The year 2012 saw over 250 movies make their way into the cineplexes worldwide, and starring in those films were thousands of characters in all shapes, sizes, creeds and species.
Ninety-five percent of those characters turn out to be forgettable, remembered only in the credits as “Woman crossing the street” – and thus end up fading into obscurity. However, the other five percent are so impressive either because of the performance by the actor portraying them or their overall visual appearance that audiences can’t help but remember them for a long time.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of what we think are the Most Memorable Movie Characters of 2012.
[These are listed in chronological order and will contain SPOILERS.]
Director Joe Carnahan scored a rare January hit with The Grey – his tale about a group of men who survive a plane crash in the harsh Alaskan frontier, just to be hunted mercilessly by a group of ferocious and territorial timber wolves.
Every last man would have died at the wreckage site on the first night, if not for the actions and leadership of John Ralph Ottway (Liam Neeson). Ottway tries to outrun certain death, but knows that it’s impossible and decides to face his pursuer head on.
Injured, with only a knife and broken liquor bottles taped to his hand as weapons (win!), Ottway faces the bloodthirsty lupine in a man-versus-beast final showdown – scraping his way onto our list.
Wanderlust is a mildly entertaining comedy where married couple George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) move from Manhattan to a hippie-style commune called Elysium. The camp is filled with all sorts of colorful characters like nudist Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio) and the scooter-bound Carvin (Alan Alda) – but none are more interesting than the camp’s leader, Seth (Justin Theroux).
Seth is a wild-haired, unwashed hippie who’s into non-violent displays of protest, community sharing and being one with nature. He’s also into free love – meaning he wants to be free to love in Linda’s pants (which he’s eventually able to accomplish).
Seth is one the funniest parts of the movie and stands out well above the rest of the cast.
The Avengers was the most financially successful film on 2012 thanks to writer/director Joss Whedon pulling off what many thought was impossible – successfully combining multiple storylines from several different films in a coherent way.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) may have brought the team together and Captain America (Chris Evans) may have led them into battle, but without the brute force and rage of the mighty Hulk, they wouldn’t have stood a chance against Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his army of Chitauri.
The Hulk’s battles with and against Thor (Chris Hemsworth) are spectacular and he absolutely steals the spotlight in the film with humor and awesomeness. After three tries, they finally got it right.
Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) and the rest of the gang from the New York Zoo find themselves in huge mess as they crash into a French casino in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. This time they draw the unwanted attention of the best animal control expert in the country – Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand).
DuBois is unrelenting in her pursuit of the mammals, chasing them through the streets of Monaco on her Vespa and across rooftops using acrobatic moves usually found on American Ninja Warrior.
She is merciless and shows no sympathy for animals who are unregistered and unlawfully on the streets; and she won’t’ stop until she catches every single one.
The best parts of Prometheus (the prequel (but not really) to Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi film Alien) are found on the Blu-ray release by way of deleted scenes.
Even so, the most interesting and memorable characters from the film are arguably the Engineers (Ian Whyte/Daniel Thomas), who are intriguing and imposing even if they are mute for 99% of the film.
Designer Neville Page, with direction from Scott, based their look on Greco-Roman gods in an attempt to make them appear like expressionless and flawless god-like figures.
In most of director Ridley Scott’s sci-fi films, androids and other artificial life forms aren’t to be trusted – and in Prometheus, David (Michael Fassbender) only reinforces that stereotype.
While most of the crew aboard the scientific exploration vessel are under the impression that David is programmed to protect them, his actual purpose is to serve the needs of ailing billionaire, Peter Weyland (Guy Pierce) – at the expense of the crew.
We may never know exactly what David said to the Engineer he woke up, but it’s a good bet it wasn’t “Please rip my head from my body and kill us all.”
Watching the self-indulgent ’80s Broadway musical-turned-big screen movie Rock of Ages, you might think the highlights of the film are the legendary Bourbon Room, the big hair, the ripped jeans or the loud guitar-driven power ballads – but you would be wrong.
Taking center stage in this movie is rocker Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) in all his shirtless, cowboy hat-wearing debauchery.
Only a true rocker like Jaxx could be partying with the bourbon-drinking monkey Hey Man one minute, then singing love songs into a reporter’s rear end the next.
The story from Brave may be focused on the mending of a scarred relationship between mother and daughter, but the real stars of this film are the triplet troublemakers Harris, Hubert & Hamish DunBroch.
