As the year comes to a close, it’s very easy to get caught up in the things that made this year in film (and in general) pretty bad. And there were a lot of them! But there were also a lot of things that made this year pretty damn fantastic, so I thought I’d count them down for us in the lead up to 2017.
To kick us off, 2016 was a huge year for characters we already know and love making it to the big screen, and an even bigger year for surprising and unexpected characters to steal our hearts. A film’s characters are always the most compelling and important part of any movie for me, so here is my Top Five Favourite Characters of 2016:
- Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison – Hunt for the Wilderpeople)
Resident skuxx and gangster, Ricky Baker stole the show in New Zealand film Hunt for the Wilderpeople, one of my favourite movies of the year. Played by the wonderful youngster Julian Dennison, Ricky is a foster kid with a heart of gold who gets up to all sorts of crazy antics with his foster Uncle Hec when they decide to go bush, warring against bumbling child services officer Paula. Ricky was effortlessly funny with his haikus and dancing, but also vulnerable as a child who’s been chewed up by the system, and Dennison balances this perfectly, creating a character who is incredibly close to home. Surrounded by veterans in director Taika Waititi’s and Sam Neill, Dennison stole almost every scene, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
- Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland – Captain America: Civil War)
Ever since Sony and Marvel announced that Spider-Man would be re-joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans have been on the edge of their seats waiting for his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War. As the year’s first billion-dollar movie, Civil War was spectacular, giving each character the perfect amount of time despite being jam-packed, and Tom Holland’s Peter Parker was by far one of the standouts. Holland’s youth allowed him to bring Peter something we’d never really seen before – a young Peter, who’s actually learning to deal with being a teenager and a superhero at the same time, and his chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. was so electric that Downey Jr will even appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming. But the highlight was his stunts: from his banter with Falcon and Bucky to his Empire Strikes Back takedown of Giant-Man, it was a joy to see Spider-man join the MCU. How far away is Homecoming?
- Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
Every single Harry Potter fan had been waiting for the day that a new Harry Potter film would come out – and this year we got our wish, when, on November 17th, we finally made our trip back to the Wizarding World. This time following a magizoologist named Newt Scamander (the delightful Eddie Redmayne), we got to explore 1920s New York as he sets out to recover some magical beasts that have escaped, with a sinister plot to expose magic to the Muggle World brewing under the surface. And though we were introduced to a marvellous cast of characters, including No-Maj Jacob Kowalski and witch Tina Goldstein, it was her sister, Queenie Goldstein, played by Alison Sudol, who stole the show for me. A beautiful legilimens (mind reader) with a kind heart, she owned her sexuality in a time when she wasn’t allowed to, and was lucky enough to find a man who saw past that – Jacob – and form a sweet friendship with him, as she introduced him to the Wizarding World. She may be an odd choice for many as a favourite character of the year, but she struck a chord with me, and with a now five-movie franchise in the works for Fantastic Beasts, I can only hope we get a lot more Queenie.
- Louise Banks (Amy Adams – Arrival)
Arrival is another of my favourite movies this year, and Amy Adams, who is one of my favourite actresses, absolutely shines in it as Louise Banks, a linguist who is brought in by the military to decipher an alien language when twelve alien vessels land all over the earth. Smart but selfish, brave but terrified, Louise is one of the most real characters I’ve ever known, and Adams gives her such a strength and vulnerability that had such an impact on me as I watched the film. And even as the film twists and her greatest power becomes the source of her tragedy, she still fights through it, standing strong. In a sci-fi film which could have easily centred on a man, Denis Villeneuve has made an absolutely outstanding, visually stunning film which would win all the Oscars in a perfect world, but I’ll just settle on Adams even being nominated for an Oscar because she gave the best performance of the year.
- Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool)
How could I not put Deadpool on this list? Even though Deadpool wasn’t quite the film I wanted it to be, it was still unbelievably good, mostly because of Reynolds’ performance as Deadpool. When a black market cure for his terminal brain cancer leaves his skin wrinkled like ‘an avocado had sex with an older avocado’ (thanks, T.J. Miller), mercenary Wade Wilson goes on a revenge mission against his torturer and becomes Deadpool, an unkillable man and anti-hero. As well as subverting the traditional origin story and giving it a harder, fourth-wall breaking edge, Deadpool’s success can be put down to Reynolds: his dedication to bringing the character to life the way he deserves and brilliant comedic performance as Deadpool is what made the film fantastic. As well as this, the film’s no-holds-bar humour, kickass hip-hop soundtrack and self-referential quality brought it over the edge to make it a refreshing comic book film that injected life into the dying X-Men franchise and gave Marvel Studios character envy. Plus, the cameo possibilities are endless, and after this year’s X-Men outing, Deadpool would surely have a lot of great material.
Honorable mentions go out to Kubo (Kubo and the Two Strings), Black Panther (Captain America: Civil War), Newt Scamander (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Eilish Lacey (Brooklyn) and Chirrut Imwe (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, purely for potential)!
What were your favourite characters of this year? Let me know in the comments below, and here’s to another great year of characters in 2017!
Photos taken from IMDB.com: