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maryann johanson | #BlackLivesMatter

female villains we love to hate

If you’re not all that familiar with the story of The Golden Compass, you may not know that the character Nicole Kidman plays, Mrs. Coulter, is the villain of the piece. Female bad guys — alas that “bad girls” does not have the same connotation of treachery and vileness — are few and far between, but perhaps its their rarity that makes them so memorable when they do turn up. Here are some of my favorites:
• Kidman’s own Suzanne Stone in To Die For (1995): Her small-town girl takes ambition to extreme lengths in the pursuit of fame and fortune. Alternate title: Be Careful Who You Sleep With. [buy at Amazon]

• Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada (2006): She whispers all her evil, forcing you to lean in to listen to here even when your inclination is to run as far away as possible. [read my review] [buy at Amazon]

• Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939): She’ll get us, we little pretties, and our little dogs, too. Oh, her beautiful wickedness… [read my review] [buy at Amazon]

• the Alien queen in Aliens (1986): That bit where Ripley and Newt are running, running, running away and suddenly find themselves smack in the middle of the bitch’s egg nest? I have nightmares like that. [buy at Amazon]

• Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975): The character’s name instantly became synonymous with creepy, scary, evil in female uniform. Not many villians, guy or gal, can claim such an honor. [read my review] [buy at Amazon]

• Lucille La Verne’s Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937): The ur evil stepmother, she’s so powerful that she still haunts our collective subconscious 70 years later. read my review] [buy at Amazon]

• Kathy Bates’ Annie Wilkes in Misery (1990): Her refusal to use even the mildest swear words would be pretty funny if it weren’t matched by an equal and opposite proclivity for some of the most cruel nastiness film has ever seen. (Interesting, too, that she’s another nurse, preying men when they’re most vulnerable.) [read my review] [buy at Amazon]

• Judith Anderson’s Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca (1940): Creepy housekeeper! And creepily overprotective of her master. Makes you wonder who’s really in charge in that house. [read my review] [buy at Amazon]

• Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest: She ruined the reputation of wire hangers, and what did they ever do to her? [buy at Amazon]

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