I try my hand at writing an Oscar Winner

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So, the Oscars were last night. Moonlight took home Best Picture, and it was inspirational and emotional and all that jazz. That’s all well and good, but it’s time to look ahead, and the 2018 Best Picture race is wide open. Well, I think it’s time I throw my hat in the ring. To give myself the greatest chance to win and Oscar (because that’s all that matters), I’ve studied previous winners and found some common plot points and themes that many share. Let’s see, the Academy usually gravitates towards unfortunate people. Mob movies typically do well. Musicals always have a shot. A tragic fall can help. I’m on the phone with Jennifer Hudson to get a powerhouse original song. Hmmm, I think I’ve got something here. Because I appreciate you, I’ll reveal some here to get the buzz going. So, I present a few select scenes from the upcoming film Carmine’s. I’ve already started writing my acceptance speech, and I’ll be sure to mention each and every one of you*.

(*I’m only going to thank myself for coming up with such a good idea).

 

CARMINE’S

Written by

Brian

EXT. CITY STREET-NIGHT

CHRIS and HEATHER are walking on the sidewalk, looking for a place to eat. They’ve been searching for a while now, and tensions are running high. A dimly lit Italian restaurant is on the horizon.

CHRIS

Alright, you’ve shot down the last five places we’ve walked by. So either you pick a place or we’re going to KFC.

HEATHER

Alright, sassy, jeez. Well if you want to eat so bad, let’s just go there.

CHRIS

Carmine’s? Seriously?

HEATHER

So I’m the one being picky? What’s the problem? It looks nice and cozy.

CHRIS

That’s because no one’s inside. No one’s ever been inside. That place has been open for like, 20 years and never had one customer.

HEATHER

Well, there must be a reason they’ve been open 20 years. I’m tired of walking around, so I’m going to eat there.

CHRIS

(rolls eyes) Fine. I’ll join you. We better get a free meal for being the first customers.

FADE OUT

MAIN TITLE SEQUENCE

EXT. SUBURB STREET-DAY

Pan downwards on a two story colonial as Smash Mouth’s “Story of my Life” plays. Sprinklers are going off as paperboy throws newspaper at house.

Cut to kitchen table. MARCO, a late 20s/early 30s Italian American, is glumly eating cereal. VALENTINA, his mother, is busily cleaning the kitchen.

VALENTINA

Marco, look at the time! You’ll be late for work!

MARCO

Mom, I got laid off. Again.

VALENTINA

(stops what she’s doing) From Waste Management?

MARCO

Mom, I haven’t worked for Waste Management in two years. I was at the hospital, remember?

VALENTINA

Oh, I’m sorry sweetheart. How many times is this, now?

MARCO

(mumbling) Five in the last five years.

VALENTINA

You’ve just had some bad luck is all. You know, this is why I say–

MARCO

I should have finished college, I know. It’s hard to finish when you get kicked out because someone with the same name got caught in a plagiarism scandal and the school expels you by accident.

VALENTINA

You could have gone somewhere else–

MARCO looks at his mother with sad eyes, and she gets the hint to back off

VALENTINA

Why don’t I ask your Uncle Dino if he can get you a job? You know he’s got the shipping company. And soft drink distribution company. And that restaurant–

MARCO

Please don’t. I don’t want to work for Uncle Dino. You know I hate being around him.

VALENTINA

You just hate all his body guards, is all. Here, I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll ask your Uncle Dino. You go out and look for a job. And we’ll see who gets one first.

MARCO

But–

VALENTINA

Listen, Marco, you know I love you with all my heart. But you’ve been living at home for a while now. Say what you will about him, but Dino knows how to be successful. I think you might learn something from him. Who knows, you make a little bit of money, too.

MARCO sighs and accepts his fate.

.

.

.

INT. CARMINE’S RESTAURANT-DAY

MARCO walks into an empty restaurant. DINO and three GOONS are sitting at a table near the kitchen doors in the back.

DINO

Marco, my boy, so good to see you!

DINO gets up to meet MARCO. DINO hugs an uncomfortable MARCO and gives him a kiss on the cheek.

DINO

Sit down, sit down. Anything I can get you? Food? Drink? I know you like the pasta fagioli.

