Columns, Opinion

Flick Critique: Coolest male movie characters of all time

True coolness is something hard to come by in many movie characters. While many try this hard task, actors often fall flat, as it is visible they are trying too hard or simply lack what it takes to fully embody this elusive trait. Nonetheless, here are five actors that have shown audiences what being cool looks like in some of its many iterations.

First off, the unnamed driver from “Drive.” While perhaps many only know Ryan Gosling as the heartthrob from “The Notebook,” the actor has done several darker movies to rid himself of this public image. In “Drive,” Gosling is a driver who often goes beyond his job description and goes into the murder territory. However, what is most impressive about Gosling’s portrayal is that he manages to create such a cool character with minimal dialogue and without even having a name. This hard task is done so seamlessly, as the driver shows a full range of emotions, going from warm and loving to cold-blooded killer in the same scene, without even breaking a sweat.

Marcello Mastroianni is next on the list with his performance of Marcello Rubini in “La Dolce Vita.” Often considered one of the best movies of all time, this status could only be awarded to a movie with a stellar cast. In this film, the audience follows a paparazzo — a term coined from this film — for a week, as he searches for true meaning in his life. Constantly surrounded by women and alcohol in Rome’s decadent society, Rubini realizes he has to seek something greater, as all of these pleasures do not bring him the happiness he desires. All portrayed with an air of effortlessness, Marcello Rubini has to be one of the coolest characters ever.

In a sea of amazing characters in one of the most famous cult classics of all time, it is hard to stand out. Nonetheless, Samuel L. Jackson proved audiences how downright cool he is with his iconic Jules Winnfield in “Pulp Fiction.” Although director Quentin Tarantino is known for his mastery over dialogue, there are not many who can talk about hamburgers, throw around Bible scripture and discuss foot massages as well as Jules can. It is evident Jules is the king of monologues, using them to scare some kids into divulging information and even talking a couple out of robbing a bank. This utter power and confidence with words is a difficult trait to harness, but Jules’ expertise earns him a spot on this list.

When thinking about the greatest actors of all time, it is not a surprise that Marlon Brando is featured on this list. It is also not shocking to think that he played several iconic characters. From “A Streetcar Named Desire” to “On the Waterfront,” none have been as cool as in “The Wild One,” where he plays Johnny Strabler. The movie’s impact is immeasurable, but it has been noted as a major fashion and cultural influence. Strabler’s iconic style, which inspired James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause” and influenced Elvis’ rockabilly looks and music, also contributed to the whole teenage rebellion trope seen in many movies ever since. This immense significance and impact still seen today, however, was all due to Strabler’s unparalleled coolness.

Last on the list is the ultimate heist man of all time and was portrayed by one of the coolest actors of all time, George Clooney: Danny Ocean from the “Ocean’s” trilogy. Along with his skilled team, Ocean has managed to pull off three multimillion-dollar heists through meticulous planning and utter cunning. When the audience is grieving that his actions have all finally caught up to him, Ocean proves everyone wrong, demonstrating how he is always 20 steps ahead of his opponents. What makes Ocean so much cooler, though, is his air of effortlessness and nonchalance and his utmost calm, even when everything seems to be falling apart.

Evidently, being cool is much harder than one may think. Coolness goes beyond an outfit, profession or interests. Being cool goes beyond the material, but is rather embodied by someone who carries themselves with composure, confidence and self-awareness. This list is diverse in that all have a sense of self that is deeply ingrained, as they live pursuing something more and neglect to consider what others may think of them.

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