2013 Calvin Awards: Best Character
By David Mumpower
February 19, 2013
Characters are the chief drawing point of cinema. People do not love Ghostbusters because of the silly costumes and woefully dated special effects. Instead, they relish the opportunity to witness Dr. Peter Venkman crack wise about mystical events. Characters provide the entertainment in film. Take a moment to consider your favorite movies and you will appreciate that this is true. 2013 marks the third year that BOP has lauded characters in addition to acting performances. What is undeniable from this year’s results is that box office matters to us.
Katniss Everdeen, champion of The Hunger Games, is our choice as the Best Character of the year. Katniss memes have been ubiquitous over the past 12 months as Hunger Games fanatics volunteer as tribute whenever they can. Katniss is a long overdue female actual heroine anchoring a Tentpole title, but that aspect is secondary to the appeal of the character. Equal parts brave and vulnerable, this teen girl refuses to lose her sister in the competition. She volunteers, fully expecting to die. After all, she only has a one in 24 chance of survival.
The evolution of Katniss Everdeen is what differentiates the character from other selections on our list. She starts as an accomplished hunter who eschews the laws of her District in order to provide food for her family. After volunteering for The Hunger Games, Katniss understands that she is probably not going to survive the week. Rather than relegate herself to pity, the District 12 huntress listens to her drunken mentor, at least when he’s sober enough to make sense. Then, she combines his teachings with her own philosophies on hunting. In combination with her survival instincts, Katniss adapts enough to increase the odds of victory ever in her favor.
Still, Katniss never loses her humanity during The Hunger Games. She befriends a girl named Rue, and stays with the girl as she takes her last breath. In the process, Katniss gains the respect of citizens in other Districts, all of whom resent this competition as much as her people do. She is noble, defiant and battle-tested as well as a natural born leader. In the end, Katniss refuses to bow to authority, because those monsters demand that 23 children die each year to keep the Districts subservient. By staying true herself in the face of such powerful opponents, Katniss Everdeen demonstrates why she is the easy choice for Best Character of the year.
Our second place entrant would have been a huge surprise at this time 12 months ago. Dr. Bruce Banner has appeared in two other movies in the 2000s. The better of them was only okay. The challenge of creating a believable Hulk character is that a “huge green rage monster” is not relatable. Somehow, Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo accomplished more with a few minutes of character development than Ang Lee and Louis Leterrier had managed in 250 minutes of screen time. The key is the focus on Dr. Jekyll, not Mr. Hyde.