MARCO

(sitting) No, thanks. I ate on the way over.

DINO

Nonsense. Paul, get him some soup.

MARCO

Oh, okay–

One of the GOONS goes to the kitchen.

DINO

I’m glad you came, Marco. Your mother told me you’ve been down on your luck lately.

MARCO

I’m just kind of…in between jobs right now.

DINO

Either way, it’s good you came to me. You’re my blood, and it’s time I start looking out for you. I didn’t think you had any interest in joining the family business, though.

MARCO

Yeah, I never really wanted to work at a restaurant before…

PAUL puts bowl of soup in front of MARCO

DINO

(looking sideways at GOONS) Err, right… Good news is, you won’t be busing tables or any of that nonsense. I want you to be the new manager of Carmine’s.

MARCO

(stunned) Did you say manager? But-but I don’t have any experience–

DINO

Ahh, this place practically runs itself, don’t worry. Listen, our family’s run this restaurant for as long as it’s been here. I’ve got a lot on my plate, and I am getting older. I think it’s time someone else takes over the place.

MARCO

Obviously I appreciate this, but I wouldn’t even know where to start. I can hardly do my own taxes, how am I going to run a restaurant?

DINO

You won’t be alone, Marco. Alfonso is still here to run the books. I’ll have my guys write up some instructions on the do’s and don’ts. You’ll be fine.

MARCO

If you really trust me to do it. I mean, Carmine’s has been around a while…

DINO

Marco, it’s an easy job. You sign a few papers, you talk to some guests, you take home a check. I think you’ll find this to be a very low-stress environment.

MARCO

I don’t want to mess up, though. I mean, I hardly see anyone in here anymore. How can I get business back up? What if we have to close?

DINO

(laughing) Marco, don’t you worry about that. Business is fine just the way it is, and as long as I’m around, this place’ll never shut down.

.

.

.

INT. CARMINE’S-NIGHT

MARCO has been on the job for a little over a week, and he’s starting to get the hang of it. Every night the same three or four regulars come in. Tonight, he’s making his rounds and comes to LUKA, an intimidating mob-boss looking older guy.

LUKA

Marco, how are you?

MARCO

(shaking hands) I’m doing well, Luka, how about yourself?

LUKA

I can’t complain. It was good of your uncle to give you Carmine’s. He’s a good man, your uncle.

MARCO

Oh, I know. I’m very grateful.

LUKA

So, how’re you liking it so far?

MARCO

I gotta tell you, it’s easier than I expected. I’m worried about the bottom line, though. We get deliveries all day long, and we only get a few customers a day.

LUKA

(chokes on his meal a little) I wouldn’t worry too much about those shipments, Marco. I’m sure Alfonso’s got them covered. And there’s something to be said for creating a family–

The door opens and two mid 20s WOMEN come inside. The REGULARS look immediately uncomfortable with the new faces. MARCO, on the other hand, is excited

MARCO

(walking over to greet them) Welcome to Carmine’s! Table for two?

WOMAN #1

Yes, please.

WOMAN #2

We’ve been looking forward to coming here all week. Our friend Heather told us about this place and we can’t wait to try it!

MARCO

Well, we’re thrilled to have you. Here, right this way.

CUT TO: Success montage. Word of mouth and Yelp reviews spread like wildfire as Carmine’s exploded in popularity. The dining room is full every night and, soon enough, there’s a waiting list to get in. It’s place to go to be seen. The REGULARS still get their usual tables, but don’t like the added attention one bit. Newspapers and local TV interview MARCO, who stays humble but still accepts all the credit for the newfound success.

.

.

.

INT. DIMLY LIT ROOM-NIGHT

DINO, LUKA, and many other high-ranking MAFIOSOS are sitting around a table. A few bottles of scotch are being passed around and at least half of them are smoking cigars.

LUKA

Dino, what are we gonna do about this? We can’t have this many people at Carmine’s! The TV station was there the other day, for crying out loud! What if they start poking around?

DINO

I understand your concern, but there’s really no need to worry yet. We’ve got plenty of time before we need to make any kind of move.

