21 Worst Villainesses of 2017

January 22, 2018

'Tragedy Girls'
Society finally reached a tipping point last year. Women in Hollywood let their voice be heard at last, above the cacophony of voices that had sought to silence them for decades.

If only they had it so easy as in fiction. For most of the fictional women in this list, male predators are the least of their worries. When you sit so high in the echelons of power, your oppressors have to lie prostrate before they can even begin to stand to touch you. You oppress them instead.

Here are the the people who have made those questionable calls in a parallel universe, where women, for once, are the scum of the earth:

21. Caroline Caldwell


"The Girl with All the Gifts" was the zombie film you thought you never needed. A new take on the undead lore sees Glenn Close as a messianic scientist serving barrels of moral ambiguity in the age of the fungal apocalypse.

20. Poppy Adams


Julianne Moore never disappoints as a person to despise onscreen. It has been two years since her portrayal of the duplicitous Alma Coin, another Cautionary Women honoree. She returns to this list in fine form as the narco-terrorist Poppy on "Kingsman: The Golden Circle."

19. & 18. McKayla Hooper and Sadie Cunningham


In the year of eating Tide pods, no one would be surprised if the likes of the fictional McKayla and Sadie from "Tragedy Girls" would do what they did to get their 4 minutes and 20 seconds of fame (the average length of the top YouTube videos). Never try this at home.

17. Rachel Jane


Count on Sigourney Weaver to deliver another marvelous staging of the unhinged mind. As vindictive cosmetic surgeon Rachel in "The Assignment," she truly brings the knife to a gunfight.

16. Lenny Busker


Shadow King is a vicious Marvel character in any cosmic plane. "Parks and Rec" alum Aubrey Plaza gives the gossamer mutant a convincing gender flip in this star-making role opposite Dan Stevens' cerebral "Legion."

15. Janice


Talitha Bateman flies the flag high for bad seeds this year with her precocious, phantasmagoric performance in "Annabelle: Creation."

14. Semira


Kate Beckinsale takes no prisoners again in "Underworld: Blood Wars," but it's Lara Pulver's ("Spooks") diabolically ambitious vampire Semira that has us grinding our fangs in contempt.

13. Bee


A Satanist for a babysitter? This Netflix blockbuster ought to keep hormonal preteens' hands off their wardens.

12. Victoria Leeds


Bollywood's best, Priyanka Chopra, completes her transition into stateside stardom, playing a murderous drug lord in a desultory movie version of "Baywatch." While it's not the most propitious of career launchpads, a global superstar has to start somewhere.

11. Rita Repulsa


This is not the bumbling space witch that you loved to hate in the old "Power Rangers." With Elizabeth Banks in the role, Rita attempts to be taken just a bit more seriously, rolling all the monsters of the week from the beloved '90s TV series into one celestial threat: herself.

10. Luv


For her first big-budget starrer Blade Runner 2049, Sylvia Hoeks summoned inspiration not from fellow thespians but pop stars. Apparently the same obtrusive microscope under which Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez live out their lives is the same one that hounds this devious replicant.

9. Ahmanet


Original "Kingsman" villainess Sofia Boutella is also back on the list, this time as the titular character in the Tom Cruise vehicle "The Mummy," a misguided reboot of the Universal classic.

8. Dr. Poison


Gal Gadot topped the typically male-driven summer box office to everyone's wonderment last year. "Wonder Woman" held a mirror to society's very current foes: Nazis and internalized misogyny, the latter captured so vividly by the enigmatic Dr. Poison, played by Elena Anaya.

7. Cipher


Last year's MVP (Most Villainous Person), Charlize Theron, got to play a more realistic black hat in "The Fate of the Furious." As super-hacker Cipher, Theron was able to accomplish the unthinkable: turn Vin Diesel's Toretto against family.

6. Nicolette Cayman


Glenn Close has never been one to play against type since "Fatal Attraction" and "101 Dalmatians." In the septuplet caper "What Happened to Monday," she is up to her acting best as a truly god-awful politician with more crimes against humanity than there are days in a week.

5. & 4. Nancy and Lucy Mirando


Speaking of twins, Tilda Swinton has by now mastered the art of doubling down on the villainy. In the Netflix hit "Okja," Ms. Swinton plays unabashedly carnivorous sisters Lucy and Nancy, echoing her stellar showing in 2016's "Hail, Caesar!" The characters serve as proof that in the issue of animal rights, cruelty is simply a coin with two sides to it.

3. Aunt Lydia


"The Handmaid’s Tale," based on the Margaret Atwood book of the same name, has lately been television's finest hour, no doubt shored up by the eerie parallels it shares with today's political climate. In life as on TV, women make the case as their own greatest enemy. Aunt Lydia, played by Ann Dowd, is a prime exemplar of the kind of self-loather who thinks she is heaven-sent to raise mere breeders out of her own sex.

2. Hela


Kneel. There's just no other way around "Thor: Ragnarok's" Goddess of Death, by all accounts the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first major female baddie. Played to scene-chewing perfection by Cate Blanchett, Hela is more than just a deity of the first order. She's a one-woman army.

1. Rose Armitage


"Get Out" yielded some of the timeliest, most socially informed villains in cinema, the Armitage family. The most heavily decorated film on this list is predicated on the conceit that people are capable of something worse than abetting the racially charged climate in which Americans live today. As cunning as she is macabre, Rose (Allison Williams) is a lightning rod for those very current, very real ills.

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