The Flix List: Top Ten Favorite Scene-Stealing Bad Boys

To conclude the trilogy of our Movie Villains post, I’ve resurrected the post I did nearly 2 yrs ago after I saw Public EnemiesI found the Michael Mann movie to be rather disappointing, but one thing is certain, Johnny Depp makes for a charming bad boy, the notorious bank robber John Dillinger. Hollywood does this all the time, making a ‘hero’ out of otherwise shabby characters. These are the kind of bad guys (obsessive stalkers, con artists, psychopaths, what have you) that makes us root for them despite their wickedness as we’re mesmerized by them more than we should be. In many cases, they not only steal the movie, they steal your heart in the process. Yes some are popular picks but I decided to include ’em because their performances hold up well after repeated viewings. So here they are listed in random order (it’s hard enough to pick just ten, I spare myself the task of ranking them):

1. Ben Wade in 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
I don’t even like Westerns but I saw this one at the theater because of the cast. No doubt Crowe is a charismatic actor who is just as compelling as a hero or a criminal, but as a bad boy, he certainly looked like he had more fun. The Bible-quoting outlaw played by Russell Crowe is a complex yet sympathetic character. Even Dan Evans (Christian Bale), the good guy who escorts Wade to the 3:10 train to Yuma, can’t help being drawn to the guy. The battle of wills between the two of them is the essence of the film right up until the end, with Wade having the last close-up and the one we remember more long after the movie is over.

2. Castor Troy in Face/Off (1997)
This despicable character is fascinating to watch, played by both John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. When playing Troy, each actor get the best lines and both seem to have more fun playing that character than the good guy Sean Archer. I probably give Cage the edge over Travolta as Troy, he is so over the top with his crazy eyes and flamboyant swagger, he seems to truly relish being a deranged maniac. I do enjoy Travolta’s performance in the prison-visit scene though, torturing the utterly-deflated Archer with utmost glee… “Ohhhhhhhhweeee, you good-lookin.” Man, I love this John Woo flick!

3. Phantom/Erik in Phantom of the Opera (2004)
When I saw this movie back in December 2004, I had no idea who Gerard Butler was. But just one look at this seductive brooding ‘opera ghost’ and you’ll know why Christine’s lured by him. Despite being the world’s biggest stalker, the Phantom’s extreme obsession is beguiling, yes even tantalizing. “Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation…” The Phantom sings, and with that Christine is cast under her spell… along with practically every woman watching that scene. The half-deformed rogue is supposed to be an ugly creature not much to look at, but it’s hopeless to try take your eyes off this Phantom. He’s the kind of bad boy who makes it impossible to root for the suitor. Raoul who??

4. The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008)
The role that eclipsed the Dark Knight himself, The Joker steals literally every scene he’s in from the moment he appears on screen. With his maniacal laugh and strange gestures, the agent of chaos is obviously a scary creature but also pretty darn funny! That pencil ‘magic trick’ for example, it’s both comical but unsettling at the same time, and that interrogation scene with Batman when he’s got his head slammed onto the table, “Never start with the head, the victim gets all fuzzy.” I laugh so hard every time! The more I watch this movie, the more I become fascinated by Heath Ledger’s incredible performance, he was practically ‘lost’ in the quintessentially evil character that might’ve cost him his own life.

5. Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988)
The masterful performance by Alan Rickman always made the list of ‘best villain’ and rightly so. He’s cruel and ruthless but yet so refined, elegant and polite that I can’t help being strangely attracted to this ruthless criminal. Oh, there’s the voice, too, that silky smooth delivery that only Rickman could do. Gruber offers such a stark contrast to the crass and ‘everyman’ John McClane (Bruce Willis) and made the game of cat and mouse so much more fun to watch. Oh and that death scene, still one of the most memorable movie climax ever!

6. Vincent in Collateral (2004)
I’ve never been a huge fan of Tom Cruise, but reading the good reviews intrigued me to see this one. I’m sure glad I did, it’s a great thriller and Cruise is astounding as Vincent, a contract hit man on assignment one fateful night in L.A. The mega star rarely plays bad-guy roles throughout his career, but he really should do more of ’em. Sporting scruff, salt-n-pepper hair, and shark-gray suit, it’s a striking look on the naturally handsome actor. Vincent is meticulous with his craft but he manages to appear amiable on the surface. Even his victims fall for his charm… only to realize too little too late that the person right in front of them is pure psycho ready to take a life without a hint of remorse. Jamie Foxx is excellent as the ill-fated cab driver, but Cruise definitely steals the show.