MAFIOSO #1

That nephew of yours is going to bring down the entire operation! Doesn’t he know what we’ve got stored in there?

DINO

No, he doesn’t. My sister asked me not to get him involved with our real business.

MAFIOSO #2

Then why is he running Carmine’s?!?!

MAFIOSO #3

Should I send my guys after him?

DINO

(defensive) Listen, the kid’s a screw up, alright! He’s a good kid but a screw up. I thought it’d be an easy thing for him to do. How was I supposed to know he’d do something good for once?

DINO’S goon PAUL runs into the room.

PAUL

Apologies, sirs, but we may have a problem. The boys from the 83rd Precinct just pulled up to Carmine’s for dinner. I can’t be certain, but Officer Smith almost always brings his dog with him everywhere he goes.

All eyes turn to DINO. LUKA slams his fist on the table.

LUKA

(growling) Dino you’d better find a solution to this right fuc–

DINO

It’s okay, Luka. (sighs) I don’t think he realizes it, but he’s the legal owner of Carmine’s. His dearly departed father was the original owner, and when he passed, his will gave Carmine’s to Marco. I never changed it because I figured it’d be a good out to have. Now that he’s officially both the manager and owner, he’ll take the fall. It pains me to throw the boy under the bus, but we should be able to skate by on this.

MAFIOSO #1

What about all the money we’ll lose?

DINO

We’ll make it back. Besides, this might be a good thing. It was always foolish to have such an important part of the operation be in a place where this could happen. We’ll come out of this fine in the long run.

.

.

.

INT. HOLDING CELL-DAY

MARCO and his LAWYER are sitting in a holding cell at the 83rd Precinct. Officer Smith did, in fact, bring his drug sniffing dog with him, and he started barking the second they pulled up. Thirty minutes later, the police had found the multiple tons of cocaine in Carmine’s kitchen and apprehended MARCO. The trial moved quickly.

LAWYER

It’s not looking good, Marco. I can’t get you out of prison time–

MARCO

How can this happen? I had no idea what was going on! Why don’t they believe me?

LAWYER

Well, it’s tough when you’ve been the legal owner for a few years, now. And they’ll never believe you didn’t know anything.

MARCO

But I didn’t! I knew Uncle Dino had some shady business, but I didn’t think it was a massive drug front. I can’t believe he’d sell me out like this.

LAWYER

I mean, he is a mob boss. Did you think he’d take the fall for you or something?

MARCO

I don’t know. I just can’t believe this is happening.

LAWYER

Well, as I was saying, I can’t save you from prison, but I might be able to get you to a white collar prison upstate. But you’ll have to start off in a real prison. I was able to save you from maximum security, at least.

MARCO

Gee, thanks. God, I’ve got to be the most unlucky guy of all time.

.

.

.

INT. PRISON CAFETIERIA-DAY

It’s MARCO’S first day in jail, and he just got first first tray of food. He finds an empty table and sits down. Across the room, BIG ED and his BOYS are watching intently. When MARCO is almost done eating, BIG ED approaches with a couple BOYS.

BIG ED

(sitting down across from MARCO) Haven’t seen you here before.

MARCO

Yeah, it’s my first day.

BIG ED

Ha! Some fresh meat, then! So what’d you do?

MARCO

I got framed for my uncle’s drug running operation.

BIG ED

Framed, eh? Well, we were all framed, too. Right boys?

BOYS all boisterously agree.

BIG ED

I can tell you’re a little lost. I’d be happy to take you under my wing and show you the ropes. Even offer you protection from some of the more…aggressive inmates.

MARCO

Really? What’s the catch?

BIG ED gives BOY #1 a nod. BOY #1 picks up some utensils and starts hitting them against the table to the tune of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.”

