January 4, 2014
With awards season approaching, ballot papers will be asking the who’s who of Planet Hollywood to vote for their favourite movies and moviemakers of 2013. While it is of course correct to celebrate the people responsible for bringing the year’s characters to life, the characters themselves — often born from collaborations between writer, director and actor — don’t ever seem to get the individual recognition they deserve.
I have limited my choices — arbitrarily, you might say — to characters who have debuted in 2013, to avoid favouritism towards familiar franchises and bias against remake replicants, and to characters not based on real people. As such, I have had to omit the likes of Darcy Lewis (from Thor: The Dark World) Captain Philips (fromCaptain Philips) and Sarah (the wonderful Mary Louise-Parker from RED 2).
The top five characters of 2013, then, are:
5. Biaggio (Moisés Arias), The Kings Of Summer
You may not yet have seen The Kings Of Summer, but I urge that you do as soon as possible. A social outcast who basically invites himself to stay with two fellow teenagers looking to start a new life for themselves in the woods, Biaggio ensures that there’s never a dull moment in camp, and provides much-needed comic relief when his housemates inevitably fall out. Arias is so brilliant in the role, in fact, that when he crops up out of character inEnder’s Game (where he instead plays a loathsome space bully) it almost derails the film.
4. Kate Grant (June Squibb), Nebraska
Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is about real people and relatable relationships, and is therefore light on Avengers and shrimpanzees. Far from being boring, however, his main characters are just as unforgettable. Although the film is technically a father-son story starring Will Forte and Bruce Dern, it’s supporting actress June Squibb who ultimately steals the show as matriarch Kate Grant. An opinionated realist who is not to be messed with, Squibb is a revelation, and is at her funniest when giving her mind — whether at the dinner table or her in-laws’ gravesides.
3. Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley), Iron Man 3
Although audiences were initially lead to believe that Ben Kingsley was playing The Mandarin in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, in reality he was actually playing someone else who was playing The Mandarin in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3. An original character created for the film, Slattery is a British method actor who has fooled the world into thinking he is a terrorist intent on killing Tony Stark — a distraction intended to draw attention away from the real villain of the piece. Some considered it a plot twist too far, but for anyone game for a laugh Slattery was one of the most entertaining characters of the year.
2. Olaf (Josh Gad), Frozen
While it’s true that ultimately Frozen‘s success is down to the complex and compelling relationship between sisters Anna and Elsa, I just couldn’t bring myself to choose between the two for the purposes of this list. Do I nominate Anna, the brave and playful younger sister, or Elsa, the strict older sibling, who may be less fun but can create ice castles and snow monsters with a wave of her hand? Instead I’ve gone for Olaf, the sentient snowman who loves warm hugs. It may sound like a gimmick, and I suppose it is, but listen to him sing “In Summer” and I defy you not to love him anyway.
1. Nurse Noakes (Hugo Weaving), Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas was full of memorable characters, with each actor getting at least one stand-out persona to play with, whether it was Tom Hanks’ cockney gangster or Hugh Grant’s tattooed cannibal. The character who made the biggest impression, at least for me, however, was Nurse Noakes, the abusive care-home orderly who torments poor Jim Broadbent in “The Ghastly Ordeal Of Timothy Cavendish”. Weaving is both hilarious and horrifying in the role of Aurora House’s resident “demented bitch”, thanks to gender-confusing prosthetics that are at once ridiculous and a little too convincing. It’s almost as though they used Michael Myer’s mask as the base layer.
And the worst: Jenny from Man Of Steal, easily the most pointless character of 2013