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by Noel Wood

Everyone in Hollywodd knows one simple fact: If you want to win an Oscar for best actor, the easiest route is to portray someone with an affliction. That affliction can be something as complex as Mental illness or as simple as family struggle, but it's still the easiest route to being noticed by the Academy.

In recent years, we've seen a trend of actors playing particular people with afflictions, and often making it all the way to the acceptance speech with the role. Seems that the most common afflictions in moviedom are Retardation, Redneckedness, and Homosexuality. For some reason, these types of folks just get the Academy gushing. Here is a list compiled a few years ago outlining the top performances in each category. Perhaps one day I'll update this to make it a little more hip to the times, but part of the fun of these old articles is to see how this site has evolved over the years. So here we go:


10. Ray Babbitt, RAIN MAN.
- An incredible performance by Mr. Dustin Hoffman. Probably the last great performance Hoffman will ever turn in. The only reason this character ranks so low on our list is because Ray was autistic, not retarded. There's a big difference, but for present purposes we'll just go ahead and classify him as a retard for now.

9. Stanley Spedowski, UHF.
- Man, that Kramer guy is funny when he stretches his acting talents a bit. I love the part where he gets the kid to drink from the firehose. That's pure comedy. How this film didn't make the AFI top 100 is beyond me.

8. -Nell, NELL.
- I never actually saw this movie because I heard it was pretty lame. But I hear Jodie Foster makes a pretty good retard. I also hear she runs around naked during the entire film but they still get away with a PG-13 rating because when a retard is in the buff it's considered science and not pornography. Now that's retarded.

7. Lennie, OF MICE AND MEN
- John Malkovitch is so damn cool anyway and he is so convincing as the big retard Lennie. I especially like how they cast a bunch of petire costars in this film so the average-sized Malkovitch would look even bigger. As you will see in a minute, Gary Sinise makes it a habit of hanging around retards in his movies.

- I really liked this movie even though I HATE Leonardo DiFuckingCrappio with a passion. I guess it's typecasting that he made it in to a film starring as a retard. This is probably the single most convincing portrayal of a retard in film history. Coincendentally, he also costarred with Juliette Lewis, another actress typecast as a retard in THE OTHER SISTER.

5. Rocky, MASK.
- Eric Stoltz's character is really kind of smart, but I included him on this list because he's so fucked-up looking. There's a bunch of blind people in this movie as well but I wouldn't go so far as to call them retarded. Cher's in this movie as well but her retardedness goes without saying. A whole movie with borderline retards makes for good comedy.

- Put your bit in, Ritchie. Quentin Tarantino is no Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart but he pulls off the retarded little brother bit a little too well if you ask me. I guess you could say that FROM DUSK TILL DAWN is really just OF MICE AND MEN with guns and vampires. Or not.

3. Forrest Gump, FORREST GUMP.
- I guess by all conventional means this is the quintessential retard of Hollywood. Tom Hanks made it hip to be a retard with the phenomenon that swept America in 1994. Also co-starring Gary Sinise, who wasn't a retard but did portray a gimp.

2. Sloth, THE GOONIES.
- Richard Donner may be a pussy but Sloth rules.

And now, for the drum roll...

1. Karl Childers, SLING BLADE.
- Nobody can deny that Billy Bob Thornton pulled off the most convincing retard not played by a retard in film history. And he likes mustard on it. Mmm-hmm.


- The typical redneck older brother that likes to give noogies and call everyone "butthead".

9. Max Cady, CAPE FEAR.
- The typical psycho murderer/rapist redneck.

- The typical redneck with homosexual tendencies. It's become a norm for retards to work with rednecks in the movies. Zed appears in a scene wit a retard, the Gimp.

7. Ray Malcom, ONE FALSE MOVE.
- Billy Bob Thornton pulled off such a convincing retard in SLING BLADE, so it's only natural that he's able to play a redneck so well also.

- Well, I don't know if you could really call him a redneck, but he was your basic testosterone-laced bass-ackward thinking brute. And then there's the fact that the same actor appeared as Biff's ancestor Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen in the third installment of the series, so he's at least descended from Rednecks.

