That's very specific. I also like that you capitalized the letters, so I wouldn't be able to refuse titling my list exactly that way.
Here we go:
Two Less Than a Dozen of the Best Insane Movie Characters at the Forefront of Their Films
Okay. You get the joke.
The 'unreliable narrator' is a very popular thing these days. To me, it's almost a deus ex machina, a thing that allows you to fuck with the story, the rules of story, and character arcs, all behind the thin veneer of: "But it's okay. Because you can't trust what you've been told!" Still, I get the freedom it allows.
That may or may not have had anything to do with this list, I now realize, as narrators in film are rare/dumb. I guess I should've used the previous paragraph for a book-themed post about crazy characters. I guess I could go back and erase it. But I've come too far.
Top Ten Craziest Protagonists
...aaaaaand I've changed my mind.
Finally. Here we go:
Top Fifteen Craziest Protagonists
15) Willy Wonka from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). Typically, Charlie is the protagonist in this story. I'm using a technicality here - his name in the title - to justify including Gene Wilder's madcap and somehow subtle performance in this list. He's not really the protagonist, but without him, the story doesn't unfold at all. He's the central figure of a movie full of crazy.
14) Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard (1950). Classic crazy. When she tilts her head back and zeroes in, I lose boners for a month.
13) Tony Montana from Scarface (1983). While researching this list, I came upon a lot of wonderful crazy characters who were simply too evil, or the obvious antagonist of their films (insert every villain ever, in fact). This is a true bad guy as the protagonist role. He's so madcap, he thinks a gun is his little friend. What? Crazy.
12) Batman (or many other superheroes) from Any Batman Movie. Dude dresses up as a bat because his parents were killed. Right?
11) Hedra Carlson from Single White Female (1992). Jennifer Jason Leigh perfectly cast as a weirdo. The scene where she changes her appearance to match Bridget Fonda's is particularly off-putting. (Again, this is not a true protagonist, but this movie really is a two-woman show. If you claim she's actually the villain, I'd be hard-pressed to deny you. I'm not perfect! Leave me alone or I'll cut my hair like yours!)
10) The Narrator (or Tyler Durden) from Fight Club (1999). I'm talking about Ed Norton, here. He's nuts. Punches himself until he's not so nuts, then blows up some shit and shoots himself in the face.
9) Pvt. Leonard Lawrence from Full Metal Jacket (1987). There almost isn't a protagonist in this Kubrick masterwork on the irony and tragedy of war. Humanity is the protagonist, or maybe Matthew Modine, as per usual. To me, at least for the first part of the movie, 'Gomer Pyle' is the central figure, as we follow the journey he takes as he breaks under the pressure of wartime preparation. Has anyone looked crazier on film? Thanks, D'Onofrio. You good.
8) Dr. Henry Frankenstein from Frankenstein (1931). Obsessive like his literary counterpart, Henry on film is a little more flamboyant with his crazy. His sheer glee once the monster comes alive is the exclamation point.
7) R.P. McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Jack's got a couple on here, no surprise. He's brought a touch of crazy to every role, hasn't he?
6) Patrick Bateman from American Psycho (2000). Has a crazy protagonist ever done more crazy shit on screen? The beauty is, of course, did he do any of it? That's double crazy!!
5) Baby Jane Hudson from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) Again, she's the villain, right? But if you watch the whole movie...I don't usually mind spoilers in lists like this - they come with the territory - but in this case, I'll hold off. Point is, it takes two to tango. But Baby Jane, dancing and singing her old, childhood songs about her daddy in full-makeup over an age-pitted face? Big time crazy!
4) Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver (1976). I guess you could argue that things turn out okay for him. Maybe he's not so crazy. But in that iconic scene, well, he is talking to himself.
3) Jack Torrance from The Shining (1980). More Kubrick, more Jack, and another example of the film's villain as the main character and arguable protagonist. I love that there was so much crazy coming from everywhere in this film, that Talia Shire was actually traumatized by it all.
2) Nina Sayers from Black Swan (2010). Not unlike Carrie, much of Nina's crazy comes from her relationship with her mother, though in a more subtle, crawling-across-glass kind of way. Black Swan is an entire film dedicated to watching the protagonist split down the middle.
1) Alex de Large from A Clockwork Orange (1971). My favorite film, and my favorite villainous protagonist. Alex is addicted to ultraviolence, and nothing is going to come between them. He finds it far too horrorshow.
Short Answer: Put my honorable mentions in the list, this time. Felt like they all deserved a blurb.