We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
It seems unavoidable. We all have people in our lives that, whether we admit or not, makes our lives a living hell. For some it’s a showy neighbor, for others it comes in the form of an obnoxious classmate, but more often than not, the people we can’t stand the most are the ones that spend most of their work day, telling us what to do with our work day. That’s right, I’m talking about bosses.
In honor of the release of Horrible Bosses, I’m going to take you through the years in movies to highlight some of the other bad movie bosses that make the cut.
7. Office Space (1999) – Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole)
Recap: Mike Judge’s workplace comedy details the trials and tribulations of a group of office workers who are faced with the unexpected threat of lay-offs. For Peter Gibbons, the only thing more frightening than losing his job might be the prospect of working another day in this place.
Reason: Bill Lumbergh is the type of boss most of us can’t help but dread. The micro-managing middle-ager is never seen doing much work of his own, but rather, telling others what to do and then reaping the benefits from it. The only thing more cringe-worthy than his method of getting to the top is his passive-aggressive way of staying on top. Taking all the glory and shirking all the blame, he seems to spend most of the day meandering the office, only stopping briefly to give a “yeeaahh…” or ask someone to stay late, rather than doing any work of his own.
6. 9 to 5 (1980) – Franklin Hart Jr. (Dabney Coleman)
Recap: Three successful career women plan and plot to get rid of their misogynistic boss once and for all after he unfairly passes one of them over for a promotion.
Reason: 9 to 5 is the ultimate revenge story. Sure, some people may think it’s Oldboy or I Spit on Your Grave but what 9 to 5 does so well, without violence or shock value, is show why Franklin Hart Jr. deserves what’s coming to him. In a day and age where women are still tragically unappreciated in the workplace, the Franklin Hart Jr.’s of the world seem all too real. Using his position of power to try to get what he wants and wielding his power as he sees fit, by the end of the movie, the boss of 9 to 5 deserves to have his coffee poisoned.
5. Working Girl (1988) – Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver)
Recap: Hard-working Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) struggles to find her place in the male-dominated business world. Matters are only made worse when she goes to work for Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), who turns out to be just as deceitful and untrustworthy as the men in Tess’s life.
Reason: Katharine Parker represents one of the worst kinds of bosses. First and foremost, thanks to her ivy league education and “superior breeding” she has the type of unwarranted superiority that most of us have encountered in a boss or two in our lives. However, her worst offense is her manipulation of Tess. The sugary-sweet demeanor? Sure, it’s a little obnoxious, but the vindictive and venomous undertones make it all the worse.
4. The Apartment (1960) – Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray)
Recap: Young up and comer C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) sees an opportunity to make a name for himself in the business world by lending out his apartment to philandering executives. Matters are complicated when his boss falls for the woman of Baxter’s dreams.
Reason: Mr. Sheldrake isn’t your typical bad boss. He’s mainly an obstacle more than anything else. Sure, his business practices of favoring those who give him personal favors is a little questionable, but I’ve got to be honest, that’s not why I picked Mr. Sheldrake for this list. Not only is his blatant disregard for Fran Kubelik sickening, but when Baxter spends most of the movie pining for Ms. Kubelik, it’s difficult not to hate anyone that stands in the way of our charming protagonist.
3. Swimming With Sharks (1994) – Buddy (Kevin Spacey)
Recap: Guy (Frank Whaley) is forced to bear the verbal abuses of his tyrannical boss, Buddy (Spacey). When Guy is fired, he finally snaps and decides to kidnap Buddy.
Reason: Buddy really isn’t all bad. I mean, sure, you have to wait about an hour to figure this out, but even when we get a glance of Buddy’s vulnerable side, it’s hard to forgive Buddy for some of the things that he’s done in the movie. As if his verbally abusive nature isn’t enough, Buddy is the type of boss who tells you that you’re fired with a grin on his face. But that’s not enough. There’s some sort of perverse delight in every little thing Buddy does to make Guy’s life a living hell.
2. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) – Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep)
Recap: Overeducated and unemployed, young Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) is forced to decide if she has what it takes to make it in the world of fashion journalism when she finds herself the assistant of ice queen, Miranda Priestly (Streep).
Reason: Part of what makes Streep’s performance in The Devil Wears Prada so chilling is that it’s based off of real-life Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour. It’s hard to imagine someone so hardened and unfeeling, but if there’s anyone who can pull it off, it’s bound to be Streep. Sure, there are a couple attempts to soften the character, but after watching Andy neglect friends and family to make Miranda happy, it’s hard to do damage control. Although the character is certainly a surprisingly complex one, Miranda Priestly’s manipulation and exploitative actions make her a front runner for worst movie bosses of all time.
1. Wall Street (1987) – Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas)
Recap: Young trader Bud (Charlie Sheen) finds himself willing to do anything to impress the legendary Gordon Gekko (Douglas). Gekko soon proves that there’s no room for ethics or even laws in the cutthroat world of finance.
Reason: Say what you will about some of the other mentions on the list, none are as corrupt (morally or otherwise) as Gordon Gekko. In fact, out of all of the aforementioned nominees for worst movie boss, most if not all stopped short of illegal. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of Gordon Gekko. Gekko is one of those bosses who’s not afraid to make a mess of things, as long as he has someone else to do it or someone else to take the fall. In the end, it’s his manipulative nature and his inability to take personal responsibility that makes him one of the most reprehensible representations of the business world.