A villain in a film otherwise known as the ‘bad guy’ can take many forms, whether it is a monster, serial killer, or a creepy old lady, villains always make films interesting to watch and give audiences someone to root against. The amount of great bad guy roles in films is vast and this list is only an example of some characters that embodied all that it takes to be an effective antagonist.
Here are my top 5 villains:
5. Emperor Commodus – Gladiator
Joaquin Phoenix plays the ruthless and cunning Emperor Commodus, who murders his father after finding out that he wanted Maximus (Russell Crowe) to be his successor. His ego and jealousy towards Maximus means he will stop at nothing to make sure no one knows about his father’s wishes and his borderline incestuous relationship with his sister who he treats so cruelly only adds to his malevolence. Throughout the film we can only wait with anticipation for his inevitable and fitting demise at the hands of Maximus.
4. Alonzo Harris – Training Day
Not all bad guys are on the wrong side of the law; some are often corrupt police officers like Alonzo Harris played by the charismatic Denzel Washington, who masquerades as an honourable member of law enforcement, while taking part in numerous criminal activities. Detective Harris drags rookie cop Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) into a nightmare on his first day at work. Harris arrogantly seems to think a lot of his actions are justified, so it is left to the noble Officer Hoyt to make sure justice is served.
3. Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting – Gangs of New York
This choice was a toss-up between Daniel Day-Lewis’s character Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, or Bill Cutting in Gangs of New York. The two performances are completely different which show what a great actor Day-Lewis is; however I had to go with the one which to me he appeared more menacing: the imposing and intimidating character that is Bill Cutting. He almost steals the whole film, with his creepy glass eye and dexterity with knives and general creepy and menacing demeanour.
2. Annie Wilkes – Misery
There have been quite a few villains in film that are women; from the callous Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, or who could forget the crazy bunny boiler Alex Forrest from Fatal Attraction. However, it is Kathy Bates’s chilling portrayal of Annie Wilkes in Misery that shows how well women can play the villain just as well as men. Wilkes is a devoted fan of a writer called Paul Sheldon (James Caan) and she nurses him back to health after rescuing him from a car accident. However, it is soon clear that Wilkes’ fanatical ways mean that she is not willing to let Sheldon leave any time soon.
This group of villains deserved their comeuppance in every way they got it and more at the hands of ‘The Bride‘ A.K.A. Black Mamba (Uma Thurman). Comprised of five professional assassins played by Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen and David Carradine, the squad all take part in trying to kill Thurman’s pregnant character on her wedding day, with her father figure Bill delivering the final shot to the head. It took two films two see just how cruel and merciless the squad were, which gave us even more reason (not that any was really needed) to cheer on Black Mamba’s samurai sword wielding killing spree.