2012 Calvin Awards: Best Character
February 14, 2012
Sometimes a character can transcend a movie, or even the actor playing that character. Star Wars is a great movie, sure, and Harrison Ford is a good actor, but the combination of that movie and that actor brought us Han Solo, the most awesome dude in the universe. Gordon Gekko, Dirty Harry, Tony Montana, Ellen Ripley. These are all characters from movies that I haven't seen, yet just by looking at a screen shot from any of these movies I can tell you who these characters are and just how badass they are (the answer in every case is “extremely badass”).
That is why we at BOP created Best Character, an award not for an actor or a screenplay, but a way to call out characters who we will remember for years to come, long after we've forgotten everything else about the movies themselves. Original characters, characters taken from books, and even characters based on real people, all are welcome in this category, as long they are awesome and memorable enough to stand out among all of the characters on screen throughout the year. Last year BOP broke this category in very well, giving the award to Mr. Brainwash, the eccentric, loquacious and ostentatious modern artist from the “documentary?” Exit Through the Gift Shop. This year we decided to go in a different direction.
The battle for the top spot in this category was extremely close, between two great characters who are better known for their silence than their words, but for making every word they do say count. Our top two contenders finished within one point of each other, but the winner in a bloody fight (is there any other kind for this character?) is The Driver. Drive was Nicolas Winding Refn's violent throwback to '80s action films, a film that was all about style and panache. The driving force behind that film (sorry), the characters that gave that film its wheels (sorry), and who really revved our engines (seriously, I'm sorry) was The Driver.
This was really Ryan Gosling's year, starring in three very different, but equally lauded films. His characters in Crazy, Stupid, Love and The Ides of March are talkative and attention-grabbing, but The Driver is mostly silent, a ghost who is able to slip unnoticed out of any situation. What the film does effectively is take this stoic, spartan character and put him into situations that are guaranteed to challenge him, both physically and emotionally. The Driver is a loner who finds himself getting close to someone, a cold businessman who is forced to choose his heart over his head. Plus, the man can chew a toothpick.
In second is a character even less talkative than The Driver, only uttering four words throughout the film, but man were they some words. That character is Caesar, who is essentially the protagonist of Rise of the Planet of the Apes if you ignore James Franco (and the movie is better if you do). Despite receiving half as many first place votes as The Driver, Caesar lost by only one point, as clearly there was a lot of broad support among the BOP staff for this hyper-intelligent ape who helped overthrow humanity. Watching Caesar trapped, tortured and alone is heartbreaking, making him one of the most sympathetic characters of the year, and kind of making everyone root against the humans.