It’s Memorial Day, and you know what that means ― poolside barbecues!
Wait, wait… but aren’t we supposed to remember something else on Memorial Day? You know… besides how much we love turkey burgers and sunshine?
Oh right. In addition to fun in the sun (weather dependent), Memorial Day is also an important time to remember the men and women who served in the armed forces. So in the spirit of that, Hollywire is taking a moment to honor our favorite fallen American hotties in film ― the ones who just didn’t quite make it to the end.
They’re fictional. They’re hot. And they’re no longer with us. Honor their cinematic sacrifices with us after the jump!
(Prepare for some spoilers below… obviously.)
1. Jack Dawson in Titanic
Jack thought he was the luckiest guy in the world when he won a ticket on the “ship of dreams” at poker. Unfortunately, that ship wasn’t as unsinkable as the marketing would have you think. Being a lower-class passenger, he was pretty much doomed to never got off the Titanic alive, but he spent his remaining hours making sure his new love Rose survived in one of the greatest screen romances ever. We’ll never let go, Jack… unless your frozen hand is clamped down on our wrist and preventing us from getting to the lifeboat. Then... sorry.
2. Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan
Captain Miller leads his men through one of the bloodiest days in history, then is tasked with rescuing Private James Ryan because he’s the last surviving brother in an entire family of vets. Miller leads his men expertly and succeeds in getting Matt Damon out alive, but not before taking the fall himself. His final words to Private Ryan are “Earn this,” which is good advice considering a lot of other guys died on the mission as well. Matt Damon fans are grateful.
3. Billy Costigan in The Departed
Leo again! The title sort of gives away the fact that not everyone will make it out of this one alive, but Leonardo DiCaprio’s good guy character is killed suddenly and sooner than we think in a truly shocking movie moment. He doesn’t even get rid of the bad guy. (That duty falls on Mark Wahlberg in the final scene.) Still, it’s Billy’s sacrifice infiltrating the Irish crime ring headed by Jack Nicholson that allows for the whole thing to be taken down, even if a few good cops go down in the process.
4. Driver in Drive
Like many of the “heroes” on this list, the Driver isn’t exactly an innocent. He’s a getaway driver for criminals. But he starts rethinking his career when he meets Irene (played by Carey Mulligan), and suddenly his driving is more about riding around with her and her son in his car, listening to pop songs. Unfortunately, some unfinished business finds him and he meets his end via a stab to the stomach. The film ends with Ryan Gosling driving off into the sunset, but given how much of a loner he is, we don’t get much of a sense that he’s heading to the nearest hospital. R.I.P., Gos.
5. Inman in Cold Mountain
What a downer! Inman deserts the Confederate Army during the Civil War, traveling on foot back to his true love Ada (Nicole Kidman). After a lot of near-death experiences along the way, the two are finally reunited years later, sharing one night of passion before the Confederate home guard shoots him dead. After all that! At least Nicole gets Jude Law as her baby daddy, so it’s not a total loss.
6. Llewelyn Moss in No Country For Old Men
Like The Departed, this Best Picture winner shocks the audience by having the film’s supposed “hero” killed well before the climax, and not even at the hands of the villain. As usual when one decides to steal a bunch of drug money that doesn’t belong to them, Llewelyn should have just left well enough alone and would be all the better for it. (Albeit in a much less interesting movie.)
7. Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby
Oscars and dead protagonists seem to go hand-in-hand. What begins as a girl power tale of a scrappy young lady fighting her way into the world of boxing turns into a weepy drama once she's incapacitated by an injury sustained during a fight. It's pretty sad when your grizzled old trainer outlives you... but at least she showed her bitch of a mom or thing or two before she went!
8. Joe in Looper
Sure, we prefer our Joseph Gordon-Levitt when he looks a bit less like Bruce Willis, but we were still partial to this guy in Looper... particularly when he was given the thankless task of killing his future self (which ends up getting his past sef killed, too). And he sacrifices himself so that Emily Blunt and her young son can live, so he totally scores a point for selflessness.
9. The Terminator in Terminator 2: Judgment Day
The first Terminator similarly ended with the death of the protagonist — arguably an even sadder one, since he was a human. But something about the weird paternal relationship young John Connor has with this futuristic cyborg sent back to protect him made this an even greater sci-fi classic. It's just too bad none of the further sequels were able to capture this level of humanity in the story.
10. Donnie Darko in Donnie Darko
We're not sure Donnie Darko counts as a hero, but we are sure that Jake Gyllenhaal is a hottie, so therefore we're going for it. After a jet engine crashes through his bedroom while he's out, Jake begins seeing a mysterious and malevolent rabbit that orders him to commit arson and flood his school. There seems to be a method to the madness, though — and when bad things start happening to people he cares about, Donnie instead travels back in time and dies himself, thus undoing the terrible things that will happen to others. (We think.)
11. Harry Stamper in Armageddon
If there's an asteroid hurtling toward Earth, Bruce Willis is probably the guy you want for the job of depositing a nuclear weapon into it. At first, Harry disapproves of fellow asteroid-naut A.J. (Ben Affleck)'s relationship with his daughter, but in the end changes his mind and sacrifices himself so that A.J. can return to her and Earth. Aww! That Bruce, always doing good for mankind.
Who's your favorite fallen movie hero?