They never speak a word, but communicate so well with each other that their cookie-stealing missions go off flawlessly every single time.
Besides pilfering confectioneries from the castle’s kitchen, they also enjoy driving the castle’s poor maid Maudie (Sally Kinghorn and Eilidh Fraser) bananas.
Twelve-year-old Kahki Scout Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) is his own man and has only one goal in the quirky film Moonrise Kingdom – to spend the rest of his days with the love of his life, Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward).
Dressed like a young Daniel Boone and armed only with his BB gun, Shakusky proves that anyone can make it in the woods if they have the right amount of determination and camping gear.
Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) is the owner of the all-male strip club Xquisite and stands out as the most interesting character in the hunk-filled summer hit film, Magic Mike.
While most of the characters were more or less generic and cliché examples of characters we’ve seen time and again, McConaughey brought his own unique style and humor to the aging male stripper.
We listed 3 reasons why guys wouldn’t see this film but its primary audience was (unsurprisingly) female; the film raked in over $100 million at the box office – probably all in $1 bills.
What isn’t memorable about Ted (Seth MacFarlane) in the raunchy summer hit, Ted?
He’s a teddy bear brought to life by a young boy’s wish, who “grows up” to be a foul-mouth, bong-hitting, hooker-loving, beer-drinking slacker.
Just because he has no responsibilities and lives life to its absolute fullest with no regrets doesn’t mean his fluff-filled heart is dark and without love. When the rain clouds form and the harsh, scary lightning starts, he and his best friend John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) become “thunder buddies.”
Living in a Louisiana bayou can be hard living for any adult, much less a six year old girl – unless the six year old girl is the adorable Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) in Beasts of the Southern Wild.
After a major storm all but destroys her little town nicknamed “Bathtub” and her ill father passes away in front of her, little Hushpuppy presses on with life.
We wish we had as much zest for life and determination as she does.
There were quite a few movie villains this year, but few rivaled the pure ferocity of Bane (Tom Hardy) in The Dark Knight Rises, the final film of Christopher Nolan’s excellent Batman trilogy.
Bane was truly a worthy foe who broke Batman’s back, took Gotham by force and came within seconds of igniting a nuclear bomb over the entire city.
It’s too bad, though, that such an excellent adversary had to be dispatched unceremoniously by a rifle – he deserved better.
Most movie serial killers are one-note generic butchers with boring, monotonous personalities and probably have more than one screw loose, but Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell) from Seven Psychopaths is the most entertaining nutjob killer in years.
Besides kidnapping dogs for reward money with his business partner Hans (Christopher Walkin), as well as being an inspiring screenplay author, Bickle is also the notorious and cold-blooded Jack of Hearts killer.
He may be daft in the head and crazier than a bag full of cats, but Billy is a true friend and would do anything to help his best bud, Marty (Colin Farrell).
In a movie full of lifeless, one-dimensional characters, the eccentric and psychotic Picasso (Matthew Fox) stands out head and shoulders above the rest in Alex Cross.
Picasso isn’t a hitman that you would want hunting you down, as he is very meticulous in his approach to murder and isn’t afraid to kill police officers, wives and unborn children just to exact revenge on one person.
He’s lean. He’s mean. He’s scary. Avoid him if you can.
In his heart, Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is really just a good guy doing a “bad” guy’s job, but unfortunately the residents of Niceland can’t see that as they overlook him to celebrate Fix-It Felix, Jr. in Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph.
Ralph’s fists can literally pulverize any object to smithereens. Neither bricks, bugs, or candy can withstand a mighty blow from one of his gigantic mitts.
Though Ralph starts off as a selfish jerk, he becomes one of the best friends Vanellope von Schweetz could ever have.
The James Bond franchise hasn’t seen a villain as unique as Silva (Javier Bardem) in Skyfall since Auric Goldfinger in 1964.
Exacting revenge on M (Judi Dench) is Silva’s only purpose in life, and to achieve that goal he is willing to kill dozens, if not hundreds, of people. He has the patience of Job, waiting years to make sure his complicated plan goes off without a hitch.
He’s also a sharp dresser who may or may not have more “personal” plans for James Bond (Daniel Craig) than just torture and death.
There arguably isn’t a more remembered President of the United States than Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis). The story of how he overcame political and personal obstacles to bring a war-torn country back together, while simultaneously ratifying the Constitution to abolish slavery, is told masterfully in Lincoln.
