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The Top 10 Coolest Movie Characters of 2003


Compiled by: Jack Foley

EVERY year, Hollywood throws up a number of colourful personalities we would love to be, or know, in real life.

Perhaps the coolest of cool characters are reserved for the likes of Steve McQueen, in Bullitt or The Great Escape, Clint Eastwood, in his Spaghetti Western persona, or George Clooney or Brad Pitt, in their Ocean's Eleven guise.

But 2003 conjured up several memorable turns, including the Lord of the Rings crew (and Legolas, Aragorn and Gandalf especially), and Frank the Tank, of Old School fame. So here are our ten favourites...

1) Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean)
Reason:
For almost single-handedly breathing new life into the pirate movie genre, and saving the Summer blockbuster from the endless tide of special-effects driven sequels.
Cool moments: Depp shamelessly hogs virtually every scene he is in, but stand-out moments include his opening jaunt around Port Royal, his drunken attempt to woo Keira Knightley while stranded on a desert island, and, best of all, his response to any woman who slaps him around the face.
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2) The Bride (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill: Volume One)
Reason:
For helping to ensure that Quentin Tarantino remains the king of ultra-stylised violence, and for making the Samurai sword this year’s weapon of choice.
Cool moments: The opening domestic brawl with Vivica A Fox’s Copperhead, as well as her handling of ‘Fuck Buck’ in the hospital, rate highly enough; but the quintessential cool moment has to be her ruthlessly efficient massacre of Lucy Liu’s Crazy 88 at The House of Blue Leaves. Do movies get any more exciting than this?
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3) DEA Agent Sands (Johnny Depp, Once Upon A Time in Mexico)
Reason:
Desperado was cool, but Once Upon A Time in Mexico seemed cooler, despite a jumbled premise, thanks to Depp’s mesmerising turn as the DEA agent who conducted business without a shred of conscience, yet who remained likeable despite being despicable.
Cool moments: Telling a child to ‘fuck off’ after being approached for a donation gets things rolling nicely, before the comic double-dealing begins, but it's the gloriously overblown finale, in which a blind Depp takes on allcomers, which is an absolute blast, ensuring his place in cult status.
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4) Bruno, The dog (sketched character, Belleville-Rendezvous)
Reason:
It’s not often that an overweight, and train-obsessed pup can be called a hero, but Bruno goes to extraordinary lengths to save his beloved owner, with the help of the equally unlikely Madame Souza, in Sylvain Chomet’s excellent movie.
Cool moments: Doubling as a tyre rates highly, as is his attempt to escape from the frogs’ leg dinner prepared by the triplets of Belleville, but for sheer cool status, paddling across the ocean in a pedalo has to rate as one of the year’s finest moments, as the chase begins for his owner.
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5) Frank Abagnale Jnr (Leonardo DiCaprio, Catch Me If You Can)
Reason:
DiCaprio excelled in Spielberg's entertaining true story, about a successful con artist who managed to pass himself off as several identities, including a pilot, doctor, and, latterly, a lawyer. Do you concur?
Cool moments: Getting one over Tom Hanks' bumbling FBI agent in a hotel room comes high on the list, but with so many cons to choose from, it really has to be his seduction of Jennifer Garner's high-class temptress. Sheer class.
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6) Igby Slocumb (Kieran Culkin, Igby Goes Down): Reason: For taking teen angst and coming-of-age insecurity and making a mockery of them. Igby gives as good as he gets, even when constantly being beaten down by everyone around him, making him a brat worth rooting for, in a world that you wouldn’t want to inhabit.
Cool moments: Whether trading insults with Clare Danes’ equally socially-inept Sookie, or mixing it with Jeff Goldblum’s slimy father-figure, Igby consistently holds his own; but the most enduring image comes in the form of him walking along the street, bruised and psychologically battered, to the timeless strains of Coldplay’s Don't Panic.
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7) Sean Bateman (James Van der Beek, The Rules of Attraction)
Why?
Brother of American Psycho, Patrick, and all-round womaniser, Van der Beek showed a darker side to his pretty boy, Dawson's Creek image in Roger Avary's sexually-charged movie.
Cool moments: Drug dealing, motorbike riding, hanging out at parties, snogging women... what's not to like? Rock 'n' roll, dude!
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8) Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix, Buffalo Soldiers)
Why?
Described in certain quarters as 'the dubious love child of Sergeant Bilko', Phoenix's irrepresible Ray Elwood took on his military bosses and consistently won, no matter what the cost to himself and those around him. As a pro-military movie, this gleefully stuck two fingers up to the notion of patriotism.
Cool moments: Wooing and winning the daughter of his chief Army tormentor, and stealing a truckload of weapons, following a drug-fuelled tank rampage.
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9) Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind)
Reason:
Sam Rockwell turned in scene-stealing performances in this, Welcome to Collinwood and Matchstick Men, so he had to figure somewhere. And as games show host, turned CIA assassin, he provided a terrific lead performance, which considerably enlivened George Clooney's stunning directorial debut.
Cool moments: Playing the CIA game, whether seducing Julia Roberts, playing off against Rutger Hauer, or seeking tutorage from Clooney's Agency mentor.
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10) Billy Mack (Bill Nighy, Love Actually):
Reason:
For turning a knowingly cheesy Christmas record into something viewers could root for (both on film and in real-life) and for shamelessly stealing every scene he is in, in Richard Curtis’ slush-fest.
Cool moments: Appearing on TV with ‘Ant or Dec’, his radio interview, during which he confesses to shagging Britney Spears, and the video for his single, Christmas Is All Around, which attempts to parody Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love.
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