First, we have to go over who’s played the role of M in the James Bond movies, and then it becomes easier to determine, in our opinion anyway, who was the best at it. From Bernard Lee to Robert Brown to Dame Judie Dench to Ralph Fiennes, M has been a constant in James Bond’s life that has been more or less in charge of the super-spy and thus has had the unenviable position of reigning him in from time to time. To say that any single person is better than the other is kind of difficult mainly because only two of them really had the chance to oversee MI6 in the same time period, since Lee and Brown came from an earlier time and as such, Bond’s behavior, while not always looked upon kindly, was often looked past as many people would likely agree. There’s no doubt of who Bond is and who the character has always been since he can be a gentleman but he’s usually a martini-drinking ladies man that does things his own way as long as he can get away with it and doesn’t appreciate being bound up by rules a lot of the time. While Lee and Brown took their roles as M seriously enough to turn in a decent performance and make it clear that they were in charge, Dench managed to do something that the first two didn’t, or wouldn’t according to the script. She collared Bond in a manner that he didn’t fully appreciate but in a way that he really needed according to many people since his apparent misogyny was becoming a bit of a problem for some and his overall persona was seen to be a little troubling. In other words, people no longer appreciated what they saw as toxic masculinity and were glad to see someone calm Bond down occasionally.
Of course, as good as Dench has been, she still hasn’t been able to collar Bond completely since he’s still done plenty of things over the course of the many movies she’s been a part of, and it’s likely that despite what people want, he’s going to continue to do such things since this is a fundamental part of his character. While a few things might be changed here and there to accommodate those that want things to be more PC (good luck with that) Bond is going to keep being the same type of guy he’s been for a while. What would be really amusing is if the decision to make Bond a woman in the years to come was enacted, and somehow the same behavior carried over and nothing was said about it. Many people might want to disagree with this, but since it’s a hypothetical that hasn’t happened yet, it’s kind of pointless simply because until it does come to pass, there’s no way to tell what might happen. As of now though, our opinion is that Judie Dench has managed to play the best M at this point, but this is in part because Ralph Fiennes hasn’t really done a lot in this position yet. It might remain Dench though, since not only was she a great and needed change in the Bond franchise, she was also someone that could stand up to Bond and make her will known, and even go so far as to remind Bond just who was in charge at times. There was no sweet-talking her, at last not to the point that it would make her melt like so many other women.
Dench was essentially the wall that Bond couldn’t move, the boss that didn’t put up with his antics as much, and even better was that she let him know about it. Dench as M was a tough, tough lady that didn’t allow Bond to do whatever he wanted, even if she couldn’t stop him every time an idea popped into his head. But when the two of them were in the same room it wasn’t a question of who was in charge, as Dench is the type of actress that is able to stand up and lay down the law when she needs to. She can be a sweet older woman and a character that is more or less fun and endearing, but she can also be vicious and a definite authority figure when she needs to be, which is why she was perfect for the role of M in the James Bond movies since she wasn’t about to be walked on or maneuvered around that easily. A lot of people might have a different answer to this question, but overall we do have to give it to Judie Dench in her portrayal as M, if only because she was able to counter Bond so often and in such a great way.