We all know how much a villain you love to hate can help make a movie great. The thing is, I’m a purist when it comes to classifying people as a villain. To compete in this category the character needs to actively be an antagonist within a movie (in other words, a guy who’s the main character of a film is ineligible even if he’s a truly evil S.O.B.), also I’m only nominating humans (so the Rock from 127 Hours is out), and I won’t be getting cute and calling “poverty” or “the government” or something a villain.
- Martin Vanger– The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: I’m probably going to have to blank out this whole paragraph, because it gives away the solution to the mystery, but the nomination is certainly earned. If nothing else, this Swedish adaptation of the best-selling novel is great at establishing it’s villains as truly vile bastards. This is a guy who murdered dozens of people in depraved ways and he tries to do similarly grizzly things to our heroes.
- Frank D’Amico- Kick-Ass: The mob boss thing has kind of been done to death, but Mark Strong finds new ways to breathe life into the archetype with his performance in Kick-Ass. It’s in many ways a comical performance, with the character having to do mundane things while still being a cold blooded killer. But D’Amico can also be a rather physical villain who will kick you in the head and shoot you in the face.
- Sir Godfrey- Robin Hood: Holy shit, this was a great year for Mark Strong playing evil bald people, and in this one he even has a scar on his face. The character is a spy, working for France but serving in the English court, and his ultimate goal is to weaken England from within to prepare for a French invasion. The guy is also a cold blooded killer who has no problem killing innocents to reach his goals.
- Lucky Ned- True Grit: Lucky Ned doesn’t show up until really late in the run of True Grit, and we don’t realize that he’s the true villain until just as late. Barry Pepper has the distinction of sharing his last name with the character, but that’s trivial, what really matters is that he’s made the guy into a truly evil varmint. This character is a psycho not unlike Ben Foster’s work in another recent Western remake: 3:10 to Yuma.
- Thump Milton- Winter’s Bone: We don’t see a whole lot of Thump Milton on screen in Winter’s Bone, but he’s built up spectacularly and when he finally does show up he definitely makes an impression. Played by an amateur named Ronnie Hall, this is an imposing figure, a hillbilly Vitto Corleone if you will. His actions seem to back up his reputation too, but we only really see the tip of the iceberg, the real appeal is the vile things we can only imagine him having done.