Carrying on the yearly tradition of listing the characters which caused an impression-sometimes good, sometimes bad, always memorable-, 2018 is a bit different: the list stops at 5, instead of the usual 10. This is certainly not due to a decrease in offerings; watching 130 films per year provides many candidates for this list. It’s just I did not find myself drawn to many of them the way I did in years past. Whether that’s a byproduct of the emotional and mental anguish 2018 had on me is debatable, though the inclusion of not one, but two characters who end up committing suicide on screen might be telling.
The 5 most memorable characters in film, in alphabetical order:
Dean and Cindy – Blue Valentine
Making this list for the second year in a row, Ryan Gosling plays Dean, the once knight in shining armor to Michelle William’s Cindy. Alternating timelines between the effervescent exuberance of first love, and the soul crushing mundanity of living with the same person for the rest of days, Dean and Cindy make the picture come alive. You will never again listen to “You and Me”, by Penny and the Quarters, without thinking of the pair in a seedy motel. Raw and vulnerable, Dean and Cindy are the year’s most unfortunate role models, there to remind us that there’s more to love than the magical first kiss.
Jackson Maine – A Star is Born
Resigned and weary, he sighs “maybe I fucked that up”. All too familiar with his failures, Jackson Maine, as embodied by Bradley Cooper, stopped giving himself any credit a long time ago. He hates the bottle, but it’s the only way he can feel, even if it’s only shame, because something is preferable to nothing at all. Jackson Maine is the manifestation of my greatest fears, those nights in which God is nowhere to be found and which all I’m good at is messing up.
I’d name two actors who are unmatched at displaying differing levels of dejection. The first is Ryan Gosling, and the other is Joaquin Phoenix. The latter plays Joe in You Were Never Really Here, inhabiting a character that is full of sorrows, battling his demons with every breath he takes. There comes a point where watching Phoenix is actually discomforting, his character having already exhausted every possible outlet for his pain without finding any solace. And just when you think death is the only alternative, a girl reminds him that it is actually a beautiful day. If Joe can be saved, maybe so can all of us.
Patrick Kenzie – Gone Baby Gone
Patrick Kenzie sits at the couch next to the girl now found, and asks about her favorite doll Mirabelle. “Annabelle”, the little girl replies. The enormous effect of this one line cannot be stated without effectively summarizing the entire picture. Suffice it to say that it’s an added burden on Patrick, as he silently stares into a television screen, before everything turns to black.
Peter Graham – Hereditary
The scene which shocked every viewer that was brave enough to walk into Hereditary would not have been nearly as successful without the full, unbearable weight of regret that Alex Wolff brings to Peter in the seconds following an unspeakable tragedy. The camera, set on his frightened visage until it becomes his gaze, captures the pain of somebody with a million thoughts racing, each one concluding that his life will never be the same again. The way he asks, but doesn’t finish the question since he already knows, “are you okay?”, is haunting.