The 100 Greatest 2010s Movie Characters (90-81)

The 2010s were a hell of a decade for film. Disney had a stranglehold on the box office. A24 cornered the market on low-budget cinema. Blumhouse made horror great again. Moviegoers finally embraced foreign film (kinda) and critically acclaimed movies were being shot on cellphones. The age of the mega-blockbuster essentially destroyed moderately budgeted films. Streaming provided hundreds of hours of new content (some of which was provided by some heavy hitters, such as Scorsese and the Coen Bros). Weird independent filmmakers were allowed the opportunity to direct huge movies. And previously thought impossible to see films such as The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and The Other Side of the Wind were actually released. It was a decade in which the Oscars finally got it right (for two years at least) and which everyone tried and failed to be Marvel (RIP Dark Universe). Blank checks were cut regularly, resulting in some amazing titles such as Blade Runner 2049, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Irishman and not-so-great titles like A Wrinkle in Time, The Last Airbender, and Cats. The decade was impossible to pin down but what no one can dispute is the amount of indelible characters it produced. McConaughey had a career resurgence, DiCaprio was on fire and the MCU was a movie star-making factory. It felt like every new blockbuster introduced at least five new fan favorites, so limiting this to one hundred was a bloodletting but eventually we here at SAW did it.

These are the 100 Greatest 2010s Movie Characters.

90. Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) | Split (2016)

We’ve named this entry as Kevin Wendell Crumb for simplicity, but this is really multiple roles all wrapped up into one as James McAvoy delivers an Oscar-worthy performance that was sadly overlooked in this horror-thriller from M. Night Shyamalan. Kevin Wendell Crumb is the legal name of the character but is long buried beneath Crumb’s other “alters,” the alternate identities formed by his dissociative identity disorder.

One takes the form of an old, strict woman working some kind of religious plan with a kidnapped girl; another the form of a well-adjusted man seeking therapy for his disorder; another a child. McAvoy’s performance makes each of these characters distinct and, given the circumstances, truly chilling and unforgettable.

–Jacob Holmes

89. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) | Inception (2010)

Leonardo DiCaprio has been turning in awards-worthy performances since he was a teenager. While I can’t speak for his early career, adult DiCaprio is very picky about the projects he attaches himself to. So, with that said, as I sat down to start this write-up, I asked myself if Inception was the most mainstream film DiCaprio has done in some time. An argument can be made for The Wolf of Wall Street or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but those are both films that DiCaprio made in hopes of garnering an Academy Award or two. I don’t get that with Inception. DiCaprio is great as professional thief Dom Cobb. I mean, why wouldn’t he be; he’s Leonardo DiCaprio for Christ’s sake! So, I think what separates this film from the rest of DiCaprio’s 2010s filmography is that Inception is just a blast to watch. It’s fun. It’s thrilling. It’s a star-studded affair. With the pressure of giving an Oscar-worthy performance off his shoulders, DiCaprio can ease up and have some fun. Cobb isn’t the best character DiCaprio portrayed in the 2010s (and you’ll see that come up later in the list), but he’s the one that will remain with audiences indefinitely. Like, some might say, a spinning top.

–Marmaduke Karlston

88. Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) | Kick-Ass (2010)

As far as I am concerned, Hit-Girl is the star of this movie. It’s hard to imagine that Chloë Grace Moretz was only 12 years old when she gave us this performance. I’m not always a fan of child actors, but she is by far and away the biggest exception. She brought a lot of heart and humor to the character and the way that she delivers the line, “Okay, you cunts … let’s see what you can do now,” as if she were starring in some Clint Eastwood joint is nothing shy of pure brilliance. It’s also hard to imagine that Kick-Ass was once considered ahead of the curve yet did not feel outdated. I can understand why the franchise died after the failure of Kick-Ass 2 but Hit-Girl should’ve gotten her own spin-off because there is absolutely a lot more to explore with the character. She was able to get her own solo mini-series so it’s not like the course material isn’t there. Maybe the time has passed and the novelty of Kick-Ass has worn off, but we can always cross our fingers … that is if she doesn’t cut them off first.


87. Dr. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) | The Martian (2015)

“I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.” I read the book first, and I couldn’t imagine – as good as it is – how you could make a film that’s basically one guy talking to himself the whole time. Even if he is on Mars. Ridley Scott does a fantastic job with the look and pacing – making a castaway story into something more tense and exciting than I thought possible – but it’s Matt Damon’s everyman performance as Mark Watney that makes you keep watching. He embodies the character of Watney perfectly – self-deprecating, able to find the humor in every situation, and absolutely unwilling to just lie down and die in what might just be the most helpless situation a human being could find themselves. Left for dead on the surface of another planet.