BIG ED

(singing) The club isn’t the best place to find a lover
So the bar is where I go
Me and my friends at the table doing shots
Drinking fast and then we talk slow

BOYS

Mmmm

BIG ED

(singing) You come over and start up a conversation with just me
And trust me I’ll give it a chance now
Take my hand, stop
Put Van The Man on the jukebox
And then we start to dance
And now I’m singing like

Boy, you know I want your love
Your love was handmade for somebody like me
Come on now, follow my lead
I may be crazy, don’t mind me
Say, boy, let’s not talk too much
Grab on my waist and put that body on me
Come on now, follow my lead
Come, come on now, follow my lead

BOYS

Mmmm

BIG ED

(singing) I’m in love with the shape of you
We push and pull like a magnet do
Although my heart is falling too
I’m in love with your body
And last night you were in my room
And now my bedsheets smell like you
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with your body

BOYS

(singing) Oh I oh I oh I oh I

BIG ED

(singing) I’m in love with your body

BOYS

(singing) Oh I oh I oh I oh I

BIG ED

(singing) I’m in love with your body

BOYS and MARCO

(singing) Oh I oh I oh I oh I

BIG ED

(singing) I’m in love with your body
Every day discovering something brand new
I’m in love with the shape of you

That’s all I’ll give you for now. I haven’t quite worked out the ending yet, but it’s gonna be big. The studios are all lining up to get the rights, and Joe Pesci agreed to be in it in some way the second I said the word mob. Oscars 2018, here I come!

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2017 Oscar Predictions

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

The Oscars. The ultimate night of glitz and glamor. The biggest gathering of established Hollywood elites and breakout stars you can find. For a true cinematic savant like myself, watching the Academy Awards is always a highlight of the year, despite how boring the show usually is and how often they get it wrong. Still, I’ll always love the Oscars, because I know it’s only a matter of when, not if, I’m invited (right now I’m aiming for a Best Supporting Actor nomination for my performance in Expendables 4).

As always, you’ve come to the right place for all things prescient. I’ve got a firm grasp on this year’s Oscars, and have decided to share my omniscience with all of you. Feel free to use these picks to make some money, impress at this year’s Oscars viewing party that I know you’re going to, or just to make yourself feel smarter. Now, have I “seen” all these movies? That’s up for debate. But, my silver screen bona fides are not. So, let’s go through every single category and predict the winner. To get you in the mood, here’s the best original song to never win an Oscar.

RIP Paul Walker

Best Supporting Actor

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Dev Patel, Lion (Isn’t the whole movie about him? How is he supporting?)

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (WINNER)- Yeah, I’ll admit I didn’t see Moonlight. In fact, the only movie out of all of these I saw was Manchester. But I know he’s gonna win. Trust me, I’m an expert.

Best Supporting Actress

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Viola Davis, Fences (WINNER)- Pretty stacked category here. Powerhouse performances all around. You could probably flip a coin between Viola and Naomi Harris. I will neither confirm nor deny that’s how I made my choice. Still, she’s deserving, and you’ll probably be seeing the 18 years scene in every acting montage from now on.

Naomi Harris, Moonlight

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Best Cinematography

La La Land

Lion

Silence

Arrival (WINNER)- I kind of just want Arrival to get some love, because that movie was awesome and I don’t want La La Land to win everything (even though I liked it). Pretty much every scene in the space ship was shot perfectly.

Moonlight

Best Animated Feature

My Life as a Zucchini

Moana

Zootopia

The Red Turtle

Kubo and the Two Strings (WINNER)- Kubo was awesome. Almost gave it to Red Turtle, but couldn’t do it.

Best Costume Design

Allied

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins

Jackie (WINNER)- Let’s go with this.

La La Land

Best Makeup

A Man Called Ove

Star Trek Beyond (WINNER) All I know is that I’m not giving anything to Suicide Squad.

Suicide Squad

Production Design

Passengers

La La Land (WINNER)- I can only deny the fact that La La Land is going to win every award for so long. The sets were excellent, though.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arrival

Hail, Caesar!

Best Adapted Screenplay

Eric Heisserer, Arrival

August Wilson, Fences

Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures

Luke Davies, Lion

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (WINNER)- Been a while since there’s been a good movie with crack as a main plot point. I’m thinking the Academy shares my nostalgia.

Best Original Screenplay

Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou, The Lobster (WINNER)- Most underrated movie of the year. Colin Farrell was snubbed in Best Actor and the movie itself was snubbed in Best Picture. This doesn’t totally make up for it, but it’s a start.

