The Best Actresses in Film History

405k votes 23k voters 340k views 696 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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  • 133 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 4,946
    - 3,733

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

    ;
  2. 2
    + 4,107
    - 2,215

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

    ;
  3. 3
    + 3,328
    - 2,782


    Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen

    ;
  4. 4
    + 2,428
    - 2,695

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

    ;
  5. 5
    + 2,865
    - 2,257


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

    ;
  6. 6
    + 2,603
    - 1,851


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

    ;
  7. 7
    + 2,605
    - 2,303


    Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

    ;
  8. 8
    + 2,751
    - 2,307


    Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator

    ;
  9. 9
    + 2,588
    - 2,454


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

    ;
  10. 10
    + 2,350
    - 2,037


    The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station

    ;
  11. 11
    + 2,410
    - 2,207


    The Reader, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Titanic

    ;
  12. 12
    + 2,292
    - 1,777


    Philomena, Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love

    ;
  13. 13
    + 2,243
    - 1,806


    California Suite, Gosford Park, A Room with a View

    ;
  14. 14
    + 2,224
    - 1,894


    Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs

    ;
  15. 15
    + 1,922
    - 1,674


    Still Alice, The End of the Affair, Boogie Nights

    ;
  16. 16
    + 1,917
    - 1,863

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

    ;
  17. 17
    + 2,108
    - 1,610


    The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie

    ;
  18. 18
    + 1,914
    - 1,518


    Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes

    ;
  19. 19
    + 1,811
    - 1,763

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

    ;
  20. 20
    + 1,750
    - 1,265


    Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump

    ;
  21. 21
    + 1,622
    - 1,228


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

    ;
  22. 22
    + 1,654
    - 1,712


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

    ;
  23. 23
    + 1,557
    - 1,489


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

    ;
  24. 24
    + 1,464
    - 1,535

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

    ;
  25. 25
    + 1,912
    - 1,703


    The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed

    ;
  26. 26
    + 1,518
    - 1,328


    Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong

    ;
  27. 27
    + 1,805
    - 1,927

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

    ;
  28. 28
    + 1,571
    - 1,300

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

    ;
  29. 29
    + 1,665
    - 1,817

    often listed
    Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias

    ;
  30. 30
    + 1,766
    - 1,871


    Rear Window, High Noon, Dial M for Murder

    ;
  31. 31
    + 1,401
    - 1,248


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

    ;
  32. 32
    + 2,183
    - 2,360

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

    ;
  33. 33
    + 1,249
    - 940

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

    ;
  34. 34
    + 1,305
    - 1,112


    Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, The Turning Point

    ;
  35. 35
    + 1,432
    - 1,303


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

    ;
  36. 36
    + 1,270
    - 1,449

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

    ;
  37. 37
    + 841
    - 832


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

    ;
  38. 38
    + 1,064
    - 962


    American Hustle, The Master, Doubt

    ;
  39. 39
    + 1,233
    - 1,091


    Anna Christie, Ninotchka, Camille

    ;
  40. 40
    + 1,236
    - 1,254


    West Side Story, The Searchers, Rebel Without a Cause

    ;
  41. 41
    + 1,297
    - 1,174


    The Miracle Worker, The Graduate, The Turning Point

    ;
  42. 42
    + 1,419
    - 1,368


    Double Indemnity, Sorry Wrong Number, Stella Dallas

    ;
  43. 43
    + 1,223
    - 1,217


    The Hours, Moulin Rouge!, Rabbit Hole

    ;
  44. 44
    + 1,579
    - 1,908

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

    ;
  45. 45
    + 1,097
    - 855

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

    ;
  46. 46
    + 1,484
    - 1,488


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

    ;
  47. 47
    + 796
    - 752


    American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election

    ;
  48. 48
    + 787
    - 642


    Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country

    ;
  49. 49
    + 1,142
    - 981


    Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter, In the Bedroom

    ;
  50. 50
    + 978
    - 1,001


    Klute, Coming Home, The China Syndrome

    ;
697 +

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