Salma Hayek is one woman you won’t want to mess with in her latest role. In The Hummingbird Project, the tense tech thriller from Oscar-nominated director Kim Nguyen, Hayek plays a no-nonsense executive trying to scupper the potential lucrative plan by a pair of men (played by the unforgettable Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård), who are attempting to connect money markets using an audacious fibre optic tunnel.
With peroxided hair and tinted Ray-bans, a fiery and ferocious Hayek tears up the screen as Torres, saying “I can make your life hell if I decide to” – and you don’t doubt it for a second, making this Hayek’s scariest screen role since she played a deadly dancer in From Dusk Till Dawn. Here are ten more unforgettable female film bosses -some award winning, some hilarious, some truly frightening, and all of them brilliant.
Faye Dunaway in Network (1974)
Dunaway’s astonishing portrayal of ambitious newsroom executive Diana Christensen, in Sidney Lumet’s Network, won her a Best Actress Oscar in 1976. In a male-dominated media world, Christensen is absolutely relentless in her quest for unforgettable ratings, and has no qualms about sacrificing her personal life at the altar of her career: “I’m goddamn good at my work and so I confine myself to that”.
Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl (1988)
Sigourney Weaver gives a masterclass in ruthlessness as Wall Street executive Katharine Parker, in the hit film Working Girl, who steals her secretary’s idea and passes it off as her own. Power-dressing Parker is sharp-tongued, always on the lookout for an opportunity, and extremely vengeful. When she finds out her mere secretary (played by Melanie Griffith) has been impersonating her, it’s time to hide under your desks.
Demi Moore in Disclosure (1994)
Hell hath no fury like female bosses scorned in this tech thriller from 1994. Demi Moore plays a powerful executive who accuses a former lover(Michael Douglas) – and now employee – of sexual harassment, in a bid to ruin him. Moore’s character didn’t get to where she is by being a shy retiring wallflower – she is cunning and manipulative – so Douglas has his work cut out for him trying to disprove the claims.
Frances McDormand in Fargo (1996)
Police chief Marge Gunderson (played by Frances McDormand, who won an Oscar for her role) is trying to solve a triple homicide in snowy Minnesota. Nothing, repeat nothing, will stop her from getting to the bottom of the case. She might be folksy and friendly, and heavily pregnant, but don’t let that fool you. Marge is all business, and don’t get snippy with her, she’s just doing her job for Pete’s sake.
Julia Roberts in Erin Brokovich (2000)
A single mum turns crusader in this real life story of the title character, who became a legal assistant in a bid to campaign against a Californian power company accused of pollution. Unforgettable Julia Roberts deservedly won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, for her powerful performance as a woman dismissed as ‘broke, three kids, no job’, who stuck to her guns and proved a formidable force against a corporate giant.
Jane Lynch in The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
The brilliant Jane Lynch is hilarious as the lecherous retail manager in the raucous comedy, who makes lewd suggestions to the title character Andy (played by Steve Carell). Her rendition of a Guatemalan love song, that a former lover serenaded her with, has to be seen to be believed.
Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
It’s a character that strikes fear into the hearts of office juniors the world over – Miranda Priestly, the editor of a fashion magazine who puts her naive new assistant through hell. Meryl Streep is quite brilliant as Priestly – icy, witheringly cruel and painfully demanding – when her flight is cancelled because of a hurricane she dismisses it as ‘some absurd weather problem’.
Judi Dench in the Bond films
Dame Judi first appeared as M, head of the Secret Intelligence Service, in GoldenEye in 1995, and went on to play the character in a further six installments. She’s a no-nonsense unforgettable boss, apparently based on real-life MI5 head Stella Rimington, and, in the early films, unlike the women who usually fall at Bond’s feet, she’s not particularly fond of 007. One of the best bosses.
Sandra Bullock in The Proposal (2009)
Margaret Tate, a workaholic New York publisher, is a woman who is used to getting what she wants. So, when she wants to get married – so that her Canadian visa doesn’t expire – her long-suffering assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) has no choice but to agree to the scheme.
Jennifer Aniston in Horrible Bosses (2011)
Dr Julia Harris, Aniston’s unforgettable character in the 2011 comedy, is a dentist who makes unwelcome advances to her soon-to-be-married assistant (Charlie Day), driving him to the point of plotting to kill her. He doesn’t succeed, obviously, because she returns for the sequel. You can’t keep a good female boss down!
THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT is released on digital 4 October 2019
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