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Mike Mills, 20th Century Women

Best Documentary (Short Subject)

Extremis

4.1 Miles

Joe’s Violin

Watani: My Homeland (WINNER)- This has to be some kind of refugee story. That’s a surefire victory.

The White Helmets

Best Documentary (Feature)

Fire at Sea

Life, Animated

O.J.: Made in America (What is the audience that’s still clamoring for more O.J. material? Pretty much every year there’s a new book or a new show or something about him. Why? Whose O.J. appetite isn’t yet sated? What possible new information is out there? I’m pretty sure I can give an accurate and in-depth play-by-play of the trial at this point, and I never watch any of this things.)

13th

I Am Not Your Negro (WINNER)- Shocking titles are always in good shape to win. I’ll be worried if Life, Animated turns out to be a Holocaust movie, though.

Best Film Editing

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

La La Land (WINNER)- I honestly have no real clue how to judge editing anymore. Pretty much every cut and transition is perfect nowadays. Considering how important it is, I just judge it by what I thought the best movie I saw was.

Moonlight

Best Foreign Film

Land of Mine, Denmark

A Man Called Ove, Sweden

Toni Erdmann, Germany

The Salesman, Iran

Tanna, Australia (WINNER)- The poster for this looks like it could be about some Aborigines. If it’s not, this could easily become my worst pick.

Best Original Score

Jackie

La La Land (WINNER)- I wish Arrival got nominated, but since it didn’t, figured I’d give the best music award to the musical.

Moonlight

Passengers (This piece of shit got two nominations?)

Lion

Best Original Song

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land

“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls (God, I want to pick this so bad. Need Timberlake/Trolls to win an Oscar)

“City of Stars,” La La Land (WINNER)- Probably the safest call of all.

“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story (Is this a real movie?)

“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

Best Sound Editing

Arrival (WINNER)- Sure.

Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Sully

Best Sound Mixing

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (WINNER)- Why not?

Best Visual Effects

Deepwater Horizon

Doctor Strange (WINNER)- Legit some of the craziest, trippiest, and best effects ever.

The Jungle Book

Kubo and the Two Strings

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Animated Short Film

Blind Vaysha

Borrowed Time

Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Pearl

Piper (WINNER)- Hey, I’ve actually seen one of these! As usual, Pixar delivers the goods.

Best Live Action Short Film

Ennemis Intérieurs

La Femme et la TGV

Silent Nights (WINNER)- ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Sing (Not starring Matthew McConaughey)

Timecode

Best Director

Denis Villenueve, Arrival

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Damien Chazelle, La La Land (WINNER)- No better way to pad your Oscar stats than by making a good movie about the Magic of Hollywood.

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actress

Ruth Negga, Loving

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins (I’m so goddamn sick of Meryl Streep)

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land (WINNER)- I’ve heard Natalie Portman was excellent in Jackie (I wouldn’t know), but I’ll take Emma Stone, and not just because it’s the only movie of these I’ve seen. I always give out points for singing, and quality singing gets super bonus points. Add that to good acting and you’ve got yourself an Oscar winner, folks.

Best Actor

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge (I don’t really have a concrete reason, but I’ve deeply despised Andrew Garfield since the second I saw him. He just seems like such a pussy hipster douche. If I could have a real life feud with anybody, it’d be him. I’m not condoning bullying, but I wish I could bully Andrew Garfield.)

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Denzel Washington, Fences

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic (WINNER)- I’ve been #teamAffleck for as long as I can remember, but I will ride or die with Viggo. I’ve seen the Lord of the Rings movies about 1,000 times each, and Viggo gets the adrenaline pumping every time. Wouldn’t have minded if he put some of sword skills to use in this movie, since most of the kids were pretty annoying. Plus, my #teamAffleck membership is mostly for Ben, because Casey is a weirdo vegan hippy. Denzel could easily win, too.

Best Picture

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Fences

Moonlight

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

La La Land (WINNER)- Personally, I though Manchester was better. But, the Brian’s Den is totally unbiased, and cold, hard reality takes precedence over my own desires. La La Land is winning, whether you like it or not (I’m a sucker for musicals, so I loved it). Don’t rule out a surprise John Wick 2 win.

