Drama is conflict, and nothing causes conflict quite like a true villain. Figures of pure evil like Noah Cross or Frank Booth can elevate films in a big way, but there’s also something to be said for villains who are well intentioned and have a lot of good in them. That said, to be considered for this list the character must be a true antagonist within the film. Characters who are bad, or even evil, will not be considered if they are the main protagonist of the movie. Additionally, the villain must be a single tangible and sentient character. I will not be nominating any wild animals, natural disasters, large scale regimes, or meta-villains like “the economy” or “injustice.”
- Alan Krumwiede- Contagion: Alan Krumwiede, played by Jude Law, seems like a decent person at the beginning of the film, but he quickly proves to be a vile opportunist. He never personally kills anyone, but by spreading disinformation he causes all sorts of trouble and mayhem that may well have killed millions. It’s never entirely clear if he does this out of a genuine sense of paranoia or if he’s simply doing this for profit, but either way his actions are disastrous.
- Bernie Rose- Drive: Bernie Rose seems like such a nice guy… until he literally slits your throat. He clearly doesn’t want trouble and he wishes he could just relax and enjoy his ill-gotten gains, but people keep putting him in situations where he needs to pull out his knife collection and start killing people. But at least he’s polite when he kills them, and is willing to let them bleed out fast and mostly painlessly.
- Hilly Holbrook- The Help: We’ve seen all kinds of vile racist on screen. We’ve seen murderous KKK members, we’ve seen hateful politicians from the old South, and we’ve seen vicious slave drivers, but we haven’t really seen the soft racism that would have been displayed by all these people’s wives. This detestable suburban housewife is like a high school “mean girl” who bullies around her maids and manipulates others to do the same, and then has the gall to put together a hypocritical benefit for African starvation.
- Kyung-chul- I Saw the Devil: While Bernie Rose is someone who’d rather not kill you if he doesn’t have to, is the opposite, he’s go out of his way to murder you in the most painful way possible. We’ve seen a lot of evil serial killers on film, but this guy really takes the cake. He’s evil personified and it feels almost like he couldn’t stop killing people if he tried, and as he begins to duel with the film’s protagonist you also see that he’s very competent in his ruthlessness.
- Patrick- Martha Marcy May Marlene: When we first meet Patrick he seems like a fairly harmless hippie type, maybe a bit full of shit, but not exactly a villain. But the more you learn about him the scarier he seems. Patrick is a manipulative leader, someone who has meant people’s minds so that they depend on him and follow him without question. The most disturbing thing about it is that he seems to believe his own hype, he’s not just manipulating people because he thinks they’re rubes, he really believes in the cult lifestyle he’s formed.