The Best Actresses in Film History

324k votes 20k voters 292k views 553 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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  • 116 ReRanks
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    • Men
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  1. 1
    + 4,302
    - 2,928

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

    ;
  2. 2
    + 3,364
    - 1,757

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

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2,870
    - 2,258


    Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen

    ;
  4. 4
    + 2,461
    - 1,784


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

    ;
  5. 5
    + 2,231
    - 1,864


    Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

    ;
  6. 6
    + 2,148
    - 1,460


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

    ;
  7. 7
    + 2,167
    - 1,988


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

    ;
  8. 8
    + 2,329
    - 1,804


    Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator

    ;
  9. 9
    + 2,048
    - 2,112

    often listed
    The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused

    ;
  10. 10
    + 1,975
    - 1,628


    The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station

    ;
  11. 11
    + 1,894
    - 1,477


    California Suite, Gosford Park, A Room with a View

    ;
  12. 12
    + 1,978
    - 1,573


    Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs

    ;
  13. 13
    + 1,993
    - 1,835

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Reader, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Titanic

    ;
  14. 14
    + 1,963
    - 1,511


    Philomena, Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love

    ;
  15. 15
    + 1,618
    - 1,389


    Still Alice, The End of the Affair, Boogie Nights

    ;
  16. 16
    + 1,814
    - 1,373


    The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie

    ;
  17. 17
    + 1,401
    - 996


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

    ;
  18. 18
    + 1,656
    - 1,623

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

    ;
  19. 19
    + 1,540
    - 1,508


    Dead Man Walking, The Client, Thelma & Louise

    ;
  20. 20
    + 1,486
    - 1,032


    Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump

    ;
  21. 21
    + 1,582
    - 1,296


    Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes

    ;
  22. 22
    + 1,434
    - 1,485


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

    ;
  23. 23
    + 1,271
    - 1,238


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

    ;
  24. 24
    + 1,349
    - 1,068

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

    ;
  25. 25
    + 1,552
    - 1,656

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

    ;
  26. 26
    + 1,603
    - 1,417


    The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed

    ;
  27. 27
    + 1,269
    - 1,105


    Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong

    ;
  28. 28
    + 1,215
    - 1,305

    often listed
    Aliens, Gorillas in the Mist, Working Girl

    ;
  29. 29
    + 1,392
    - 1,529

    often listed
    Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias

    ;
  30. 30
    + 1,538
    - 1,635

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

    ;
  31. 31
    + 1,195
    - 1,040


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

    ;
  32. 32
    + 1,214
    - 1,069

    ranked low on reranks
    Two Women, Marriage Italian-Style, It Started in Naples

    ;
  33. 33
    + 998
    - 726

    ranked low on reranks
    Annie Hall, Marvin's Room, Reds

    ;
  34. 34
    + 1,883
    - 1,992

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

    ;
  35. 35
    + 917
    - 638

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

    ;
  36. 36
    + 1,061
    - 879


    Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, The Turning Point

    ;
  37. 37
    + 1,104
    - 1,217

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

    ;
  38. 38
    + 1,237
    - 1,130


    Double Indemnity, Sorry Wrong Number, Stella Dallas

    ;
  39. 39
    + 1,116
    - 958


    The Miracle Worker, The Graduate, The Turning Point

    ;
  40. 40
    + 1,051
    - 1,028


    West Side Story, The Searchers, Rebel Without a Cause

    ;
  41. 41
    + 960
    - 794


    Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter, In the Bedroom

    ;
  42. 42
    + 1,311
    - 1,513


    Black Swan, Leon: The Professional, Closer

    ;
  43. 43
    + 905
    - 953


    From Here to Eternity, The King and I, Heaven Knows

    ;
  44. 44
    + 960
    - 935


    The Hours, Moulin Rouge!, Rabbit Hole

    ;
  45. 45
    + 809
    - 789


    Klute, Coming Home, The China Syndrome

    ;
  46. 46
    + 1,247
    - 1,228


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

    ;
  47. 47
    + 888
    - 1,014

    often listed
    The Night of the Iguana, Mogambo, Bhowani Junction

    ;
  48. 48
    + 957
    - 914


    Anna Christie, Ninotchka, Camille

    ;
  49. 49
    + 838
    - 796


    American Hustle, The Master, Doubt

    ;
  50. 50
    + 643
    - 484

    ranked low on reranks
    Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country

    ;
554 +

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