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The Top 10 Coolest Movie Characters of 2004


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 2004 conjured up several memorable turns, including the likes of Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa and Tom Cruise in Collateral.

1) Willie T Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton, Bad Santa:
Reason:
The biggest anti-hero of them all, Stokes swears at kids, pisses himself in shopping malls and robs stores at Christmas to finance his drinking habit. What's not to like?
Cool moments: Teaching his child protege how to defend himself in the boxing ring, or laying into a toy donkey after a particularly huge hangover are just two of the special moments on show
Review l Thornton talks Stokes

2) Creasy (Denzel Washington, Man on Fire)
Reason:
Sneaking just ahead of Jason Bourne is Denzel Washington's Creasy, a relentless, broken-hearted figure who really does take-no-prisoners when it comes to avenging the kidnapping of the little girl who taught him it was okay to live agin.
Cool moments: His merciless torture of one of the primary suspects in the kidnapping is a good starting point, but such extremes are neatly offset by his quieter moments spent with Dakota Fanning's Pita. He can be cold, but he also has heart, and is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice if necessary.
Review l Feature

3) Jason Bourne (Matt Damon, The Bourne Supremacy)
Reason:
He may be an amnesia-ridden former assassin, but the way in which he ruthlessly sets about discovering the truth behind his past and avenging the death of his lover is as cool and efficient as they come.
Cool moments: Fighting off a fellow assassin with a rolled up magazine is pretty impressive for starters, but his interplay with Joan Allen's CIA head and his climactic car chase mean there are few cooler customers than Jason Bourne.
Review l Matt Damon interview

4) Nameless (Jet Li, Hero)
Reason:
Jet Li stars as a mystical fighter who has captured the imagination of a nation by single-handedly defeating the trio of resistance fighters who were believed to represent the biggest threat to Daoming Chen’s king, Quin. Given that the fight sequences rate among the most stunning of recent times, what's not to like?
Cool moments: His opening tussle with one assassin, in a rain-soaked tample, sets the tone, while the way in which he deals with an arrow attack simply has to be seen to be believed. But everything Li does seems balletic.
Review l Feature

5) The Bride (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill: Volume 2)
Reason:
Having dispensed with two of her five main enemies in Volume One, The Bride had to change tactics somewhat to tackle the remaining members of the Deadly Viper Gang. She did so with typical relish, despite the odd harrowing moment for herself.
Cool moments: Her almighty bitch tussle with Darryl Hannah's Elle Driver rates as the movie's highpoint, but her final meeting with David Carradine's Bill are terrific, as is her interplay with Michael Madsen's washed-up Budd.
Review l Feature

6) Vincent (Tom Cruise, Collateral)
Why?
In what proved to be a good year for anti-heroes and villains, Tom Cruise took a trip to the dark side as a hitman who kidnaps a cab driver in Michael Mann's excellent crime drama.
Cool moments: His 'yo homies' response to a couple of gang-bangers who hold up Jamie Foxx's cab drew instant cheers from cinema audiences, while his cool manner in dispensing with Barry Shabaka Henley's jazz trumpeter, not to mention his nightclub gun battle, place Vincent at the top of the pile in the cool stakes.
Review l Feature

6) Charles Lane (Peter Sarsgaard, Shattered Glass): Reason: Speaking as a former reporter/sub-editor on a local newspaper, Peter Sarsgaard's Charles Lane is the sort of editor every journalist craves. Lane was editor of New Republic magazine at the time Stephen Glass published his made-up articles and fought tooth and nail to protect his publication, his reputation and the reputation of the industry. Sarsgaard's performance ought to serve as an inspiration to anyone considering media as a profession.
Cool moments: There's no one particular moment when Sarsgaard shines, rather it is what he brings to the role and the compassion, common sense and anger he shows at various points, in order to get the truth behind Glass's lies.
Review l Director's statement

8) Fin (Peter Dinklage, The Station Agent)
Why?
He may be small in stature, but Fink, the dwarf at the centre of the delightful Station Agent, is as big-hearted as they come, and his friendship with Bobby Cannavale's ice-cream salesman (another cool customer) is beautifully played.
Cool moments: Jumping out of the way of Patricia Clarkson’s oncoming vehicle (twice), or his knowing look when her estranged husband pops by one morning are two examples of Fin's laidback cool, while his desperate attempts to help Clarkson late on are wonderfully played.
Review l Interview

9) Shelly Caplow (Alec Baldwin, The Cooler): He may have been the villain of the piece, but it's testament to Alec Baldwin's portrayal of him that sleazy casino owner, Shelly Caplow, remained one of the most memorable creations of the year - a man capable of dastardly deeds, yet who retained an element of sympathy.
Cool moments: The aggressive way he deals with anyone who dares to cheat him frequently impressed as much as shocked, but his interplay with William H Macy was always terrific, as were his final scenes.
Review l Feature

10) Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas, Shrek 2):
Reason:
It was never going to be an easy task out-performing Eddie Murphy's wise-cracking Donkey in this popular sequel, but Antonio Banderas stepped up to the challenge with aplomb, giving himself a headache for how to pitch the Zorro sequel in the process.
Cool moments: Just take a look at the picture above and tell us that's not cool, especially when used to decept victims into thinking he is really just a cute little cat!
Review l Interview feature

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