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Top 10 Favorite Film Protagonists

Top 10 Favorite Film Protagonists

Edward Norton as Derek Vineyard

Matt’s Top 10 Favorite Film Protagonists

The protagonist is the main character of the film. There are sometimes multiple protagonists in a film, but they are always the characters we cheer for and fall in love with. For many years, protagonists have gone on journeys, fought through roadblocks, and survived climaxes, entertaining us to the very end. Sometimes the protagonist doesn’t survive, but their legacy and their arc inspire others. Sometimes the protagonist is a bad guy, yet we still feel empathy for them, letting us recognize their pure humanity.

The protagonist is what a film centers around. The goal, characters, emotions, obstacles, and plot points all revolve one (or multiple) character(s). It’s whom we need to follow to understand the story and understand the universe. Some films fail because their story is strong but their protagonist is completely shallow and weak. We all have our favorites, and we all have the ones we hate. Today, I’m talking about my top 10 favorite film protagonists.

These are the characters I never get tired of, and the ones I connect with the most. They fill their films with charm, character, emotion, and sorrow, immersing you in their world. That’s why we go to the movies: to be immersed in another universe. These characters do their jobs of leading us through those universes – all the way to the pure satisfaction in the end.

#10. Jimmy ‘B-Rabbit’ Smith – 8 Mile

Eminem as Jimmy ‘B-Rabbit’ Smith

Eminem as Jimmy ‘B-Rabbit’ Smith

Eminem might be one of the most famous hip-hop artists, but he proves he has acting chops in this film. With a basic plot and simple character development, Jimmy Smith is great protagonist who defies all of the odds. It’s rewarding to watch a struggling artist go for it all, defeat his forces of antagonism, and lead you to an iconic climax that fills you with satisfaction and joy. I love this film, even if it isn’t the best, and Jimmy Smith is one of the main reasons for my admiration.

#9. Dewey Finn – School of Rock

Jack Black as Dewey Finn

Jack Black as Dewey Finn

We all love watching the underdog win in the end. Dewey Finn is an ultimate underdog who makes stupid mistakes, but he does it with such heart and charm that you can’t help but fall in love with him. Finn truly does carry “School of Rock” by being a charismatic and comedic force, entertaining you until the very end. I love watching this movie for Finn’s journey and the excellent final moments, but Finn is so lovable and relatable that I have to say he’s my favorite part.

#8. Odin James – O

Mekhi Phifer as Odin James

Mekhi Phifer as Odin James

I love Shakespeare’s “Othello,” but “O” is probably my favorite adaptation. The film may have its flaws, but there’s no denying Mekhi Phifer delivered a hell of a performance, perfectly portraying a fantastic conflicted, complex, and angry character. This film actually does have two protagonists. The other being Hugo Goulding, played by Josh Hartnett, but Odin James is more memorable, especially with his heartbreaking final monologue. I enjoy watching Odin starting off as a promising character and seeing him spiral down to rock bottom by way of deception and betrayal. It’s a sorrowful, but satisfying tale. You’re upset, yet you’re happy for watching this tragedy occur. It’s a rewarding, conflicted emotional feeling, and we wouldn’t have gotten there without Odin James.

Click to the Next Page for Matt’s Next Protagonists!

About The Author


Seeing "Stand By Me" at the age of 6 solidified Matt's ambition to be a part of the entertainment industry. After growing up in Northern Virginia, studying film at Old Dominion University and rising from intern to Stage Manager at a Dinner Theater, Matt found himself at a speed bump in his life and wanting to express himself in more of a substantial way than calling a cue or flying a line every night. This need for creative expression pushed him to take on the challenge of getting a Master's Degree, which sent him on a year-long endeavor that seemed to throw obstacles and setbacks from every direction. But now, Matt is a screenwriter with a Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a passion for film, video games and professional wrestling, looking to keep the ambitious 6-year-old inside of him alive by entertaining the world through various forms of entertainment.

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