7. Dr. Octopuss in Spiderman 2 (2004) 
Alfred Molina is one of my favorite character actors, so when he was cast as the villain in this movie, I was in for a treat. The biggest nemesis often start out as friends, and the same with scientist Otto Octavius and Peter Parker. In fact, Peter looks up to Octavius, but one devastating scientific experiment gone awry changes all that. I see Doc Ock as much a victim as he is a villain — he’s overpowered by those mechanical tentacles he helped create that despite his brutal shenanigans, I never quite despite his character. His fight scenes with Spidey is so awesome that it deserves to be on this list. I think Spiderman 2 is easily the best of the franchise largely because of the compelling villain.

8. V in V for Vendetta (2006)
I’ve written an entire post on this very character, giving my homage to Hugo Weaving’s spectacular feat of acting entirely behind a mask. As I said before, no matter how you look at it, V is a ruthless and dangerous terrorist. Saying that he’s morally ambiguous is putting it mildly, because no matter how you look at it, the masked vigilante is basically a radical extremist. But anyone watching the movie will be hard-pressed not to root for the other guy and be mesmerized by Weaving’s masterful performance. His inimitable speaking voice sounds even more distinct and hypnotizing under that Guy Fawkes mask. That self-introduction scene when he rescues Evey from the corrupt police is one of my favorite scenes of all time (see the clip on the V post above).

9. Elijah Price in Unbreakable (2000)
This is the movie that makes me believe M. Night Shyamalan is not a lost cause. Unbreakable is one of my favorite mystery thriller of all times and boasts not one but two of the most intriguing cinematic characters. Price is the ultimate tragic figure, a man disillusioned and embittered by his debilitating brittle bone disease to the point of becoming a mass murderer. But watching the comic book dealer, you can’t help being drawn to his sophisticated and cultured persona… it also seems customary that memorable villains are impeccably dressed and his fashion style isn’t just stylish, they say something about who they are. I enjoy watching both Samuel L. Jackson’s and Bruce Willis’ unusually nuanced performances as they’re sort of playing against type as polar opposite individuals who cross path under the most incredible circumstances.

10. Col. Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Quentin Tarantino’s got a knack for casting charming bad boys (Hello Mr. Blonde), but he outdid himself when he cast Austrian veteran actor Christoph Waltz as the villain that practically ‘dwarfs’ every other actors in the movie. He is such a nasty piece of work who only cares about his well-being. He’s not even loyal to the Third Reich because he firmly believes in its cause, he’s just in it because it benefits him at the time. If another leader with a totally different viewpoint comes along, I don’t think he has qualms about switching his allegiance so long as there’s something in it for him. He’s spine-chillingly sinister but yet so darn charming and quite hilarious, sometimes he conveys all three at the same time in just the way he delivers a line! The suspenseful opening scene stretched my nerves to their snapping point, but  Every award the film industry had that year for Supporting Actor, they gave ’em all to Waltz and rightly so. He’s one of the major reasons I was rooting for Basterds to win Oscar’s Best Picture!

Honorable Mentions:

  • Neville Sinclair and Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton) in The Rocketeer and Hot Fuzz, respectively
  • Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) in The Matrix
  • Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) in Wall Street
  • Keyser Söze (Kevin Spacey) in The Usual Suspect
  • Dracula (both Gerry Butler and Gary Oldman) in Dracula 2000 and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, respectively
Please note that I decided to leave out female villains and those from animated features as they deserve to have on their own list.
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What do you think, folks? Any particular cinematic bad boy(s) stood out to you?

Guest Post: Top ten movie villains from the 80s – today

Well, now that you’ve read my villains analysis post, these are my top ten favorite/best villains in films since the 80s, I know I left out some well known ones but that’s because most people have already chose them. So I decided to go with some not so well known or no that popular villains in the last 30 years or so. Here goes:


1. Chad from In the Company of Men (1997) – Aaron Eckhart’s first leading role and wow was he great in this movie. He played one of the most despicable characters I’ve ever seen on screen. I truly hated his character and by the end of the movie, I wanted to beat the crap out of him. What’s more disturbing is that these kinds of people do exist in real life. In fact, I had a friend who has the same characteristics as that of Eckhart’s character. I got so annoyed by him that I’m no longer friends with him. But back to this movie, if you’ve never seen it, please give it a rent. And if you didn’t want to smack Eckhart’s character by the time the film’s over, then you may have a problem.

2. Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) – Alan Rickman is a great actor and of course he always played a great villain. Since most people named his Hans Gruber or Snape character as their favorite villain, I’m gonna go with his Sheriff of Nottingham character from 1991’s Robin Hood film. The role wasn’t as memorable as Gruber or Snape but he was the only good thing in the movie.

3. Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs (1991) – I saw this film when I was very young and that mirror scene disturbed me so much that I lost my appetite every time that scene came to my head. It’s still disturbing to me now if watch that scene again. Many people would pick Dr. Lecter but he wasn’t the villain in this movie, he was actually helping our heroine trying to capture Buffalo Bill. I was glad the film version cut out the backstory of how Bill became a killer; it made him more mysterious and scary. The book gave away too much information about his life and you ended up symphonizes with him.

4. Clarence Boddicker from Robocop (1987) – Out of all of Kurtwood Smith’s roles, his most memorable one to me has to be this nasty crime boss, he played a stone cold killer with no remorse whatsoever. The scene where he and his gang of thugs tortured and killed Alex Murphy was probably the most disturbing scene in the movie for me. I saw the film when I was ten years old so yeah it was quite disturbing at the time.

5. Magneto from the X-Men films (2000, 2003, 2006) – I loved The X-Men cartoon from the 1990s and Magneto was my favorite villain from the show. So when they finally announced the film version, I was a bit skeptical when they cast Ian McKellen as Magneto. In the comics and cartoon, he’s this muscular character but McKellen pulled it off and now I think of him as Magneto. Let’s hope Fassbender can play the role in the new X-Men film as well as McKellen did.

6. Annie Wilkes from Misery (1990) – Kathy Bates did such an amazing job that every time I see her in other films or TV show, I’d always think of her as Annie. If you think Annie was nasty in the movie, give the novel a read, oh boy she was 3 times nastier in the book.

7. The Terminator from The Terminator (1984) – No one thought that a small budget movie about a time travelling killer cyborg would spawn three sequels but it happened. Thanks largely to Arnold’s turn as the memorable cyborg killer; the film has become a pop icon in American cinemas. Oh yeah this was the film where he uttered his most famous line “I’ll be back.” Here’s a little nugget, Cameron wrote the part of The Terminator as a regular looking person and wanted Arnold for the role of Kyle Reese. Lance Henriksen, who played the cop in the movie, actually auditioned for the Terminator role. But when Cameron finally met Arnold in person, he decided to he wanted Arnold to play The Terminator and offered the role to him. Unbeknownst to Cameron, Arnold wanted to play The Terminator from the beginning and he was going to ask Cameron if he can take that role instead of the Kyle Reese role but Cameron offered him The Terminator role right away and as they say the rest is history. It worked out for great for both of them since both became famous and quite rich after they made this film together.

8. Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men (2007) – Another unstoppable killer on my list, except this one was not a robot but he’s sure act like one didn’t he? I know that this film has its fans and haters; personally I thought it’s a near masterpiece. I’ve seen the film at least 20 times now and I’m always fascinated with the Chigurh character. He’s killer who enjoys killing for the fun of it, in a way he’s very similar to The Terminator. He wants that case of money and he’ll kill whoever was in his way.

9. Darth Maul from Star Wars Episode 1 (1999) – I only include him on this list because he’s the only good thing in this film and I love that light saber battle at the end. The pod race sequence was pretty cool too. That’s all I can say about this film without offending the Star Wars fanatics out there.

10. Karen Crowder from Michael Clayton (2007) – Tilda Swinton’s role as a tough corporate climber executive was one of the most realistic take I’ve ever seen in a film. Why did I say her character was so realistic? Well I’ve worked in big corporations in the last 10 years or so and I dealt with that kind of person many times. In a scene where she first met Clooney’s character and she wasn’t too happy of what Clooney had told her; sort of brought back some bad memories for me. You see I do web design for a living and I have to present my designs to top level executives, a few years back I worked at a large corporation, I won’t name which one, I had to present my design comps of a new site. Well a couple of the executives just told me flat out that they hated the design and didn’t even bother to see the rest of them. Mind you I’d spent hours working on the comps so that was quite a painful experience. Anyhoo, I thought Tilda did a great job playing this kind of character. Now in the movie her character ordered a hit on someone, I don’t know if any of the executives I used to work for did that. I just wanted to make that clear.


