Austen Awards: Villainesses

Welcome back to the Austen Awards! Last time we covered the men who ruin the lives of the heroines of Austen, this time we'll be discussing the women. Here we celebrate those scheming villainesses in all their glory. Be sure to vote for your favorite incarnation of the character and take the personality quiz at the end, to find out which one you're the most like!

8. Isabella Thorpe

The Character: A flirtatious gold digger, and a total phony in Northanger Abbey. She likes to have her cake and eat it too. She'll find a sensible match, but still attempt to have her fun on the side.

Best Portrayal:

Carey Mulligan did a great job of bringing this character to life and infusing her with some elegance. She's acts like she knows everything in the world, and yet by the end comes off as completely pathetic.
Worst Portrayal & Worth Mentioning:
N/A. Not enough versions that I've seen or have been made!

Is Carey Mulligan the perfect Isabella Thorpe?

Do Quizzes

7. Mrs. Norris

The Character: An awful, cruel woman who plays favorites...and lets you know it in Mansfield Park. If she doesn't think you're worthy of her time and affection, she won't be giving it to you.

Best & Worst Portrayal:
Both versions are pretty much a tie, and don't really make the character as awful as I'd like honestly!

Worth Mentioning: the cat in Harry Potter!!! Yes, she is in fact named after this villainess.

Which Mr. Norris is your favorite?

Sheila Gish (Mansfield Park 1999)
Maggie O'Neill (Mansfield Park 2007)
Neither! The cat is the best one!
Please Specify:

6. Mrs. Elton

The Character: Mrs. Elton is usually more annoying than evil, but she certainly can and will snub you if she hates you in Emma. Mostly, it's just really tedious to listen to her brag incessantly about how great she, and her life is.

Best Portrayal:

I LOVE Juliet Stevenson's take in the 1996 Emma. Her Mrs. Elton is simultaneously hilarious and hateable. She is one of the highlights of the film honestly. At least, her friends think so...

Worst Portrayal:
Christina Cole seriously found a way into every single period piece made in the last ten years, and always seems to play the same person no matter the role. Her Mrs. Elton is far too similar to her Caroline Bingley, and I liked it better the first time. 

Worth Mentioning: Amber in Clueless is pretty funny, and gets some of the best lines in the movie. Emma Approved took from Christina Cole's book and recycled Mrs. Elton from Caroline Bingley...but was definitely more intentional about it. It's a fun way to make the novels exist in the same world.

Which Mrs. Elton is your favorite?

Juliet Stevenson (Emma 1996)
Christina Cole (Emma 2009)
Elisa Donovan (Amber - Clueless)
Jessica Jade Andres (Emma Approved)
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

5. Mary Crawford

The Character: The alluring, scheming villainess whose husband hunting ways stir trouble at Mansfield Park and are most inconvenient to heroine Fanny Price.

Best Portrayal:

Honestly, I'm gonna have to go sixes on this one. I really liked both Hayley Atwell and Embeth Davidtz's takes on the role.

Worst Portrayal & Worth Mentioning: N/A.

Which Mary Crawford is your favorite?

Embeth Davidtz (Mansfield Park 1999)
Hayley Atwell (Mansfield Park 2007)
I can't pick! I choose tie!
Please Specify:
Quiz Maker

4. Mrs. Fanny Dashwood
The Character: The sister-in-law of the Dashwood's who has no problem claiming what she believes is rightly her's at the expense of anybody in Sense & Sensibility. She cares deeply about appearances and what society thinks about anyone even remotely associated with her. She is cruel and two-faced.

Best Portrayal:
The '95 version wins for me hands down. She is cold and cruel. She will do whatever she can to keep up her appearances, and is totally willing to sacrifice her brother's happiness for it (hey sounds like another villainess yet to appear on our list.)

Worst Portrayal:

Gonna have to give it to JJ Neward's Fran Farris in Scents & Sensibility. In order to accommodate their silly title, they center the film around a potential miracle making lotion that Marianne coined, which Fran realizes she can profit off of if she sells the ingredients. Ehhh. 

Worth Mentioning: From Prada to Nada was by no means a great adaptation, but their version of this character was probably the best modern alternative of any characters they had to offer. I...don't remember the 2008 one.

Which Fanny Dashwood is your favorite?

