The Best Actresses in Film History

403k votes 23k voters 339k views 697 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Female film actresses only!

The best actresses ever are ranked here in this list of the best actresses in film history. These are the greatest actresses ever to appear on the silver screen - female only (to vote on both genders, check out this list of the greatest film actors and actresses). These women were part of some of the greatest movies of all time (or were perhaps the reason they were the best movies ever), with countless Academy Awards between them.

What are the qualities of the best actresses of all time? Is it the raw emotion they show, the parts they choose, their acting methods, or simply their effortless charm and charisma? There's no denying some of these amazing actresses belong on the list of the hottest celebrities of all time, but behind the 1000 watt smiles lies the talent that defines generations of actresses.

Who is the best actor of all time? Is it a classic actor like Katharine Hepburn, a comedic genius like Tina Fey, a stunner like Catherine Zeta-Jones, or a method actor like Meryl Streep? There are so many choices for the greatest movie actress ever that you may have a hard time choosing just one (although you can vote for as many of the actresses on this list of the greatest actresses ever as you want). If your favorite leading lady isn't on the list, make sure to add her so others can vote for her to receive the title of best actress in film history.
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  • 132 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 4,933
    - 3,726

    the people's #1 & most listed
    Sophie's Choice, Kramer vs. Kramer, Out of Africa

    ;
  2. 2
    + 4,101
    - 2,204

    ranked low on reranks
    Breakfast at Tiffany's, My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday

    ;
  3. 3
    + 3,322
    - 2,779


    Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen

    ;
  4. 4
    + 2,424
    - 2,690

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused

    ;
  5. 5
    + 2,863
    - 2,253


    All About Eve, P.S. I Love You, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

    ;
  6. 6
    + 2,602
    - 1,846


    Gone with the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ship of Fools

    ;
  7. 7
    + 2,603
    - 2,299


    Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

    ;
  8. 8
    + 2,744
    - 2,305


    Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator

    ;
  9. 9
    + 2,587
    - 2,448


    Cleopatra, National Velvet, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

    ;
  10. 10
    + 2,344
    - 2,036


    The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station

    ;
  11. 11
    + 2,405
    - 2,204


    The Reader, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Titanic

    ;
  12. 12
    + 2,287
    - 1,776


    Philomena, Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love

    ;
  13. 13
    + 2,241
    - 1,802


    California Suite, Gosford Park, A Room with a View

    ;
  14. 14
    + 1,918
    - 1,673


    Still Alice, The End of the Affair, Boogie Nights

    ;
  15. 15
    + 2,222
    - 1,890


    Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs

    ;
  16. 16
    + 1,913
    - 1,860

    often listed
    Sense and Sensibility, Howards End, The Remains of the Day

    ;
  17. 17
    + 2,105
    - 1,607


    The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie

    ;
  18. 18
    + 1,906
    - 1,515


    Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes

    ;
  19. 19
    + 1,805
    - 1,760

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Dead Man Walking, The Client, Thelma & Louise

    ;
  20. 20
    + 1,744
    - 1,263


    Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump

    ;
  21. 21
    + 1,621
    - 1,223


    Mildred Pierce, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Four Walls

    ;
  22. 22
    + 1,652
    - 1,708


    The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, The Mirror Has Two Faces

    ;
  23. 23
    + 1,551
    - 1,486


    Fight Club, The King's Speech, The Wings of the Dove

    ;
  24. 24
    + 1,907
    - 1,700


    The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed

    ;
  25. 25
    + 1,458
    - 1,533

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Aliens, Gorillas in the Mist, Working Girl

    ;
  26. 26
    + 1,514
    - 1,326


    Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong

    ;
  27. 27
    + 1,800
    - 1,925

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Fabulous Baker Boys, Scarface, Dangerous Liaisons

    ;
  28. 28
    + 1,661
    - 1,814


    Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias

    ;
  29. 29
    + 1,570
    - 1,296

    ranked low on reranks
    The Wizard of Oz, Judgment at Nuremberg, A Star Is Born

    ;
  30. 30
    + 1,766
    - 1,866

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Rear Window, High Noon, Dial M for Murder

    ;
  31. 31
    + 1,400
    - 1,245


    The Heiress, Gone with the Wind, To Each His Own

    ;
  32. 32
    + 2,177
    - 2,355

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Monster, North Country, Young Adult

    ;
  33. 33
    + 1,244
    - 938


    Annie Hall, Marvin's Room, Reds

    ;
  34. 34
    + 1,303
    - 1,110


    Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, The Turning Point

    ;
  35. 35
    + 1,430
    - 1,298


    Two Women, Marriage Italian-Style, It Started in Naples

    ;
  36. 36
    + 1,270
    - 1,445

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Gilda, Circus World, The Lady from Shanghai

    ;
  37. 37
    + 838
    - 830


    A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream, House of Sand and Fog

    ;
  38. 38
    + 1,233
    - 1,088


    Anna Christie, Ninotchka, Camille

    ;
  39. 39
    + 1,235
    - 1,251


    West Side Story, The Searchers, Rebel Without a Cause

    ;
  40. 40
    + 1,293
    - 1,173


    The Miracle Worker, The Graduate, The Turning Point

    ;
  41. 41
    + 1,417
    - 1,364


    Double Indemnity, Sorry Wrong Number, Stella Dallas

    ;
  42. 42
    + 1,059
    - 960


    American Hustle, The Master, Doubt

    ;
  43. 43
    + 1,573
    - 1,903

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Black Swan, Leon: The Professional, Closer

    ;
  44. 44
    + 1,216
    - 1,217


    The Hours, Moulin Rouge!, Rabbit Hole

    ;
  45. 45
    + 1,095
    - 852

    ranked low on reranks
    Miracle on 34th Street, The Quiet Man, How Green Was My Valley

    ;
  46. 46
    + 793
    - 749


    American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election

    ;
  47. 47
    + 785
    - 641


    Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country

    ;
  48. 48
    + 1,481
    - 1,484


    Some Like It Hot, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch

    ;
  49. 49
    + 975
    - 999


    Klute, Coming Home, The China Syndrome

    ;
  50. 50
    + 1,139
    - 980


    Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter, In the Bedroom

    ;
698 +

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