I asked a bunch of people over the weekend about their favorite movie villainesses, and discovered something amusing: When you say "movie villainess," most people automatically think "Disney." Disney animated films seem to have set the standard for evil, conniving women in Hollywood. Other people bring up the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, another unquestionable, unwavering villainess, although I always found the flying monkeys scarier than Margaret Hamilton, myself.
Our best villainesses in film are sometimes scary, sometimes a little campy, sometimes seemingly inhuman. Disney's witches are fine if you want uncomplicated opposition, and fun to watch, but I also like the women who seem to have everyone's best interest at heart while they spread nastiness throughout a movie. We have so many memorable, wonderful, terrifyingly evil women in film that I can't simply make a list of five or six, so I've instead compiled a list of categories into which many of our most villainous female characters fall.