5. Any character from DELIVERANCE.
- 'Nuff said.

4. Lieutenant Dan, FORREST GUMP.
- You see, this is where my theory of rednecks and retards comes in to play again.

3. Mickey and Mallory Knox, NATURAL BORN KILLERS.
- These are rednecks in a retarded movie, so I think my theory still applies here.

- Nic Cage pulls off a great character in this film. H.I. is probably the most articulate redneck in the history of film.

And now for the big winner...

1. Doyle Hargreaves, SLING BLADE.
- Pure and simple, this proves in every way my theory. Rednecks and Retards go together like Cake and Ice Cream. Like Wine and Pasta. Like Ham and Burger. I guess that's just the nature of things. The fact that the number one retard and the number one redneck are from the same movie has to tell you something. There's also a prominent gay character in the same film, and he ranks pretty high on the top ten gay characters in movies list as well.


10. Harvey Fierstein's character, INDEPENDENCE DAY, TORCH SONG TRILOGY, or MRS. DOUBTFIRE.
- I guess when you're this gay in real life, there's not much else you can do.

- Another case of life imitating art. In this film, Rupert Everett steals the show from colagen queen Julia Roberts. He comforts her through her hard times, and sings songs for her, and at the end reinforces the timeless Hollywood moral lesson: Gay people make really good friends for lonely women.

8. Howard Brackett, IN & OUT
- Hey! Frank Oz is directing gay movies now! I guess Tom Selleck's character should be here rather than Kevin Kline's, but Kevin was SO much funnier in this film.

7. Sam Baldwin, PHILADELPHIA.
- Tom Hanks proves the old adage that playing people with afflictions is the sure-fire route to take if you want an Oscar statue. Tom played a retard and a homosexual to earn those statues. Tom's yet to play a redneck, just as Billy Bob Thornton has yet to play a gay man. Whoever fills that gap first and unites the three roles is the real winner.

- In this movie, James Spader takes advantage of an intoxicated Rob Lowe (hey, who wouldn't?) and porks him. Hey, didn't James Spader play a homosexual in Less than Zero as well? And his character in CRASH had some very odd homosexual fantasies as well. Is James Spader making a career out of portraying homosexuals and/or straight men with really weird fantasies?

5. Max Anderson, BILLY MADISON.
-He's still Horny.

4. Hollywood, MANNEQUIN.
- What a queen. I never really understood this Meshach Taylor character when I was a kid. I didn't realize he was supposed to be gay, I just thought he was a really ugly woman.

3. Bunny, ED WOOD.
- Bill Murray is just too cool. He pulled off this character absolutely flawlessly in Tim Burton's black-and-white masterpiece. He even talked about cutting off his penis. Whatta guy!

2. Vaughn, SLING BLADE.
- I really wanted SLING BLADE to take the triple crown on Rednecks, Retards, and Homosexuals in movies. But something kept it from happening. Notwithstanding, John Ritter pulled off this character very well, without too much "swish factor" and without making it unbelieveable. But two number ones and a number two ain't bad. That's regularity.

And now, for our number one:

1. Hooper X, CHASING AMY.
- Man this shit is funny. The whole thing at the beginning where he gives his Black Power comic speech and then starts shooting people is great. Then he gets all gay on us and hangs out with the pseudo-lesbian played by Joey Adams. Speaking of which, I seemed to have left off lesbians off of my list altogether. I don't know why, but it just happened. I also left off C-3PO and R2-D2 but I can't really explain that either.

You may also notice I left out a lot of characters from films that contained a number of homosexuals. There's nobody from classics like MAURICE, JEFFREY, THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, DEATH TRAP, LIE DOWN WITH DOGS, THE INCREDIBLY TRUE STORY OF TWO GIRLS IN LOVE, and SOME LIKE IT HOT (wait...nevermind). I was mainly listing characters who are forced to interact with straight ones. Don't like it? Tough. It's our web page.


All Material Copyright 1998-2006 Movie Criticism for the Retarded.

For questions, comments, or the occasional stalking letter, send mail to Noel Wood. Please give proper credit when using any materials found within this site.

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