And now, without much further ado, the top 5 characters in film.
5. The Political Journalists
Carl Bernstein (played by Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (played by Robert Redford) in “All the President’s Men” (1976)
At the risk of sounding trite, how can you go wrong with Hoffman and Redford?
Furthermore, the perseverance and moxie of the two Washington Post journalists are that of legends-literally, they made history. The two newspaper reporters represent true investigative journalism and a revolutionary media confrontation with the government. Both characters have what it takes to be great in a field that many currently claim is facing an alleged demise. As print journalism is constantly being regarded as outdated, sometimes simple movie characters can be a beacon of hope for the old school writers. In an age of anonymity and lack of accountability, a nostalgic look back on great characters such as Bernstein and Woodward can remind us of what journalism used to be.
Pakula, Alan J. (Director), & Coblenz, W. (Producer). (1976). All the President’s Men [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Bros.
4. The Talentless Tabloid Bitches
Regina George, Gretchen Wieners, Karen Smith and Cady Heron (played by Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfriend and Lindsay Lohan) in “Mean Girls” (2004)
As writers of the high school-ego destroying “Burn Book,” these vapid and painfully inarticulate teens’ work is so influential, it manages to cause a school-wide catfight, issue a warrant on a math teacher, and generate a self-help session led by Tina Fey. How else do you measure success? And let’s not forget the line that was so insightful, it was plagiarized: “Too gay to function.” Apparently Cady’s talent is comparable to Lindsay’s. In this case, it’s not the writing that makes them great, but sometimes more importantly, the impact it has.
3. The Prodigious Playwright
Margot Helen Tenenbaum in “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001)
Prodigy playwright Margot Helen Tenenbaum received a $50,000 grant in 9th grade, but is perhaps even more eccentric due to her secret desires, banal love affairs, underground history of past marriages, idiosyncrasies, the not-so-appropriate love for her brother, and a partially missing finger. No matter her successes, she can never please her father, or perhaps even herself, representing the sometimes tormented and ominous characteristics of a brilliant writer. Never cracking a smile, yet comically entertaining, Margot shines as the brightest amongst a family of precocious stars.
2. The Patriarchal Rock Journalist
Lester Bangs (played Philip Seymour Hoffman) in “Almost Famous” (2000)
He is the mentor of one of the most famous rock journalists in film, and his words of wisdom can be applied to almost any medium. He cautions 15-year-old rock reporter newbie William Miller of the dangers of traveling with rock stars and the perks and pitfalls of entertainment writing. In an act of good faith, Lester grants William the opportunity of a lifetime every writer dreams of—reporting for the pinnacle of their genre (i.e. Rolling Stone magazine). He remains accessible via telephone for the innocent teen, truly portraying an advisor only few writers are privy to. Lester is honest, fair and despite his limited scenes, an iconic writer character for the rock genre.
Crowe, C. (Director & Producer). (2000). Almost Famous [Motion Picture]. United States: DreamWorks.
1. The Villainous Typist
Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” (1980)
Of course Jack is at the top of the list—everyone else doesn’t stand a fighting chance against a psychopathic killer.
One month at the Overlook Hotel was enough inspiration for alcoholic and abusive writer Jack Torrance to type hundreds and hundreds of pages (in various layouts, nonetheless) of some of the most memorable lines in film: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” He’s evil, he’s a genius, and he’s the best film has yet to offer-- regardless of his finite vocabulary and personal struggle with versatility.
Stanley, K. (Director & Producer). (1980). The Shining [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Bros.