Best Characters | The Best of 2015

Though an actor, animator, or visual effects team brings a character to life on screen, the true magic occurs before a single shot has been framed. The characters and the way that they grow or change throughout the course of the film, the way that we can care deeply for them within a 120-minute or so window, are one of the most magical experiences when it comes to film. These characters are the ones who most captured our hearts or left us stunned by their fullness.

Though an actor, animator, or visual effects team brings a character to life on screen, the true magic occurs before a single shot has been framed. The characters and the way that they grow or change throughout the course of the film, the way that we can care deeply for them within a 120-minute or so window, are one of the most magical experiences when it comes to film. These characters are the ones who most captured our hearts or left us stunned by their fullness.

It
5. It
It Follows
Created by David Robert Mitchell
Played by Various Actors

"It could look like someone you know or it could be a stranger in a crowd. Whatever helps It get close to you."
"It" was the perfect embodiment of David Robert Mitchell's It Follows mythological baddie. The fact that It could take any form It pleased made everyone and anyone a threat, and the ambiguous nature of exactly what this urban anxiety represented continues to give the film discursive weight. – Jeff Pearson
Riley
4. Riley
Inside Out
Created by Pete Docter and Ronnnie Del Carmen
Played by Kaitlyn Dias (Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, and Phyllis Smith as her emotions)

"Do you ever look at someone and wonder, 'What is going on inside their head?' Well, I know. Well, um, I know Riley's head."
For me, the fun in appreciating Inside Out is seeing the little girl and her emotions as one in the same; to never try and see the emotions as individuals or having their own agenda, however enticing unalloyed Joy or unbridled anger is. This is a movie that suggests that emotional compromise is the cornerstone of growing up, a point that Inside Out makes by letting Riley be the subject and the setting. – Brian Urrutia
Rey
3. Rey
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Created by J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt
Played by Daisy Ridley

"You will remove these restraints and leave this cell with the door open."
Another young Jedi from a meager upbringing, with no family or friends to speak of, and she’s a woman. You couldn’t ask for a more empowering and inspirational character for an audience today. – Jarryd Baxter
Kylo Ren
2. Kylo Ren
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Created by J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt
Played by Adam Driver

"By the grace of your training I will not be seduced."
Largely thanks to the fine work by Adam Driver, Kylo Ren is the most memorable character of the year for me. For almost 40 years now, the Star Wars villain has been Darth Vader. He’s probably the most iconic and famous villain of all time. Enter Kylo Ren, the new face of evil for this generation’s Star Wars, and he’s already as interesting and menacing as Darth Vader, if not more so. He’s astoundingly powerful and surprisingly vulnerable at the same time. He’s so unpredictable because we know so little about him which makes him intriguing. Is he Rey’s brother? Is he actually conflicted about the force or is it just an act? How did he freeze that laser in mid-air? Where did he get that cool light saber? I can’t wait to see what the future episodes have in store for him. – Anders Oster
Imperator Furiosa
1. Imperator Furiosa
Mad Max: Fury Road
Created by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris
Played by Charlize Theron

"When I yell 'fool,' you drive out of here as fast as you can."
There wasn't anyone badder than Furiosa all year. Charlize Theron leads the empowerment charge of six only fractionally less badass women across a desert wasteland in search of freedom and self amplification, but they come away with so much more. It's refreshing to see a character like Furiosa on the big screen and to see Mad Max: Fury Road celebrated for it so. – JP
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