–Bob Cram

86. Frank (Michael Fassbender) | Frank (2014)

A film about a pretentious lead singer of a band called Soronprfbs (complete with a theramin) who wears a giant papier-mâché Frank Sidebottom mask (if you’re from America, don’t even bother googling the reference. It ain’t for us) and sings nonsense songs about nothing but in a really pretentious way, sounds almost too unbearable to take. Sounds like try hard hipster shit but the film is anything but. It’s actually a surprisingly poignant film that’s equal parts funny, clever, and endearingly unusual. The film transcends its quirky trappings with a heartfelt — and surprisingly thought-provoking — story. As the film progresses, each character has more and more about themselves revealed and it goes without saying that the titular Frank has the most unexpectedly satisfying arc of any character in the film. He starts the film as a weird, lovable outcast and ends it as a beautiful misfit. His last song, as ridiculous as it is, hits me in the gut every single time I hear it. Fassbender took what was essentially a VO gig and somehow turned it into one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.

–Sailor Monsoon

85. Dick “Dicky” Eklund (Christian Bale) | The Fighter (2010)

Bale is one of cinema’s great chameleons. He can disappear into a character like few others and his dedication to transformation is unparalleled. The ever fluctuating wave of weight he’s lost, gained and lost again is legendary at this point. He goes the extra mile in a profession where “who can be the most dangerously extreme method actor?” is a question many people want to be the answer to. The man commits and one of his most impressive transformations is that of Dick “Dickie” Eklund in The Fighter. As impressive as the weight loss is — he doesn’t just lose weight for a role, he molds his body to whatever the character needs — it’s his depiction of an addict that’s the most impressive. He doesn’t just nail all the ticks and twitches, it feels as if he slipped into the body of an ex-boxer turned junkie. As good as Mark Wahlberg is in the movie, you never stop seeing Mark Wahlberg on screen. Bale disappears so completely in the role, that I forget this isn’t a documentary sometimes.

–Sailor Monsoon

84. Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig) | Son of Saul (2015)

Based in Auschwitz, Son of Saul follows the titular character Saul, as he goes about his daily job of salvaging goods from dead bodies, and cleaning the infamous concentration camp. It’s a horrendous life and the film portrays this by solely focusing on actor Géza Röhrig’s face. This really brings you into the world of Saul, for better or worse, as you study him for nearly 2 hours. It’s all show and don’t tell, with the entire filming revolving around Saul and his variety of emotions. Everything feels so personal because you are right there with him. It’s a unique and harrowing experience, all thanks to the disheveled main character. 

–Lee McCutcheon

83. Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) | The Skin I Live In (2011)

In terms of holding a grudge, not many do it better than Robert Ledgard. If you haven’t seen The Skin I Live In, it might be worth skipping to the next entry as it contains one of the craziest plot twists of the last few decades.

Played by Antonio Banderas, Ledgard is a renowned plastic surgeon and scientist. He is incredibly intelligent and even more determined. When he thinks his disabled daughter has been abused, the lengths he goes to to seek revenge are extraordinary. He is also a grieving husband and somehow manages to take these two issues and find a solution. An absolutely bonkers solution, but one that seems to satisfy him. Banderos is great in the role, and even manages to extract some sympathy from the viewer, regardless of Ledgard’s actions. 

–Lee McCutcheon

82. Officer K (Ryan Gosling) | Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Played by Ryan Gosling, Officer K is a complex character. He is tasked with the search and ‘retirement’ of outdated replicants. What makes this interesting is that K is a replicant himself. He starts off as an obedient and seemingly emotionless character, but as the plot progresses he starts to question everything from his own purpose, to the legitimacy of his history. Flashbacks and memories continually surface and haunt him throughout the film. K is played by Gosling with a poise that is not quite human, yet at the same time, he garners more empathy than many of the human characters. His transition from stoic replicant to a fully formed emotional being is fantastic. 

–Lee McCutcheon

81. Aron Ralston (James Franco) | 127 Hours (2010)

When the whole premise of your movie is a character spending 127 hours literally stuck between a rock and a hard place, that character better bring it or the whole movie is going to be lost. Aron Ralston delivers that as the protagonist of 127 Hours, a fun-loving guy that is jus trying to live life to the fullest when he suddenly finds himself in an unbelievable predicament with his arm crushed by a boulder, pinning him in place. James Franco’s performance has to come through for this unique take on a survival story where there is nowhere to go but inside Ralston’s head.

–Jacob Holmes

100-91 | 80-71

What do you think of the selection so far? Who are some of your favorite 2010s characters? Maybe they will show up further on the list!