President Lincoln was a shrewd politician who knew just what buttons to push to sway members of Congress to vote his way, but at home he was a less than doting husband and father, often times ignoring the needs of his sons to work, and once threatening to have his wife Mary (Sally Fields) committed to a mental ward.
Important men in history are often only remembered for their accomplishments, but rarely the path they took to get there. Spielberg and Day-Lewis plotted that path for us very well.
In Lincoln,William N. Bilbo (James Spader) was a lawyer and a journalist who (in real-life) was once pardoned by Abraham Lincoln after being accused of spying for the Confederacy.
Being from Tennessee, Bilbo had a straight-to-the-point way about him while lobbying (read: using questionable legal tactics) to help President Lincoln and his Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) pass the Thirteenth Amendment.
His humorous personality helped break up the dramatic tension of the film, which dealt with heavy subjects like war, politics, slavery, racism and death.
Because he was named for a public swimming pool in France, Piscine “Pi” Patel (Suraj Sharma) had to become his own man early on in life.
His curiosity as a young boy about religion and his upbringing with animals (his father owned a zoo) helped him survive 227 days on a lifeboat with a tiger named Richard Parker in Life of Pi.
His ingenuity and respect for life were the only things that kept him from giving up hope even after a whale trashed his supplies and a carnivorous island full of meerkats almost killed him.
Thorin Oakshield (Richard Armitage) is a mighty dwarven warrior, the son of the King of Durin’s Folk, Thráin II and the grandson of King Thrór in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He also becomes one of Bilbo Baggins’ (Martin Freeman) closest allies and admirers.
Thorin’s epithet “Oakshield” comes from his legendary fight with the albino orc leader Azog; after losing his own shield, Thorin picked up an oak branch and with it, defeated the ferocious orc.
After the dragon Smaug lay waste to Erebor, captured all its gold and drove the mountain-dwelling dwarves into exile, Thorin swore revenge and won’t stop until either he or the great dragon are dead.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is filled with wonderful characters such as dwarves, orcs, elves, trolls, and wizards – but none are quite as memorable as the big-eyed, frail-bodied, jewelry-obsessed cavern dweller Gollum (Andy Serkis).
If Middle-earth had a dating service, Gollum’s profile would read: “Likes dark places, eating fish and playing riddle games.” He challenges Bilbo Baggins to a game of riddles – if Gollum loses, he’ll show Bilbo the way out of the dark tunnels, but if he wins he “gets to eats it whole.”
Gollum is tortured by his “Precious” (the One Ring) and mourns its loss after Bilbo steals it – promising to hunt the hobbit down to find it.
In Lee Child’s series of books, former Army Military Police Major Jack Reacher is a huge imposing man whose 6’5″ shadow engulfs everyone around him. So when it was announced that Tom Cruise (who stands at only 5’7″) would portray the character onscreen, there was a little (heh) concern.
Reacher is a highly-skilled fighter and investigator who’s only interested in seeking out the truth no matter where it takes him. So Cruise may not fit the physical attributes of the fictional drifter in Jack Reacher, but he does capture the essence of the character very well.
Reacher’s lack of remorse for any of his actions allows him to push headstrong into any situation – almost always coming out on top.
Everything about the man known simply as The Zec (Werner Herzog) in Jack Reacher is mysterious, disconcerting and dangerous. The eighty-year-old man spent most of his life inside Russian prisons and came out a heartless, ruthless villain.
His level of commitment to survival is evident by the fact he chose to bite off the fingers of one hand to stave off frostbite and decided that biting off the fingers of his other hand was a better choice than working the sulfur mines.
He gives others the same choice – bite off their fingers or take a bullet to the head – and for some reason they always choose the bullet…
The German dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) isn’t the focus of Django Unchained but he has a commanding presence in every scene he’s in.
Not only is he quick with his words, he’s quick on the draw with his pistol and a dead shot with his rifle from 100 yards or more. He detests slavery, but buys Django (Jamie Foxx) to help him find the Brittle brothers. In exchange, Schultz gives Django his freedom and – being a soft-hearted man – decides to help Django find his wife, Broomhilda.
Dr. Schultz may hate slavery and the inherit violence that comes with it, but he shows no hesitation when it comes to shooting a bad guy dead in the heart, which makes him a man to both admire and fear.
Those were all the characters we found interesting and memorable in 2012 but your list may differ from ours.
Hopefully 2013 will bring another round of great and memorable characters for us to discuss.
Until then, tell us which movie characters from 2012 were the most memorable to you.
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