In Honor of John Wick 2- Top Ten Action Movie Characters

John Wick: Chapter 2 came out yesterday. I haven’t seen it yet but I already know it’s awesome because John Wick was so good. They could literally just CGI different actors into the first one and I’d be coming out of the theater thinking I’ve never seen anything like it. Obviously, to prepare for the release I’ve been re-watching the first one frequently, and it’s got me thinking of where John ranks among the all time action movie characters. So, I put together a top ten. I lost sleep for weeks over this. These flip-flopped so many times it’s not even funny. I wouldn’t be surprised if leaving some people out cost me my life.

This is based on a number of different factors: body count, best lines, best hair, signature moves, and general badass-ness and coolness. There are no limitations on actors having multiple entries. I also value quality over quantity. I won’t punish a character for appearing in a million movies (as you’ll soon see), but if a one-off character has a transcendent performance he gets priority over one who put in five average ones. Villains are eligible. I know I called this Best Action Movie characters, but this is bigger than genre. It’s a mindset. So characters from all genres of movies who show the requisite qualities are eligible, but not many do. Kill counts from AOBG and moviebodycounts.

Before we begin, I need to give out some Honorable Mentions because I want everyone to understand how difficult it was to make this list: Hans Gruber, Diehard (doesn’t get his hands dirty enough), Han Solo, Star Wars (one of my favorite characters ever, but too PG for this list), Indiana Jones (Ditto), Chad and Alex Wagner, Double Impact (I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest Van Damme guy, but I knew he was far too important to ignore. Not enough to crack the top 10, though), Ip Man (there’s so many great martial arts characters out there that check every box on the badass check sheet. But, most have the personality of a paperclip. Ip Man was an exception), Creasy, Man on Fire/ Robert McCall, The Equalizer (I wish Denzel would do more action movies. They all deliver), Harry Callahan, Dirty Harry series/ Man with No Name, Dollars Trilogy (shout out to one of the original action heroes Clint Eastwood), Leonidas, 300 (good body count and one-liners, but loses points for dying as the protagonist), Maximus, Gladiator (see- Leonidas), Jack Reacher (second best character to come out in the last few years. But he’s going up against some legends), Ethan Hunt, Mission Impossible franchise (the Tim Hudson of action stars- always good, never great), Machete (another tough cut. But those were some weird movies), Mason Storm, Hard to Kill (how do I leave him off the list? This top 10 better be stacked), Beck, The Rundown/ Chris Vaughn, Walking Tall (early Rock movies were so good), Stanley Goodspeed/ John Patrick Mason, The Rock (one of the best TNT movies ever), RoboCop (always felt like there was something missing with those movies), Neo, Matrix Trilogy (would have been better with a little more personality from Keanu (not a problem for another character)), Frank Martin, The Transporter (Jason Statham might be the most underrated action star ever), Dalton, Roadhouse (one of the all time cheesiest movies ever, but it’s high points are unreal), Steven Hiller, Independence Day (there was a time when Will Smith owned Summer more than anyone ever owned any season. Then he got married), Neville Flynn, Snakes on a Plane (easily one of the top ten lines of all time), President Marshall, Air Force One (get out of my top ten!), Riggs and Murtaugh, Lethal Weapon series (all time action duo), Batman (this is a character countdown, not an actor one. So the Batman character loses points for George Clooney), Dom Toretto/ Brian O’Connor/ Hobbs, Fast and Furious franchise (might be my favorite movie franchise ever. So many great lines, so many great moments, so much great action. But as action characters, they lack the singular badass-ness as the top 10), Tango & Cash (greatest one-off action duo and one of the most underrated movies ever), Cameron Poe/ Cyrus the Virus, Con Air (for my money, the second best action villain ever. Manipulative, arrogant, conniving, great lines, and personally killed a lot of people. Poe nearly makes the top 10 on the strength of his hair alone), Tommy Oliver, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Movie (held back by the fact that it was a kid’s movie. Could easily have run up a big time body count), Marion Cobretti, Cobra/ Judge Dredd/ Gabe Walker, Cliffhanger/ John Spartan, Demolition Man (the great Stallone roles that didn’t make the cut), Dutch, Predator/ Jack Slater, Last Action Hero/ Terminator/ Douglas Quaid/Houser, Total Recall/ Ben Richards, Running Man (respect the GOAT), James Bond (before Daniel Craig they were all kind of pussies).

