The Best Actresses in Film History

423k votes 24k voters 346k views 756 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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  • 138 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 5,081
    - 3,918

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

    ;
  2. 2
    + 4,284
    - 2,311

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

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2,720
    - 2,339


    Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

    ;
  4. 4
    + 2,981
    - 2,306


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

    ;
  5. 5
    + 2,726
    - 1,897


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

    ;
  6. 6
    + 2,515
    - 2,821

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

    ;
  7. 7
    + 2,847
    - 2,405


    Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator

    ;
  8. 8
    + 2,712
    - 2,500


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

    ;
  9. 9
    + 2,491
    - 2,301


    The Reader, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Titanic

    ;
  10. 10
    + 2,420
    - 2,125


    The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station

    ;
  11. 11
    + 2,378
    - 1,837


    Philomena, Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love

    ;
  12. 12
    + 2,321
    - 1,859


    California Suite, Gosford Park, A Room with a View

    ;
  13. 13
    + 2,271
    - 1,960


    Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs

    ;
  14. 14
    + 1,990
    - 1,724


    Still Alice, The End of the Affair, Boogie Nights

    ;
  15. 15
    + 1,977
    - 1,916

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

    ;
  16. 16
    + 2,174
    - 1,648


    The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie

    ;
  17. 17
    + 1,977
    - 1,565


    Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes

    ;
  18. 18
    + 1,868
    - 1,803

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

    ;
  19. 19
    + 1,669
    - 1,260


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

    ;
  20. 20
    + 1,797
    - 1,310


    Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump

    ;
  21. 21
    + 1,705
    - 1,743


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

    ;
  22. 22
    + 1,618
    - 1,531


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

    ;
  23. 23
    + 1,507
    - 1,580

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

    ;
  24. 24
    + 1,978
    - 1,756


    The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed

    ;
  25. 25
    + 1,577
    - 1,363


    Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong

    ;
  26. 26
    + 1,623
    - 1,326


    The Wizard of Oz, Judgment at Nuremberg, A Star Is Born

    ;
  27. 27
    + 1,855
    - 1,967


    The Fabulous Baker Boys, Scarface, Dangerous Liaisons

    ;
  28. 28
    + 1,813
    - 1,903


    Rear Window, High Noon, Dial M for Murder

    ;
  29. 29
    + 1,307
    - 975

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

    ;
  30. 30
    + 1,727
    - 1,867

    often listed
    Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias

    ;
  31. 31
    + 1,491
    - 1,335


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

    ;
  32. 32
    + 1,353
    - 1,144


    Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, The Turning Point

    ;
  33. 33
    + 2,252
    - 2,432

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

    ;
  34. 34
    + 1,451
    - 1,279


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

    ;
  35. 35
    + 1,139
    - 998


    American Hustle, The Master, Doubt

    ;
  36. 36
    + 1,277
    - 1,116


    Anna Christie, Ninotchka, Camille

    ;
  37. 37
    + 1,339
    - 1,202


    The Miracle Worker, The Graduate, The Turning Point

    ;
  38. 38
    + 1,309
    - 1,476

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

    ;
  39. 39
    + 883
    - 867


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

    ;
  40. 40
    + 1,277
    - 1,284


    West Side Story, The Searchers, Rebel Without a Cause

    ;
  41. 41
    + 1,142
    - 885

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

    ;
  42. 42
    + 1,462
    - 1,398


    Double Indemnity, Sorry Wrong Number, Stella Dallas

    ;
  43. 43
    + 828
    - 669


    Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country

    ;
  44. 44
    + 1,548
    - 1,530


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

    ;
  45. 45
    + 1,191
    - 1,004


    Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter, In the Bedroom

    ;
  46. 46
    + 1,265
    - 1,263


    The Hours, Moulin Rouge!, Rabbit Hole

    ;
  47. 47
    + 1,103
    - 1,170


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

    ;
  48. 48
    + 1,025
    - 1,041


    Klute, Coming Home, The China Syndrome

    ;
  49. 49
    + 1,646
    - 1,986


    Black Swan, Leon: The Professional, Closer

    ;
  50. 50
    + 837
    - 792


    American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election

    ;
757 +

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