sinister and ferocious.

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1: Michael Corleone (The Godfather, Al Pacino)

Although we’ve been given a veritable gaze into the Corleone family and begin to care for them. There is no denying that this mafia family will do whatever it takes to remain atop, especially Michael.

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Okay all, that’ll do it for this week’s edition of the top 10, hope you all enjoyed it. Have a great weekend!

Insomnia (2002)

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An unnerving murder investigation set in the wilderness of Alaska that transforms into a dissection of morals. Insomnia’s stunning visuals, solid performances, and unmatched direction make for a riveting film that continues to grow in merit and effectiveness upon each viewing. An adaptation of Erik Skjoldbjaerg’s film of the same title. Insomnia captures and exceeds the deprivation, haunting scenery, and confusion of the original. Directed by the illustrious Christopher Nolan. His ability to mask the, at times, dark and violent subject matter gives credit to his subtle approach and how reputable his style and thought process is. Relying significantly, and with good reason, on its talented cast to convey the vast, shady emotions and psychological complexity throughout its runtime. Insomnia is that rare picture that accomplishes more by doing less.

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In Nightmute, Alaska, a seventeen-year-old resident is found murdered. As a favour to the police chief, two Los Angeles homicide detectives are sent in to investigate. Will Dormer (Pacino) and his partner are renowned in the police world but are facing some heat in regards to a recent arrest, this puts strain on their relationship. After a few days, Dormer begins to fall victim to a severe case of Insomnia. Fighting through his extreme exhaustion and hallucinations, Dormer, his partner, and local detective Ellie Burr (Swank) continue their research until an unexpected tragedy causes everyone to become skeptical and seeking the truth.

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This is the third full-length feature directed by Nolan and it arguably holds the most significance to his career. It is the last film he directed before he took on the Batman reboot which fuelled his sky-rocket to fame. His seemingly overnight success with the Batman franchise came as a shock to some considering that Nolan had only helmed lower budget, psychological thrillers. Until Insomnia, he hadn’t really worked with any big-name actors and it’s fair to say that his ability to create grounded, intriguing, brooding pictures wasn’t enough for Warner Brothers to let Nolan decide the fate of Batman, which is backed up by their original jitters when he first approached them about Insomnia. Regardless, Insomnia was the supreme stepping-stone needed to launch Nolan into his massive celebrity.

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Having initially gone to Warner Brothers before Memento to make Insomnia, Nolan was shot down. However, after the success of Memento, they finally decided to give him a chance with Insomnia, which turned out to be Nolan’s first studio picture. Needing to showcase his control of high-profile actors and ability to handle bigger budgets, as well as larger production values, Insomnia allowed Nolan to unleash all these facets in a single effort. Insomnia really solidified Nolan as a filmmaker and ultimately allowed him to take the reigns of the highly sought after Batman reboot. If he hadn’t grabbed hold of the saga, who knows, we probably wouldn’t have other, big-budget Nolan films like Inception or his forthcoming picture, Interstellar. So, in a way, Insomnia played the biggest role in the emergence of Christopher Nolan. Yet, this begs the question, we will ever see Nolan return to his semi-noir, psychological roots?

Whether or not Insomnia is Nolan’s most underrated and under-seen piece is yet to be concluded as his first full-length, Following, is still to earn its full value.  Nevertheless, there is no arguing that Insomnia does contain Al Pacino’s most underrated performance. Insomnia also features the diverse Robin Williams and the sparsely used Hilary Swank.

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Williams easily gives the best, most inspired performance of the entire ensemble. Yet, for some odd reason, people still doubt his abilities and refuse to take him seriously, even after Good Will Hunting. Although I can assure you his portrayal of a reluctant murderer in Insomnia is much more outstanding. Swank’s bright eyes and eagerness carry her well throughout Insomnia. She elegantly captures the uninhibited, almost innocent personality needed to convey her characters drive. As for Pacino, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a finer performance. The strength of his method and relentless investment pays huge dividends in Insomnia. Pacino impeccably absorbs the never-ending sunlight and turns that energy into the confusion, disorientation, and guilt needed to power his performance.

With astounding direction, unfathomable performances, and haunting imagery. Insomnia is the farthest thing from sedating.

Insomnia: 9 out of 10.