Now, finally, to the top ten:

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10. Castor Troy, Face/Off

Perhaps the most electrifying two-man acting performance to ever grace the silver screen. Nic Cage turning it up to 100 is always reason to watch, but then when John Travolta tries to imitate Nic Cage turning it all the way up it becomes something more. It becomes the purest form of performance art that Louis Le Prince dreamed of when his camera recorded the first moving images. Castor himself checks all the boxes you would expect from an all time action villain. The great lines. The dastardly plan (his body count would be in the millions had his plan succeeded). A great crew. You know John Travolta’s hair always comes to play. Easily the most iconic late-90’s film villain, no matter the genre.

Best Line: I’m Castor Troy!

Kills: 26

Signature Move: Overacting

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9. Snake Plissken, Escape from New York/ Escape from L.A.

Any time the first video result that pops up in Google is (character) Badass, you know you’ve got something special. The first example I can think of of the Government turning to the best criminal when their own guys can’t get the job done, Snake serves as the template for every pretty much every criminal-with-a-heart-of-gold anti-hero that came after him. Bonus points for using multiple weapons for kills, making an underhand three-quarter court shot in Escape from L.A., and huge, huge bonus points for having by far the best hair on the list.

Best Line: Call me Snake

Kills: 36

Signature Move: Pointing his gun skyward while turning his head towards the camera with a scowl/smirk on his face while smoking a cigarette.

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8. The Bride, Kill Bill

The only woman on the list gets in mostly on the strength of her elite body count. Depending on where you look, you get anywhere from 62-76. Let’s go with 70. That’s crazy high for a non-Stallone/Arnold character (but not the highest. We’ll get to him later). She has some of the most beautifully choreographed fight scenes and gets bonus points for some sweet katana kills, a very underused weapon these days. Her personality is decent for a pretty standard revenge flick, and she’s about as cool as a married woman can be.

Best Line: As I said before, I’ve allowed you to keep your wicked life for two reasons. And the second reason is so you can tell him in person everything that happened here tonight. I want him to witness the extent of my mercy by witnessing your deformed body. I want you to tell him all the information you just told me. I want him to know what I know. I want him to know I want him to know. And I want them all to know they’ll all soon be as dead as O-Ren.

Kills: 70

Signature Move: Somehow not getting killed when surrounded by about 50 people with swords

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7. Jason Bourne, Bourne Series

Even though I biased towards Matt Damon, Jason Bourne is an easy pick for the list. Even in a series that prides itself on gritty realism, he’s still superhumanly badass. Probably the smartest character on the list, he outwits the blackest of black ops forces four movies in a row. Has a surprisingly low kill count, but if you add in all the random henchmen he knocks out, he’s right up there. He’s top three most creative and innovative action hero ever, and can teach MacGyver a thing or two about using one’s surroundings.

Best Line: I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab or the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?

Kills: 43 (21 in Jason Bourne)

Signature Move: Breaking your humerus

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6. Bryan Mills, Taken Series

This is where my objectivity becomes impressive, because Bryan Mills might be my second  favorite action character ever, but I’m willing to admit he’s only number 6 on the list. Spent three movies killing countless guys that look like Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets with his bare hands and the butt of his gun. The ultimate example of what happens when grizzled badass-ness meets dad-strength. Every line he delivers has the perfect mix of steely malice and fatherly concern. Near superhuman spacial awareness and never loses his cool under any circumstances. In a rare twist, his killing sprees end with him saving someone, rather than for pure revenge.

Best Line: I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you. (What else?)

