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The Thirteen Best Movie Villains of the Decade

By TK Burton | Lists | December 10, 2009 |

By TK Burton | Lists | December 10, 2009 |

Everyone loves to root for the bad guy. In movies, the bad guys usually get the best lines, and there’s something inherently fascinating about the pathos and psychosis that some writers are able to imbue in the most villainous characters. Sure, not all of them are as charismatic as others — some are just so flat-out terrifying and twisted that you definitely aren’t rooting for them — instead, you’re filled with a dreadfully morbid curiosity about what the hell they could possibly think of next.

Let’s be honest, the best movie villains are interesting. They allow us to see our darker fantasies on-screen, to give our nastier thoughts an outlet. The best ones are well-acted, well-designed, and range from the cold and calculating to the gleefully psychotic. They’re monsters either way, but sometimes it’s harder to tell. They’re what make movies interesting. And like I said — they get the best lines.

unbreakable_elijahprice.jpg13. Elijah Price/Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), Unbreakable (2000)

“Now that we know who you are … I know who I am. I’m not a mistake! It all makes sense. In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero, and most time’s they’re friends, like you and me. I should’ve known way back when. You know why, David? Because of the kids. They called me Mr. Glass.”

17556__collateral_l.jpg12. Vincent (Tom Cruise), Collateral (2004)

“If you open that trunk, they go inside.”

sexybeast1460.jpg11. Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), Sexy Beast (2000)

“What, you think this is the wheel of fortune? You think you can make your dough and fuck off? Leave the table? Thanks Don, see you Don, off to sunny Spain now Don, fuck off Don. Lying in your pool like a fat blob laughing at me, you think I’m gonna have that? You really think I’m gonna have that, you ponce? All right, I’ll make it easy for you. God knows you’re fucking trying. Are you gonna do the job? It’s not a difficult question, are you gonna do the job, yes or no?”

christianbalefilm_450x300.jpg10. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), American Psycho (2000)

“I have all the characteristics of a human being — blood, flesh, skin, hair — but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me, and I don’t know why. My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.”

Sir Christopher Lee Lord of the Rings Saruman.jpg9. Saruman (Christopher Lee), The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)

“Together, my lord Sauron, we shall rule this Middle-earth. The old world will burn in the fires of industry. Forests will fall. A new order will rise. We will drive the machine of war with the sword and the spear and the iron fist of the orc.”

training day SPLASH.jpg 8. Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington), Training Day (2001)

“To protect the sheep you gotta catch the wolf, and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.”

20779969_images1540798_8_Kill-Bill-Lucy-Liu_l.jpg7. O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Kill Bill: Vol I (2003)

“As your leader, I encourage you from time to time, and always in a respectful manner, to question my logic. If you’re unconvinced that a particular plan of action I’ve decided is the wisest, tell me so, but allow me to convince you and I promise you right here and now, no subject will ever be taboo. Except, of course, the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or American heritage as a negative is … I collect your fucking head. Just like this fucker here. Now, if any of you sons of bitches got anything else to say, now’s the fucking time!”

8073-27015.gif6. Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), Mission: Impossible III (2006)

“Who are you? What’s you’re name? Do you have a wife? A girlfriend? Because if you do, I’m gonna find her. I’m gonna hurt her. I’m gonna make her bleed, and cry, and call out your name. And then I’m gonna find you, and kill you right in front of her.”

serenity-movie-21.jpg 5. The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Serenity (2005)

“I’m sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault? … I’m not going to live there. There’s no place for me there … any more than there is for you. Malcolm … I’m a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.”

Voldemort.jpg4. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), The Harry Potter films (2001 - )

“I’m going to kill you, Harry Potter. I’m going to destroy you. After tonight, no one will ever again question my power. After tonight, if they speak of you, they’ll only speak of how you begged for death. And how I, being a merciful Lord … obliged.”

chigurh_cattlegunjpg.jpg3. Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), No Country For Old Men (2007)

“You know how this is going to turn out, don’t you? I think you do. So this is what I’ll offer - you bring me the money and I’ll let her go. Otherwise she’s accountable, same as you. That’s the best deal you’re gonna get. I won’t tell you you can save yourself, because you can’t.”

joker.jpg2. The Joker (Heath Ledger), The Dark Knight (2008)

“Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can’t savor all the … little emotions. In … you see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did.

… Would you like to know which of them were cowards?”

1. Captain Vidal (Sergi López), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

“You’d do better to tell us everything. But to make sure it happens, I brought along a few tools. Just things you pick up along the way. At first I won’t be able to trust you, but after I use this, you’ll own up to a few things. When we get to these we’ll have developed a … how can I put this? A closer bond, much like brothers. You’ll see. And when we get to this one, I’ll believe anything you tell me.”

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TK Burton is an Editorial Consultant. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.