The movies in 2007 were defined by dark, brooding, sinister actions, as the Oscar nominations reflected. With only “Juno” to brighten up the mood, movies about killers, oil men, lawyers, kidnapping, lies, war, the mob and singing killers dominated the year. So it is only fitting that the evil villains who lived in these movies were some of the defining characters of the movie year. As the list of best movie villains of all time increased more than ever, these are the creeps who made 2007 the movie year of the villains.
Daniel Plainview, “There Will Be Blood.”
In one of the very last movies to get out in 2007, Daniel Day-Lewis’s Daniel Plainview ended it with a bang from an exploding oil well. Plainview’s search for a big strike leaves every competitor down for the count, although preacher Eli Sunday takes longer to go down than most. He’s not even above using the only human thing he has any attachment to, his son, as a marketing tool. But the things that define Plainview before he loses his mind- his rise from nowhere, his ingenuity, his salesman tricks, his business savvy- are frighteningly human. The fact that those things also turn him into such a villain is what makes him more scary than a regular old monster. You may mistake it for going way way over the top, however.
Anton Chigurh, “No Country for Old Men.”
Even though Daniel Plainview has a few human characteristics, they are harder to find in the other movie villain to wear the “greatest new villain ever” label. In fact, some people were so freaked out by hit man Anton Chigurh, they doubted he was even a human being. They might have gotten that by the way Chigurh silently stalks his victims before blasting them with guns and oxygen tanks, and that he just keeps coming back for more. But Chigurh can bleed, especially near the end, so he might be human. The fact that a villain like Chigurh can come from humanity, as a symbol of the dark days of “No Country” is the whole point of the movie.
Anton Ego, “Ratatouille.”
Anton is perhaps the most evil villain of the movie year. Before Anton Chigurh gathered his body count, animated food critic Anton Ego gathered one of his own. Ego’s reviews were so nasty that they signaled the downfall of restaurants, and one of them even led to the death of the great chef Gusteau, the inspiration for cooking rat Remy. With his refusal to swallow food he doesn’t love, the fact that his office is shaped like a coffin- and the additional fact that he has the voice of Peter O’Toole- Ego strikes fear in the heart of any chef. But unlike everyone else on this list, Ego’s three sizes too small heart does find a way to grow.
Frank Lucas, “American Gangster.”
Unlike all but one other person on the list, Lucas is a real movie villain. As “American Gangster” showed, Lucas took control of the Harlem criminal underworld in the 1960’s and 70’s, using unique ways to get the best drugs. With a blend of street smarts and Wall Street like smarts, Lucas created an almost legitimate sounding empire, rising above the Mafia and even the police. Well, everyone except determined New Jersey officer Richie Roberts, who finally brought Lucas down. But to get himself back on the streets, Lucas made sure to take a lot more people down with him.
Robert Hanssen, “Breach.”
Here is another real life movie villain who caused an historic amount of damage behind the scenes of the CIA. At first glance, Hanssen appeared to be nothing special- a religious conservative frequently passed over and ignored by superiors, a dogged patriot, and a family man. That was enough to hide the fact that Hanssen sold secrets to the Russians and left lives and millions of dollars out to dry for about 15 years. It wasn’t until Hanssen was finally caught that the American people found out he was the biggest traitor in American history. The full extent of Hanssen’s damage, as well as his motives, are still classified, even from the movie made about him.
Eli Sunday, “There Will Be Blood.”
Daniel Plainview isn’t the only villain stalking the early 1900’s in this movie. Eli Sunday is by no means an imposing figure, even as he preaches at the top of his lungs in his church. But because of Eli’s own disturbed mind set, and that he’s able to instantly see Plainview for who he really is, he survives a lot longer than any of Plainview’s other enemies. Even when he’s frequently outdone, Eli manages to get up and get his own kind of vengeance, beating Plainview at his own game. But his longstanding rivalry with him only makes it much, much worse when Eli finally goes down for good…..and hard.
Nikolai, “Eastern Promises.”
In this movie about the Russian mob in London, Nikolai’s official job title is that of the family chauffeur, but it encompasses a lot more. He knows the best ways to clean up bodies, he provides a watchful eye over the boss’s unstable son, but he is still on the outside looking in….for now. Still, Nikolai is nothing like the villains he works with, or serves. In his encounters with Naomi Watts’s midwife out to uncover the truth, we’re never sure if he’s working just to keep the family secrets, or get her away before she gets in too deep, or both. Even when a few extra twists are discovered, it just deepens the unsolvable mystery of Nikolai even further. And he even fights good while naked.
Sweeney Todd, “Sweeney Todd.”
He may carry a tune, but this music man villain is no one you want to watch in close proximity. The former Mr. Benjamin Barker changed from all the years he spent wrongfully imprisoned, and set to make it right by killing the judge responsible. But as the newly christened Sweeney Todd fails to complete his mission, he passes the time by killing everyone else in his barber’s chair. But being an already mad and broken man, killing scores of people who aren’t the ones he really wants doesn’t do wonders for Sweeney’s mind.
Mr Brooks/Marshall, “Mr Brooks.”
Two villains that deserve the same spot, because they are the same person. Whereas serial killer Earl Brooks hates killing and would rather quit, imaginary alter ego Marshall delights in pushing Earl back into the game. And in between Earl’s worries and empty promises to go cold turkey, the two do have their fun killing and planning to kill. Besides, Marshall made clean cut and often stiff Kevin Costner into a villain, so you know he’s gotta be powerful.
Dishonorable movie villains that might have made the list if I saw their movies
Dolores Umbridge, “Harry Pottter and the Order of the Phoenix.”
Ben Wade, “3:10 To Yuma.”
Mrs. Carmody, “The Mist.”
Grendel’s Mother, “Beowulf.”
The United States of America, “In the Valley of Elah”, “Lions for Lambs”, “Rendition”, “Redacted”