"Groot" a walking fighting talking (well, sort of) tree is easily the best character within the #1 movie in the world right now. I didn't like Guardians of the Galaxy but I loved Groot. So here's a top ten devoted to his fellow upright leafy green characters. Trees have often played key roles in dramas, fairytales, and horror alike whether as fantastical homes, formidable characters or mysterious passageways to adventure.
TOP TEN: BEST TREES IN MOVIES
Honorable Mention: That tree Mowgli was hypnotized in in The Jungle Book, spooky 'Tree of the Dead' in Sleepy Hollow, the Christmas tree Gremlins wield like a weapon, the Swiss Family Robinson's main address, any tree that nimbly supports the weight of Crouching Tigers and Hidden Dragons on its delicate green branches, any tree that gives us opportunities to ogle various Tarzans or George of the Jungles from, uh, below (shush. You're no innocent of ogling!), or virtually any colorful tree in Disney's Alice In Wonderland but particularly the one she reads by and dozes on that dumps her into that trippy world of invisible cats, size-altering portions, and rodents having tea parties.
10 Holiday Trees in Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Located in The Hinterlands these seven trees lead you into your various Holiday towns. We only get to see Halloween Town and "what's this?" Christmas town. If only Jack Skellington could have tried them all out. Imagine him delivering Easter eggs or cupid's arrow. Imagine the production design and merchandising opportunities! For all I know these other worlds have already been exploited in bad straight to DVD follow ups but if so I am blissfully ignorant.
Nine more barking great characters / symbols after the jump...
09 Neighborhood Tree in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
If you ever have the urge to leave pieces of chewing gum, pennies, a ball of twine and a busted pocket watch for neighborhood children in the knot in your tree please do not also make soap carving figurines of those same neighborhoood children because that's likely to be misinterpreted in 2014. Not that that other items wouldn't be since they were kind of hard to figure even in 1930s Maycomb Alabama.
09 Hangman's Tree in Peter Pan (1953)
As a hiding spot for the Lost Boys you have to admit that this isn't very practical. Hangman's tree screams out "flying boys hiding inside!" what with all the glowing entry points and its spotlit place in a clearing in the woods. But you have to admit that it LOOKS cool which is most of the point in fantastical places like Neverland.
07 Mr Fox's Home in Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
Admit it. You wished you were a tiny stop motion figurine just so you could also live inside it and wear those awesome minitature costumes and gaze at its stunning views of Boggis Bunce and Bean farmlands.
06 Apple Trees in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Dorothy is pretty much terrible at following directions, always stepping off that Yellow Brick Road for one reason or another. She's tired. She's hungry. wah wah wah. Those crabby croaky-voiced trees aren't having it when she spots a snack but the jokes on them when the Scarecrow tricks them into throwing their delicious red treats at our heroes.
05 Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas (1995)
Sure, she dispenses wisdom as Old Lady Supporting Characters are wont to do. But she's more than just a stock character. She's a living woodland rosetta stone - imagine learning a foreign language just by standing under a breezy weeping willow listening to her humming "que que na-to-ra you will understand". Every shot of her is a fairytale beauty with deep blues, warm greens, mystical spotlights and peaceful serenity. [Much more on Pocahontas here.]
04 Tree in Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Google Search "pan's labyrinth vagina" and be amazed at the many articles on the imagery of that gloriously symbolic tree that Ofelia passes through.
03 Tree of Souls in Avatar (2009)
Weeping Willows are the giants of all trees in fantasy and why wouldn't they be with their mysterious old beauty, secretive protective curtains of green, dramatic flourishes with each and every breeze. They're otherworldly even without magical properties. But what if they also had glowing tendrils you could plug into while plugging into your hot blue girlfriend during your cosmic environmentally friendly whoopie? I love Avatar and I am not ashamed. I shouldn't be so flippant. The attack on the Tree of Souls is just gut-wrenching, like a blasphemic desecration.
02 Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
My absolute favorite thing about Groot's "I am Groot" refrain is Rocket's unfussy conversational responses, never skipping a translated beat. So funny.
01 Treebeard (John Rhys-Davies) & The Ents in The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (2002)
The decision I made to skip The Hobbit movies has served me well since I am still able to hold the original trilogy so sacred. It remains a perfect landmark of the early Aughts both in terms of cinema and life since everyone loved them and the experience was so communal each holiday season. It's impossible to choose a favorite character even if you divvy up into leading, supporting and peripheral characters but within the peripheries my answer for The Two Towers might be Treebeard who make such a glorious impression, is Gandalf friendly, and leads that Magnificent Ent attack on Sauron's Isengard. It's like nature taking its revenge after being defiled.
This top ten has been brought to you by my childhood home's tree (oh how I wish I had a picture) that had exactly four big branches, one for each of us. As the baby of the family I got the least impressive and lowest branch which curved over our lawn gently, the ideal branch to lay on without fear of falling and hang swings from and claim as one's own. I completely loved it and cried when part of it had to be cut off because it was extending over the neighbor's yard and they complained. Several years ago while visiting Michigan I drove by the old place out of nostalgia. The tree was gone and I felt so bad for any children that might grow up in that house in the future. That tree was magic. Like Groot and Treebeard.