Harriet Walter (Sense and Sensibility 1995)
Claire Skinner (Sense & Sensibility 2008)
April Bowlby (From Prada to Nada)
JJ Neward (Scents and Sensibility)
Please Specify:
Do Quizzes

3. Lady Catherine de Bourgh

The Character: The powerful, proud woman who always gets her way in Pride & Prejudice. It's her way or the highway, and if you get in her way...she'll make you pay. She's the classic Austen villainess!

Best Portrayal:

Judy Dench is always solid, but really she plays the same crotchety old bag in everything, so I'm awarding this to the awesome version of the character we meet in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies played by Lena Headey.

Worst Portrayal:

I'm gonna have to give it to the 1940's version who is no villainess, but rather a matchmaker!

Worth mentioning: Lost in Austen and the '95 version give us decent takes on LCD. Lizzie Bennet resorts to an impression in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Which Lady Catherine is your favorite?

Judi Dench (Pride & Prejudice 2005)
Lena Headey (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies)
Lindsay Duncan (Lost in Austen)
Barbara Leigh-Hunt (Pride and Prejudice 1995)
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

2. Caroline Bingley

The character: the cold and calculating sister of Mr. Bingley in Pride & Prejudice. Social status is everything, even if it is at the expense of her brother's happiness. She looks down on everyone beneath her and makes no secret of her superiority. 

Best portrayal:

I must admit, I quite like Kelly Reilly's portrayal in Pride & Prejudice 2005. She oozes class, and somehow every word she says to demean Elizabeth feels all the worse coming from her. I am also fond of the version given to us by Jessica Jade Andres in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. For the typeof character they were going for (remain mysterious at first, then slowly have her character come into focus,) she did a great job. 
Worst portrayal:
Hmm. I don't remember the portrayal in the '95 version well enough to talk smack about it...so um. Hmm. I'll go with... was there a Caroline Bingley in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies? We'll pick that one since she was too lame to make an impression.

Worth Mentioning: Again, we have the '95 version that's always worth discussing. Also, the Caroline we meet in 2003's Latter-Day Comedy version is appropriately snooty. Also, I must say I like Christina Cole much better as Caroline than Mrs. Elton (she gives the same performance, and it feels more fitting as Caroline.)

Which Caroline Bingley is your favorite?

Kelly Reilly (Pride & Prejudice 2005)
Jessica Jade Andres (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Christina Cole (Lost in Austen)
Kara Holden (Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy 2003)
Anna Chancellor (Pride and Prejudice 1995)
Please Specify:
personality quizzes

1. Lucy Steele

The character: a total phony whose life motto must be "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer" in Sense & Sensibility. If anyone sets in on her property, she'll make them suffer...just not in as obvious of ways as the other Austen villainesses.

Best Portrayal:
I have to give it to Imogen Stubbs from the '95 version. She is the most two-faced villainess you could possibly imagine. Any chance she gets to torment her competition, she will most assuredly do so...and say the most cutting remarks she can possibly think of. She seems like a simple villainess on the surface, but really...she takes the cake for all of them.

Worst Portrayal:
Once again, the two modern versions from 2011 were severely lacking in fleshing out characters. In From Prada to Nada, Lucy shows up in one scene basically as a prop and in Scents and Sensibility she's a sulky woman who doesn't even have a chance with Edward. Definitely not the villainess she's meant to be!

Worth mentioning: Again the most notable adaptation out there besides the 95 version is the one done in '08...but honestly, I can't remember the Lucy one bit from when I saw it. According to the people on Tumblr though, she's very good.

Which Lucy Steele is your favorite?

Imogen Stubbs (Sense and Sensibility 1995)
Anna Madely (Sense & Sensibility 2008)
Jaclyn Hales (Scents and Sensibility)
Karla Souza (From Prada to Nada)
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

Honorary/Honorable Mention Villainesses:

Mrs. Wattlesbrook - Austenland. She's basically what an effective Mrs. Norris should have been. Lady Susan Vernon Martin - Love & Friendship. Kate Beckinsale was fabulous in Love & Friendship, but it's hard to know whether she's the villain or heroine of her tale because she's the character you end up rooting for!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

These parts would be really fun to play. Lots of good scenery chewing going on.