2017 Calvin Awards: Best Character
By David Mumpower
February 21, 2017
Best Character is the most aggressive category in The Calvins each year, and I mean the voting process. Staff members threaten one another with bodily harm if the wrong character gets an excessive amount of votes. This happens each year, and I won’t pretend like I’m above such contentious behavior. In fact, the ninth place entry this year offends me on a fundamental level (I had the actress on my Worst Performance list), which just goes to show how passionate our staff is on the subject of great characters. What one person loves makes another super-stabby.
What’s most interesting about this year is how close the voting was after first place. A single ballot is the difference between third place and 11th (i.e. not receiving a nomination). The difference between 10th place (a nomination) and 20th place (no credit whatsoever) is less than a single ballot. Our group’s passion was spread out across a lot of different characters this year…with one notable exception.
The winner in the category of Best Character this year is Deadpool, and he won by a LOT. To wit, the Merc with a Mouth earned more votes than the combined total of the second and third place entrants. The outcome is unsurprising. Deadpool was the most shocking box office surprise in the first quarter of a year EVER, and Fox predicated their entire marketing campaign on the kinetic appeal of Ryan Reynolds in the role he was born to play. The popularity of the movie indicates the hypnotic attraction audiences had toward the character, and our staff wasn’t immune to his appeal.
In fact, this is one of the largest blowouts ever in the category, reinforcing the way that Deadpool just works as a concept. He’ll say the most outrageous things in a spontaneous manner that somehow makes him all the more endearing. In the 21st century, three larger than life characters have been cast perfectly: Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, and now Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool. He’s the clear choice as Best Character of the year, and our staff didn’t hesitate in selecting him number one. For that matter, only one other character on this list received multiple first place votes.
Do you know what’s great about androids? They’re programmable! Should a devious member of the Empire code one to perform the devil’s (aka Darth Vader’s) work, a savvy rebel can reprogram it to save mankind. Such is the case with K-2SO, an imperial enforcer droid converted to work for #RogueOne. He’s sardonic, honest beyond a point of fault, and surprisingly effective at sacrificing himself for the greater good. We love that guy and can’t wait to pay $39.99 MSRP to buy manufactured recreations of him from now until the day we die. As such, K-2SO is our choice as the second best character of the year.
Characters from a pair of awards season contenders and one of the year’s biggest blockbusters complete the top five. Louise Banks from Arrival amazed us for her willingness to embrace a choice that few people would consider tolerable. Her dedicated efforts to save the human race come at a high cost, one the viewer doesn’t understand until the end of the film. Meanwhile, Chiron from Moonlight is one of the strangest characters we’ve ever nominated since three different actors play the role from childhood until adulthood. Still, we’re transfixed by the maturation of a troubled kid thanks in large part to the guidance from a drug dealer who becomes a father figure. Moonlight is one of the most challenging films in recent memory, and Chiron is integral to its sustained appeal in the face of depressing subject matter. Finally, T'Challa aka Black Panther watches his father die during a terrorist attack and then seeks to unearth the truth about how is responsible for these actions. Along the way, he’s mysterious and inscrutable yet entertaining and truly badass. Captain America: Civil War hinges on the introduction of this new character to the Marvel universe, and Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal hooked us from the opening frame. It was a great year for new comic book characters in particular.
Sixth and seventh place go to a good guy with an ego and a complex character whose motivations are up for debate. The good guy is Maui from Moana, who pulls off a fairly significant upset by performing better than Moana in the category. The Rock infuses the demigod with the perfect blend of self-delusional id and self-confident tutoring as a mentor to Moana. Seventh place entrant Howard Stambler owns a bunker at 10 Cloverfield Lane, which makes him either the salvation of distressed damsel Michelle or her oppressive captor. Both arguments seem valid throughout the film, and the denouement of the Cloverfield nearquel reinforces the fact that no matter what you think of him, Stambler knows what he’s talking about when it comes to conspiracy theories.
The final three entries this year come from a criminally overlooked masterpiece, an already forgotten box office bomb, and the Academy Awards frontrunner. Conor Lawler from Sing Street is our eighth selection. We love how passionately and fearlessly he woos Raphina, an aspiring model who can be a bit shaky with the truth. Ninth goes to Dr. Jillian Holtzmann from Ghostbusters. Her forced weirdness struck a chord with some of our voters. And tenth place goes to would-be actress Mia Dolan in La La Land, the emotional core of the blockbuster hit. She can sing, she can dance, she can write, and she can direct. Simply stated, she’s a fictionalized version of Emma Stone, and that’s why the character works so perfectly.
Given the closeness of the ballot, several characters were achingly close to selection but just missed. The ten that didn’t quite make the list are Connor4Real from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Sebastian Wilder from La La Land, Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad, Michèle Leblanc from Elle, Nick Wilde from Zootopia, Lee Chandler from Manchester by the Sea, Jackson Healy from The Nice Guys, Stephen Strange from Doctor Strange, Baird Whitlock from Hail, Caesar!, and Moana from, well, Moana.
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
|| Deadpool / Wade Wilson
|| Louise Banks
|| Black Panther / T'Chalia
||Captain America: Civil War
|| Howard Stambler
||10 Cloverfield Lane
|| Conor Lawler
|| Dr. Jillian Holtzmann
|| Mia Dolan
||La La Land