Well, that’s my list. Any thoughts about any of my picks? Feel free to share who you think is a memorable movie villains.

Guest Post: Musings on Action Movie Villains from the 80s-Today

I love action films, when I was little I watched so many kung-fu and samurai films that I thought I was gonna grow up and be a kung-fu or samurai master. We all had silly dream when we were young right? Then in my teens I started watching shoot-em-up action flicks, a lot of John Woo’s earlier films and of course Arnold’s and Sly’s flicks of the 80s and 90s.

[rtm’s note: I found this fantastic illustration by artist Justin Reed, aptly titled 80s Action Heroes that’s perfect for this post!]

Click on image to view Mr. Reed's other works

You’re probably wondering why I told you that little story of my childhood, well I consider myself to be an action film junkie/expert. I kid you not, I probably have seen most if not all of action films Hollywood has made since the 1980s, some in 1970s too. Name any action films that came out in the last 30 years or so and I probably have seen it. Here are a few titles of action flicks that I guarantee not many people have seen or even heard of: Let’s Get Harry, Blind Fury, Extreme Prejudice, The Dogs of War and Freebie and The Bean. If you have seen some or all of those films, then I welcome you to the action junkie/expert club.

Anyhoo, now that I’ve got my history of action films viewing out of the way, I thought it would be a good idea to write up an analysis of sort about the villains in those films through each decade. I’ll break down the trend of bad guys in films in the 80s, 90s, 2000s and today. So here goes:

1980s – Bad guys were mostly drug dealers

Gary Busey in Lethal Weapon

The buddy cop action flicks were the big trend in Hollywood back in the 80s, and of course the bad guys were mostly drug dealers ran by old dudes with lots of henchmen with machine guns. Look at the villains in films such as Lethal Weapon 1 & 2, Tango & Cash, Red Heat, To Live & Die in L.A., Beverly Hills Cop and Raw Deal. Most of those films were big hits at the time and drug dealers were the main antagonists.

1990s – Domestic terrorists

Nic Cage & John Travolta took turns to play bad boy Castor Troy

The buddy cop action trend was dying down in the early 90s, and with that came the trend shift in action movie villains. The bombing in Oklahoma City and the Unabomber were the big stories of the 90s and so Hollywood decided to use domestic terrorists as their villain in action films. Look at the bad guys in these films: Die Hard 2 & 3, Speed, Cliffhanger, Blown Away, Under Siege, The Rock, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Face/Off and Con Air; the villains were either bombers or domestic terrorists. I recently watched The Rock again for the first time in 10 years and I thought to myself there’s no way the film would have been a big hit like it was in 1996 had it been released in today’s market. The concept was just way too ridiculous for today’s audience to buy into it. Now don’t get me wrong, I think The Rock was quite entertaining and it’s the only decent Michael Bay’s film. I also blame the first Die Hard for this trend, most of the big action films in the 90s were about a group of armed men holding hostages and demands huge ransom and of course our hero/heroes swooped in and killed them all and rescued the hostages. But the main trend was still domestic terrorists.

2000s and today’s villains

Action film villains shifted again in the 2000s with the success of comic book based and fantasy films. The successes of films such as X-Men 1-3, Spiderman 1-3, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Matrix Trilogy, Avatar and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, villains in those films were mostly fantasy characters. After 9/11, spy films were also big hits, The Bourne Trilogy and James Bond films raked in big money at the box office. I think this trend will stay throughout this decade too, since comic book films are still making big money and the new Bourne, Bond and Mission: Impossible films are on their way to the cinemas. Also, Avatar sequels and The Hobbit are also coming later this decade.

[rtm’s note: Ted’s picks for Ten Best Movie Villains from 1980s – Today is now up. Stay tuned for the final post of the Villains Trilogy Series out tomorrow]


Well do you agree with my analysis of villains in films? And do you think we’ll see another trend in few years from Hollywood?