Oskar Schindler, throughout the movie and in Real Life.
In the movie, they portrayed him only start caring about the workers in the middle of the movie. However in real life, he actually planned to save the Jews right from the start.
The Goleszow transport wasn't in the movie but deserves to be mentioned. In January 1945 a frozen train with about 100 Jews who had been traveling for weeks arrived in front of Brünnlitz. Many were already dead and it was clear that those who were alive would never be able to work at the factory, but Schindler employed them as "essential workers" and many survived.
It's a quietly powerful moment when Schindler and Stern share their first drink together as friends.
Schindler meets his workers at the Brinnlitz train station, in the snow, with a promise of hot soup and bread once they reach the factory.
The tear-jerking end scene where the real people Oskar saved place stones on his grave (a great sign of respect for the dead) accompanied by the actors who portrayed them, concluded with Liam Neeson laying roses in the center.
"There are fewer than four thousand Jews left alive in Poland today. There are more than six thousand descendants of the Schindler Jews."
The movie was made in 1993. Today the number is closer to eight thousand.
Schindler hosing the train cars during an especially hot day to give the Jews inside at least a little relief. Goeth at first mocks him and laughs with his fellow Nazis but soon just sits in bewilderment as if he honestly can't understand the act of selfless compassion.
To quote Stern: "The list is an absolute good. The list... is life. All around its margins lies the gulf."
If any moment of the last half-hour of this movie were in another movie, it'd be a clear CMOH, from when Schindler informs the rabbi that the Sabbath will be recognized to when said rabbi gives a letter to Schindler as he's about to flee the camp that explains Oskar's heroism and tells him, "Every worker has signed it."
Just after Schindler yells at Regina Perlman to get out of his office and goes downstairs to rage at Stern that his factory isn't a safe-haven and it's all about making money... and then gives Stern the names of Regina's elderly parents so they can be saved.
A bit later, as the Perlmans arrive at the factory...Regina sees them enter; the expression on her face says volumes.
Early in the film, Itzhak Stern is placed on a transport to almost certain death and Schindler shows up at the Krakow train station to fetch him, coolly explaining the potential danger to "production". Despite his seemingly tranquil bluster, he clearly starts to panic when he spots Itzhak in a moving train, banging frantically on the doors of the cart. The facade is cracking...
A very small one in the scope of the film, but Oskar promising his wife that he will never cheat on her again, just her smile is so beautiful.
Near the end of the film, there is a poignant scene where Schindler expresses remorse and guilt over not saving more; on how he could have traded more just to save one more... just one more...
After Schindler breaks down, dozens of his workers give him a big hug.
One worker donates his gold teeth to be melted down into a ring as a gift to Schindler for saving their lives. The other workers thank him profusely at every step, from taking a swig of liquor to having the teeth removed to holding an ice pack on his jaw. And the inscription on the ring: "Whoever saves one life saves the world entire."
There is a twisted example from Goeth. Having grown fond of his Jewish maid, Goeth is unwilling to send her to Auschwitz and secretly confides in Schindler that he would like to take her back to his home. When Schindler points out that such a plan would be impossible, Goeth admits he knows, which is why he'll just take her out into the woods and shoot her instead to spare her from the horrors of Auschwitz.
At the end of the movie, Oskar speaks with the guards about their orders to exterminate all the Jews in the factory, and gives them choice - follow orders and kill them, or leave with a clear conscience ("And return to your families as men, instead of murderers"). Every single guard turns around and leaves, and Nuremberg Defense be damned.
Tear jerking as the armless man death was, he died believing he was useful for someone.
The scene where Oskar visits Helen in the basement of Göth's villa, and gently attempts to win her trust. He listens as she pours out her troubles to him, and urges her not to lose hope for her own survival. And with "Not that kind of a kiss", he treats Helen, who is at constant risk of physical and sexual violence from the twisted Göth, with the innocent tenderness she so sorely lacks. Chivalrous Pervert, indeed.
Steven Spielberg's refusal to accept a salary for this movie, stating that it would be "blood money", definitely qualifies.
Producer Branko Lustig's acceptance speech for this movie's Best Picture Oscar Award began with these words:
When he ended his speech, he got a standing ovation, which almost never happens during a Best Picture speech.
Gene Siskel's first words on the film in his and Ebert's review: "My first thought after seeing this film was that when I next saw its director, Steven Spielberg, I wanted to say something to him first as a human being and as a Jew: bless you."
This article on Cracked sums up why Schindler's actions were so amazing.
Don't take any of this to mean we're diminishing what he did during the war — the sad epilogue in Schindler's life actually makes his heroism during the Holocaust all the more remarkable. This was not a particularly competent or driven or talented man — he had no other successes to his name. But goddamn did the guy step up when the human race needed him to.