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The Greatest Villains In Movie History : We picked Top 5

As we know, great villains are essential elements of a masterpiece. We’ve seen so many great villains throughout our film history, and it’s very difficult to pick the No.1. However, it would be a good opportunity for our writers to decide what our choices would be.

Check out our selections, and why we chose them.

Abe Friedtanzer 

  1. Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting in Gangs of New York
  2. Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  3. Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus in Gladiator
  4. Robert Patrick as T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  5. Gene Hackman as Little Bill Daggett in Unforgiven

These five villains are all motivated by different things, but there are two qualities that unify them: a desire to exert control and a laser focus on their targets. The T-1000 and Nurse Ratched in particular seek out any form of resistance and aim to quash it through brutal means, ensuring that no one else will stand up for fear of meeting the same fate. Like Nurse Ratched, Little Bill Daggett abuses his appointed authority to accomplish his goals and ensure that he remains in power. Commodus and Bill Cutting allow their dynamics to become personal, affronted by the challenge to their dominance by what they see as irritants who become only more enflamed by their oppressive actions. These five performances deservedly earned numerous accolades, surely because the portrayals are layered and complex even if the characters are unapologetically sinister.

Karen Benardello 

1. Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight

2. Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in It (2017) and It: Chapter II (2019)

3. Glenn Close as Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction

4. Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne in Gone Girl

5. Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Cinema’s greatest villains are all motivated by deep-rooted selfish needs, and as a result, are unconcerned about leaving destruction in their paths as they strive to achieve their goals. Some of the most intelligent antagonists to have ever appeared on screen are intelligent, cunning women, from Louise Fletcher’s oppressive Nurse Mildred Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, to Rosamund Pike’s manipulative, sociopathic title character of Amy Dunne in Gone Girl to Glenn Close’s captivating Alex Forrest, who broke down the gender norms in Fatal Attraction. However, their male counterparts have also commanded attention for causing more widespread, lasting destruction, including Bill Skarsgård’s destructively evil Pennywise in It, and its sequel It: Chapter II. But no villain will ever top the drastic, harrowing antics of Heath Ledger’s ruthless, unpredictable and disconcerting Joker in The Dark Knight, who seemingly has no clear motive for his determination to defeat his rival, Batman. Despite the drastically different reasons these five memorable antagonists have for their actions, they have all left a stunning presence in cinematic history, long after the credits rolled.

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

  1. Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in Misery
  2. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Psycho
  3. Bette Davis as Baby Jane Hudson in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
  4. Malcom McDowell as Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange 
  5. Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs

These legendary villains echo the fears of our time: the obsessive fan who makes you crave for utter anonymity; the psycho who can perfectly camouflage as a normal person; the jealous and capricious woman who vilifies you in all possible ways; the sociopath whose violent nature cannot be eradicated; and ultimately the serial killer who commits abominable murders.

Karen Butler 

1. Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goth in Schindler’s List (1993)

2. Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

3. Alan Rickman as The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991)

4.  Edward Norton as Aaron Stampler/Roy in Primal Fear (1996)

5. Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in It (2017) 

Fiennes is the personification of evil as he plays a real-life Nazi concentration camp commandant in director Steven Spielberg’s devastating historical drama about the Holocaust. Hopkins rightfully won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a brilliant psychiatrist, who is also a prolific serial killer and cannibal with charm, elegance and wit. Rickman steals every scene he is in as the hilariously over-the-top, corrupt lawman in a medieval adventure. Norton’s big-screen debut was a tour-de-force with him playing a stuttering, vulnerable Catholic altar boy with a vicious alter ego who butchers an archbishop. A demonic clown that feeds on children is literally the stuff of nightmares.

Matthew Schuchman 

1. Robert Duvall as Frank Hackett in Network

2.. Angela Landsbury as Mrs. Eleanor Shaw Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate

3. Ben Kingsley as Don Logan in Sexy Beast

4. Christopher Plummer as Harry Rieckle from Silent Partner

5. Robert Walker as Bruno Anthony in Strangers on a Train

When the word villain comes up in terms of movie baddies, too many people think of the same characters. Whether it was Darth Vader or the Terminator back in the day, or Thanos or The Joker now that comic book films rule the world. The really evil villains of the silver screen for me though, are the more true to life characters of despicable nature.  Bruno Anthony nonchalantly explains and demonstrates how to strangle someone at an upscale party like it’s the more normal thing to do. Harry Riekle uses a jagged broken fish tank to saw off someone’s head. Don Logan destroys the lives of everyone he knows, simply because no one loves him. Eleanor Shaw will let her own son burn for her wants and needs, and Frank Hackett…he has a man killed due to poor ratings. These are the true evils of the world who have few, and in most cases, no redeemable values. These are the real bad guys that people should be fearing.

Nobuhiro Hosoki 

  1. Hal  in A 2001 Space Odyssey
  2. Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs
  3. John Huston as Noah Cross in Chinatown
  4. Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  5. Gary Oldman as Stanfield in Leon : The Professional (Original title : Leon)

A movie villain comes in many shapes and forms. But what differs from the villains in the other movie is how they leave a permanent mark on your brain. How they gave the shiver or shattered your state of mind. When it comes to an unpredictable man who goes nuts in an instant, Stanfield as good as it gets. Then when it comes to control your mind, Nurse Ratched is one of my top choices. And Noah Cross, nothing more frightening when villain could be your family. Well, Hannibal Lector is the ultimate villain. At last, HAL. What could be most something that beyond human can reach, then it must be HAL. More than 50 years after the movie was made, considering how our life relies on A.I for the next decade, I think this might be a relevant choice. 

Nobuhiro Hosoki
Nobuhiro Hosoki
Nobuhiro Hosoki grew up watching American films since he was a kid; he decided to go to the United States thanks to seeing the artistry of Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange.” After graduating from film school, he worked as an assistant director on TV Tokyo’s program called "Morning Satellite" at the New York branch office but he didn’t give up on his interest in cinema. He became a film reporter for via Yahoo Japan News. In that role, he writes news articles, picks out headliners for Yahoo News, as well as interviewing Hollywood film directors, actors, and producers working in the domestic circuit in the USA. He also does production interviews for Japanese distributors of American films and for in-theater on-sale programs. He is now the editor-in-chief of while continuing his work for Japan.


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