Top 10 Best Character Arcs in Film

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The best characters are the ones that grow and change and sometimes learn a lesson. These characters can help us learn something about ourselves, about society, or the world at large. Here are our top 10 character arcs in film history.

What did you think of the list? Do you disagree with any of our picks? Feel like we left out or mis-represented any of the films? What character do you think has the best arc? What do you think makes a character arc great?

What other topics would you like to see us cover in future editions of CineFix Movie Lists?

Let us know in the comments!

THE LIST

Hero’s Journey – Kikuchiyo from Seven Samurai
It is a pitting of pridefulness versus self-sacrifice, of noble dreams versus their difficult realities, all set against the backdrop of a peasant’s orphan past.

Moral Growth – Jules from Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction does a wonderful job of walking us quietly through his revelation-by-parts on the way to becoming a righteous man.

Reluctant Hero – Rick Blaine from Casablanca
A broken heart made him shun heroism, but it takes the same woman who broke his heart to soften it, and we get to watch gleefully as he reveals himself to be the hero he tried so hard not to.

Lets Go/Becomes Free – Bobby Dupea from Five Easy Pieces
We’re not quite sure where he’s going. Or how specifically he’s changed. But he’s reached his breaking point, and decided to leave it all behind. Whatever life he had before, he’s given it up now, and is no longer the same person for it.

Grow Together – The Entire Cast from Boyhood
For all the emotional growth an actor can do on screen in a typical 3 month span, there’s nothing like actual time to really kick it up a notch.

Failure to Change – Alex from A Clockwork Orange
While the entire plot is focused around getting this violent criminal to change his ways, in the end, he ends up exactly where he started

Confronting Death – Dr. Isak Borg from Wild Strawberries
It is the psychological journey of a man and his self reckoning in his final act. Beginning in a place of guilt and resolving itself in some small amount of solace and acceptance.

Rise to Power – Michael Corleone from The Godfather
From saintly war-hero to family leader of quiet cruelty, it is the slow, seductive corruption of a moral man.

Descent into Madness – Mabel from A Woman Under the Influence
In the beginning, Mabel is perhaps just a little strange but what follows is one of the most brilliantly acted unravellings in the history of cinema.

Rise and Fall – Citizen Kane from Citizen Kane
A monument to an American Icarus, flying too high and lending proof to Fitzgerald’s claim that “there are no second acts in American lives.”

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