2018 Calvin Awards: Best Character
By David Mumpower
February 27, 2018
What makes for a great character? The answer to this question lies in the eye of the beholder, and that’s what BOP likes about it. Our voters all have individual criteria that they use in choosing favorites. Some skew toward wholly original creations, while others laud famous actors who embrace daring projects.
The diversity of opinion leads to some no-holds-barred staff arguments. I mentioned last year that something I voted for Worst Performance earned a spot in Best Character, and it still bothers me to this day. I only get one vote, though, and that’s what is great about this category. Something I hate is a performance that more than 15 voters lauded. That’s how discussions about the fine arts should work.
The past year didn’t have quite the same division as in previous votes. Our staff locked onto the same quartet of characters as the best. The next tier of seven roles was also relatively even, with one unfortunate character missing nomination by a single vote. So, we loved 11 characters vastly more than the rest last year. The one that we favored the most is a character that everyone’s known since they were a small child.
Yes, Diana Prince, the true Wonder Woman of comic books, is our choice as Best Character this year. While she technically debuted in the heinously awful Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zack Snyder didn’t have a memorable take on the character. Patty Jenkins, on the other hand, constructed Wonder Woman as if Prince were a real person…and her best friend.
The loving representation of an Amazon warrior is the modern definition of female empowerment. The story structure of Wonder Woman is so feminist that Chris Pine’s character in the role is basically the girl, the role we’ve seen in every major action movie since the early days of Hollywood. Wonder Woman is a role reversal wherein the Amazon saves the day with her nobility, virtue, and courage.
I’m not breaking new ground in stating that Gal Gadot is a revelation as the titular lead. Her earnest portrayal of Diana won over our staff. We fully believed that this princess would find World War I abhorrent and the men running it unfit to lead warriors into battle. And the sequence wherein she stood up for the rights of people who were otherwise left to die was as powerful as anything we watched over the past year. Wonder Woman was the perfect blockbuster in 2017, and its superheroine is clearly the Best Character of the year.
While we loved Diana Prince, she was something of a compromise vote. That character earned only one first place vote but many top five selections. The character that received the most first place votes is Baby from Baby Driver. Our second favorite character of the year is an insular driver stuck in an impossible situation: he’s a teen male forced to work with Kevin Spacey.
Cheap (but fair) jokes aside, Baby wowed us with his driving skill. More importantly, we loved how his musical selections framed his perspective of the world around him. And we admired the way that he found a way to protect the only person he cared about, even if it had devastating personal consequences to him. Baby wasn’t for everyone on our staff, as Baby Driver is one of the most divisive films of the years. Those of us who loved him, however, deemed him one of the two finest characters and the best original creation. He just couldn’t compete with a woman with 75 years of back story.
You’ll notice that the difference between second and fourth place this year is only a couple of points. So, you can view these characters are virtually the same in the collective eyes of BOP. The third selection is Mildred from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. What we admire about this woman is that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to pressure the local law enforcement officials to find justice for her daughter. She knows that some of these men are good officers, while others are dirtbags. She holds the honorable ones in the same light as the ignoble since none of them has done their job to her satisfaction. It’s a fearless role with a chilling subplot about the moral implications of murder, and the entire story hinges on Mildred. She’s a hard woman to love, but our staff managed to do so anyway.
The other two selections in our top five are from Lady Bird and The Shape of Water. Lady Bird finishes in fourth but is only a couple of first place votes away from winning the category. We loved her innocence and stubborn streak as she questioned all of the elements of her upbringing. We also admired and empathized with her maturation out of adolescence as she grew to understand her place in the world.
Elisa from The Shape of Water is our fifth choice, albeit significantly behind Lady Bird. Elisa is a woman who is *ahem* open to new things. Our staff found her odd attempt at romance heartwarming and maybe a little creepy. We also felt that the sexual harassment subplot was perfectly timed for the year that Hollywood just had. Also, more than any other character this year, Elisa knew what she wanted in life and went for it. Our staff always values those roles in particular.
We choose a pair anti-heroes as our selections for sixth and seventh place in the category. Sixth goes to Molly Bloom, a skier whose unfortunate accident sets her down an unlikely career path. She becomes a poker hostess. Along the way, she earns the wrath of the federal government, the Russian mafia, and someone who isn’t technically Tobey Maguire but who is totally Tobey Maguire. We love Molly’s ferocity and drive. She’s another exceptional female character in the Aaron Sorkin filmography.
Seventh goes to Adrian Toomes, whom Spider-Man knows as The Vulture. Michael Keaton’s work as Toomes is the new archetype for how to play a villain in a comic book movie. Keaton plays the role as if society has wronged The Vulture and forced him to behave a certain way. He’s still a loving father and loyal family man. He just happens to try to kill Spider-Man several times along the way. If loving The Vulture is wrong, BOP doesn’t want to be right.
Our final three selections include a felon, a CGI character, and Tonya Harding. Yes, BOP voters are eclectic. The felon is one Joe Bang, a currently incarcerated demolitions expert who aids Jimmy Logan in robbing a NASCAR event. And he does it in the lowest tech manner imaginable. The CGI character is Korg, the would-be revolutionary trapped on a war world known as Sakaar. Korg doesn’t have much of a filter, and we love that about him. The director of the film, Taika Waititi, voices the character and ensures that all of his lines are comic relief perfection. Finally, we voted for Tonya Harding because fuck Nancy Kerrigan! That’s why!
The characters who narrowly missed selection this year are Tommy Wiseau from The Disaster Artist, Elio from Call Me By Your Name, Alma and Reynolds from Phantom Thread, X-23 from Logan, Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok, Hector and Miguel from Coco, and Rose Tico from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
2018 Calvin Awards
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
||Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
|| Lady Bird
||The Shape of Water
|| Molly Bloom
|| Adrian Toomes/Vulture
|| Joe Bang
|| Tonya Harding