Top 10 Movie Villains of the last 10 Years

I was watching some good movies this weekend with what I thought were very strong villain characters.  This got me thinking about what were the best villain characters that had come out recently and so I came up with this list.

Why 10 years? Well, I didn’t want to have to search forever to try to come up with an “all-time” list, and it also makes the list a little more current, movies and series that are out now.  It also represents the first 10 years of the 21st century (or close enough, the 21st century started in 2001, but work with me here).  These all come from movies I have seen (most multiple times) so I’m sure there are others from movies I haven’t seen yet.  Obviously this is just my opinion and we all have one.  On to the list.

Honorable Mention: Patrick Bateman – American Psycho
Christian Bale – 2000
Why the honorable mention? Well, I saw this movie on the list and immediately thought of Bale’s iconic character, but I haven’t actually seen the movie, so I have a hard time ranking him 1 through 10 even though he probably belongs on the list.

#10: Lucian – Underworld – Michael Sheen – 2003
Later in the series, we discover Lucian may not be so bad after all, but in the first movie in the series he is certainly portrayed as the villain as the leader of the Lycans in this Vampire vs Werewolf battle epic.  Ironically, Sheen will later appear as the leader of the Vampires in the Twilight series.  Yeah, he’s that good.

#9: Det. Alonzo Harris – Training Day – Denzel Washington – 2001
One of the few times (to my knowledge) Denzel plays a bad guy and he played it very well, to the tune of a Best Actor Oscar.  A corrupt cop who believes he is above the law and untouchable.  He plays both sides and uses his green rookie to his advantage and tries to recruit him into the life.

#8: Agent Smith – Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions – Hugo Weaving – 2003
We first meet Agent Smith in 1999’s The Matrix but he really expands his role in the second and third movies, both released in 2003.  He is free of the system and has learned to copy himself and he begins to literally take over the world.  He also figures out how to cross over from the computer world to the “real world” where he can fight Neo as a human.  His sinister, deadpan delivery will get under your skin.

#7: Victoria – Twilight and New Moon – Rachelle Lefevre – 2008, 2009
James may be the dangerous one, but Victoria is definitely the brains of the operation in the three nomadic vampires from Twilight.  Victoria comes back in the second movie to chase the Cullen’s once again.  Very aggressive with no regard of human life, what you would expect from an immortal vampire.

#6: Saruman the White – LOTR: The Two Towers – Christopher Lee – 2002
Lee drips evil with his deep booming voice and also pulls one of the classic villain moves where he appears to be helping Gandalf, but then attacks and imprisons him.  Doing the bidding of the mentioned by not seen Sauron, Lee takes top villain billing in this one.

#5: Chancellor Palpatine – Star Wars:Ep 2 & 3 – Ian McDiarmid – 2002, 2005
The scratchy voice, the feigned weakness, the gentle, subtle guiding of Anakin to the Dark Side.  One classic villain begets another classic villain right? McDiarmid certainly does as he reprises his role from a past (future?) episode, Return of the Jedi and becomes the driving force to transforming Anakin into one of the classic villain’s of all time; Darth Vader.  His public persona depicts a Senator/Chancellor very concerned with the health of the Republic, while in the shadows he moves his chess pieces across the board in a bid for total control of the galaxy.

#4: Col. Tavington – The Patriot – Jason Isaacs – 2000
In the larger scheme of the Revolutionary War, Lord General Cornwallis is certainly the villain, but Isaac’s character in The Patriot is downright diabolical.  Family name trashed, out for glory and bloodlust, breaking all the rules and not caring about the body count.  Women, children, slaves, freedmen, no one is spared Tavington’s sword.  From killing Martin’s sons, to burning an entire church full of innocent civilians.  His disdain for human life comes to a head as he asks Martin about his own son, “That stupid little boy… Did he die?”  Cold, unadulterated evil.

#3: Hannibal Lector – Hannibal – Anthony Hopkins – 2001
The original Silence of the Lambs (1991) doesn’t fit into our 10 year timespan, but we still manage to get Dr. Hannibal Lector onto the list from 2001’s sequel Hannibal.  Brain eating, disembowling, man eating pigs, everything you would expect from a cannibalistic film.  Cold, brooding, intelligent to the point of madness, Lector slowly and carefully plots the demise of his victims and enjoys every minute of it.  Doesn’t hesitate to kill after you have outlived your usefulness.