Kills: 72

Signature Move: Throat chop

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5. John Rambo, Rambo Series

Culturally, the second most important character on this list. His name now synonymous with gung-ho, reckless, take-no-prisoners violence, what started as a critical look at a soldier’s life after combat turned into the most graphic and gratuitously violent franchise this side of Friday the 13th. And personally, I’m more than okay with that. The most prolific murder ever, when you see his final kill count keep in mind that he killed one (1) person in First Blood. The originator of the One Man Army genre and the ultimate backwoods badass, Rambo’s impact can be felt in pretty much every facet of American culture. So why isn’t he higher? Well, this countdown takes every facet of a character into account. After First Blood, Rambo doesn’t show a whole lot of personality. He’s like a cardboard cutout of a man who can magically operate a mini-gun. It took me about an hour to come up with his best line, and it wasn’t because there were so many to parse through. Nonetheless, both Rambo and Stallone are legends. Points for consistently good hair.

Best Line: When you’re pushed, killing is as easy as breathing

Kills: 442 (!!)

Signature Move: Killing with giant knife/M60/bow

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4. Aragorn, Lord of the Rings trilogy

When determining the best action characters, it’s important not to judge someone by the purity of their genre, but by the content of their character. The Lord of the Rings movies aren’t necessarily what you think of when it comes to action movies, but all three have more traditional action that First Blood did. And Aragorn brings all the qualities you need: ultimate badass warrior, uses swords, skilled tracker and survivalist, decent hair when it’s not wet and greasy. What he lacks in witty one-liners he makes up for in stirring speeches. Might not matter too much in the lone-wolf world of action movies, but he’s the best leader in movie history. Not many kings make the list, so that has to count for something.

Best Line: We will not abandon Merry and Pippin to torment and death. Not while we have strength left. Leave all that can be spared behind. We travel light. Let’s hunt some Orc.

Kills: Depends on where you look. Somewhere between 60-108

Signature Move: Beheading

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3. John Wick, John Wick

It took all the willpower I had not to put the Boogeyman number one. He might have made the list if he never killed anyone based on the way the Russians talk about him in the first half hour of the movie. Twenty years from now, we’ll be talking about John Wick the same way we talk about Rambo and the true number one on the list. He’s an instant legend. A maestro with a pistol, he dishes out headshots with reckless abandon. His abilities border on superhuman, and no injury slows him for more than five minutes. Highest single movie kill count of anyone not played by Stallone or Schwarzenegger. Keanu Reeves’ trademark wooden deadpan was made for action movies. The reason John Wick is rewarded for his excellent stoicism but Rambo is punished is that Rambo in First Blood was a real person, then devolved into a silent killing machine. Good hair and is always well dressed.

Best Line: People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer. But now, yeah, I’m thinkin’ I’m back.

Kills: 80 (Haven’t seen 2 yet)

Signature Move: Headshot

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2. John Matrix, Commando

Absolute peak Schwarzenegger. His best role, bar none. The Picasso of one-liners, he takes sentences that come off as horribly cheesy, insufferable puns when uttered by lesser men and molds them into pure poetry. John Matrix takes that skill to the absolute extreme, delivering verbal gold after every kill. And he kills a lot of people. The platonic ideal of the 80s action hero: gigantic physical specimen spews pithy lines as he mercilessly revenge-kills everyone in his wake while also squashing a South American military coup. Now that John Wick 2 is out, Matrix stands as the best one-movie action character ever, and the best character from the first era of action movies.

Best Line:

Kills: 102

Signature Move: Impaling with a steam pipe

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1. John McClane, Die Hard Series

In the world of action movies, there’s two eras: Before Die Hard and After Die Hard. John McClane stands as arguably the most influential film character of all time. Almost every action movie to come out after Die Hard borrowed something from it. Hero singlehandedly takes out bad guys who are holding someone/somewhere hostage. Wisecracking smart-ass takes down foreigner. Badass on vacation is dragged back into the fray. How many times have you seen any of those scenarios if you really think about it? A million? Not that I’m complaining. McClane has everything: badass cop who plays by his own rules, rough exterior with a soft side, creative use of space and weapons, clever lines, and a superhuman ability to never die. In every Die Hard movie, he should die at least three times, but he doesn’t (has anyone looked into whether Unbreakable is the secret prequel to Die Hard?). He even has hair, which still seems weird to me. Bruce Willis is the most natural bald guy ever. Gains points for still standing out every movie despite always having great characters around him.

Best Line:

Kills: 59

Signature Move: Dying hard