#2: Lord Voldemort – Harry Potter 4 and 5 – Ralph Fiennes – 2005,2007
He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named finally makes his appearance at the end of the 4th Harry Potter film and he does not disappoint.  Disfigured face, whispery breathy voice, bony skeleton like appearance.  The dueling scenes with Harry (GoF) and Dumbeldore (OoTP) are classic good versus evil showdowns.  Voldemort is quiet, almost polite which just makes him even more ruthless as he mercilessly kills anyone and everyone in his path.  He returns in the upcoming finale of the series The Deathly Hallows parts 1 (2010) and 2 (2011).  The opening line of the trailer already gives me chills… “Harry Potter.. The boy who lived.. come to die.”

#1: The Joker – The Dark Knight – Heath Ledger – 2008
Ledger’s epic performance of The Joker was as scary as it was brilliant, although sadly one of his last performances.  If The Joker doesn’t scare the hell out of you then there is something wrong.  His personality switches like a light-switch from quiet and calm to cackling like a hyena; criminally insane, yet seemingly still in control of most of his faculties.  Ledger manages to embody all of the quirks and even throw in a few shocks along the way like the suddenly loud and deep booming “LOOK AT ME!” in the hostage video.  A man with literally no identity and “nothing in his pockets but knives and lint” manipulates people to do his bidding, sometimes against their will and also while making them think they are doing what they want.  Super intelligent mixed with a little madness dances on both sides of the very thin line separating genius and insanity.

And there we go.  Feel free to toss in other names in the comments, there’s so many great roles to choose from, really hard to narrow it down.

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Restaurant Shockers

Another interesting article from Active.com that I’m not so sure is really put together all that well.  Some of it I think is bad advice period and some of it I think is a little over the top.

Here’s the article: http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/The_Diet_Detective__Restaurant_shockers_–_you_think_you_ordered_healthy_.htm?cmp=18-258&utm_source=sendible&utm_medium=feed

I realize the gist of the article is dead-on, some stuff you order at restaurants may not be as healthy as you think, even when it’s prepared in the traditional “healthy” ways such as grilled or broiled.  Having worked in a kitchen I can tell you this is probably pretty accurate, but looking at the examples they give what the heck are they talking about? It sounds like they are describing a five star restaurant in NYC.  Dishes partially cooked to be finished for table service later? Cream sauces and wine sauces mounted with butter? Grilled veggies marinated for days in oil? This does not describe any restaurant I know of in North Carolina.  I’m sure there are places like this in swanky neighborhoods in Downtown Charlotte and Raleigh but obviously I’ve never been there.  Steaks drowning in butter? Yeah, Ruth’s Chris does it that way, but I’ve only been there twice in my whole life and who is going to eat healthy when you are celebrating college graduation?

The problems I have with the article is I think most of the advice is stupid.  First off, why are you eating at a fancy restaurant in the first place if you are concerned with your diet?  The author may be correct that the oil on something like grilled fish may add 100 calories, but she’s describing a 3000 calorie dish (yes, even with “healthy” fish).  You can’t eat this stuff everyday.

Second, the “i just got back from the hospital and I need to eat it this way” advice is double stupid.  If you were truly back from the hospital, again why are you eating at a fancy restaurant, and they are going to know you are lying if you don’t even remotely look sick.  Make a cook mad and your food will be terrible.  They will “forget” about it on the grill until it’s overcooked and dried out.  And even if the cook’s not mad at you the server will be.

Surely most people can find a local restaurant that makes fresh veggies and doesn’t drown everything in cream sauces and it will be healthier than what she describes in this article.  Still when you go out to a restaurant caveat emptor, grilled may not be as healthy as you like it, but then again you should have stayed home and made it yourself.  My wife and I don’t eat out anymore for both financial and health reasons.  We cook at home and we know exactly what is in every bite.

Trans Fats and why to Avoid them

I would be remiss if I talked about butter vs margarine and oils and whatnot and I didn’t mention Trans Fats which is one of the hot button topics du jour.

Fats are hydrocarbons (like oil and gasoline) meaning they are built upon a backbone of Carbons and hydrogens.  If you have a single bond between the carbons then each carbon has 2 hydrogens attached to it (if it’s in the middle of the chain, 3 if its on the end).  -H2C-CH2- for example.  This is called a saturated hydrocarbon, since every available spot has a hydrogen.  If you have a double bond between the carbons there is one less spot for hydrogens and the carbons around the double bond with only have 1 hydrogen each. -HC=CH- for example.  This is called being unsaturated.

Fatty acids in food are made of of a glycerol molecule with three hydrocarbon tails.  Different combinations of saturated and unsaturated tails give the fats their characteristics and why some fats (beef fat, pork fat, vegetable shortening) are solid and some fats (olive oil, peanut oil, etc) are liquid.

I can’t draw it here, but the hydrogens can be in two configurations around the double bond.  The “cis” configuration means that both hydrogens are on the same side off the double bond.  Both top, or both bottom.  This causes a bend in the carbon chain.  In the “trans” configuration they are opposite each other.  One top and one bottom.  This keeps the chain straight.  Trans fats are very rare in nature although they do occur in animal fats in very very small quantities.  The bent chains can’t stack on top of each other, which is what keeps unsaturated fats liquid.

When they hydrogenate unsaturated vegetable oils, they break the double bonds and add hydrogens in the empty spots.  This turns an unsaturated fat into a saturated fat.  This in itself is not a problem, however some forms of hydrogenation have been known to form small amounts of trans fats where the hydrogens get switched around but they don’t break the double bonds.

Why is this bad? The reason this is bad, is because the now straightened chains will stack in with the other saturated fats.  Your body will see them as saturated and store them as such.  This leads to a problem where you have double bonds in with saturated fats and some chemicals can break these double bonds and oxidize them (hence why we eat antioxidants) and this can lead to cancer.

Is this something you should worry about? At this point, no probably not.  The swift actions of food companies have pretty much eradicated them from the food supply and also they won’t really hurt you in small quantities.  Both of the margarines I have in my fridge have Zero Trans Fats.  I have seen some products with 0.5 to 1 g of trans fats but I’m sure before long those will be gone.

Our college professors told us to never use Wikipedia as a source, but it’s easier to access online then trying to scan in a textbook, so for more info on Fatty Acids check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatty_acid

Butter vs Margarine

In the quest to lose weight the first thing to end up on the chopping block is always fat.  But recently there has been much debate about oils and fats and their effects on our health.  Good fats? Bad fats? Trans fats? Cholesterol?

On our last trip to the grocery store my wife told me her doctor advised her to lower her cholesterol (as she reached for the skim milk, we had been drinking 1%), and as she planned to do some baking she grabbed a box of stick margarine.  Looking at the box it dawned on me that being made from vegetable oils, margarine has no cholesterol.  Could it be possible that margarine, which has a horrible reputation, could be actually healthier than butter?

We have two types of margarine in our fridge right now, the aforementioned stick margarine (Labeled 53% vegetable oil spread) which contains 7g of fat, 1.5g sat. fat, 2 g mono-unsat, 2g poly-unsat, and Country Crock Light tub margarine (labeled 39% vegetable oil spread) with 5g fat, 1.5g sat 2.5g poly, 1.5g mono.  Both with no cholesterol and compared to 11g of fat in butter.

A lot of people look at margarine as “fake butter”, but at least in the realm of “processed foods” margarine is pretty tame, considering it only has 2 ingredients usually, vegetable oil and water (perhaps some antioxidants added like BHT and THBQ).

So which would you prefer? Go natural with real butter, go low fat with Light margarine or avoid them both like the plague?

Sugar Addiction

Ran across this interesting article on sugar addiction on Yahoo Health.  Reading through it I’m not sure it has a lot in common with hard core drugs, but I’m sure it’s very similar to eating disorders and alcoholism.

10 Tactics for Overcoming Sugar Addiction

Honey Chicken Tender Salad

This dead easy recipe was inspired by the grilled chicken salad from TGI Fridays.  When I wanted to make one at home I whipped one up using what I had in the fridge.  A little different (uses breaded chicken) but still delicious.

When I looked for chicken, what I had was Tyson Honey Breaded Chicken tenders.  We always have these, I love the crust on them (thin like a beer batter) and the flavor.  They bake up in the oven in about 10 minutes.

Now the fun part, make a salad with whatever you like.  For me it’s lettuce or salad mix, cheese, croutons and light ranch.  Cut the chicken tenders in half and toss them on top of the salad.  Yes it really is that easy.  The warm crunchy chicken goes great with the cool crisp salad.  It’s so easy to put together, takes about 10 minutes.  Quick dinner and side dish all at once.  This is one of my go to “Wife is out of town” dinners.  It’s not that I can’t cook, but it’s a quick dinner for one.  No worrying about spoiled leftovers or 5 pots to wash.

Give it a try.. You won’t be disappointed.  And as always, be creative! Add whatever you want.

  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.