film The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time  

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These are some of the greatest performances by actresses of all time. They were brave, perfectly cast, and simply fantastic. The roles span decades and represent historical figures, such as Joan of Arc and Edith Piaf. Many of these top film performances showed women on screen in a way that had never been seen before, such as Penelope Cruz in Volver and Bette Davis in All About Eve.

The list includes breakout performances, such as Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone, and experienced actresses such as Emanuelle Riva, who already had a lifetime of work behind her when she did Amour.

Some of these actress performances were in acclaimed films and ended up being Oscar-winning roles, but they don't necessarily have to be to be included. As longs as the performance was incredible and one of the best Hollywood has seen, you'll find it listed here. Audrey Hepburn, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, the list goes on...

Which do you think are the best performances of all time turned in by female actresses? Cast your votes below!
list ordered by

1
+ - 239 112
Katharine Hepburn- Bringing Up... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Katharine Hepburn- Bringing Up Baby

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2
+ - 486 395
Audrey Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Audrey Hepburn - Breakfast at Tiffany's Breakfast at Tiffany's, My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1962

3
+ - 449 390
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Joan Crawford What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Grand Hotel, Mildred Pierce

4
+ - 225 161
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Jessica Lange - Frances Tootsie, Big Fish, Cape Fear

5
+ - 246 218
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Jodie Foster - The Accused The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, Contact - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1989

6
+ - 87 39
Vivien Leigh - Gone With the W... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Vivien Leigh - Gone With the Wind

7
+ - 232 208
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Anne Bancroft - The Graduate Blazing Saddles, The Graduate, Antz - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1968

8
+ - 130 91
Claudette Colbert is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Claudette Colbert - It Happened One Night It Happened One Night, The Palm Beach Story, It's a Wonderful World

9
+ - 78 30
Liza Minnelli is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Liza Minnelli - Cabaret Cabaret, Arthur, The Muppets Take Manhattan

10
+ - 150 115
Judy Garland - a Star Is Born is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Judy Garland - a Star Is Born

11
+ - 127 89
Lupita Nyong'o is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Lupita Nyong'o - 12 years a slave 12 Years a Slave, Non-Stop, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

12
+ - 138 106
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Frances McDormand - Fargo Fargo, Almost Famous, Raising Arizona - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1997

13
+ - 160 133
Sissy Spacek is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Sissy Spacek - Carrie Carrie, JFK, The Help - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1977

14
+ - 130 97
Emma Thompson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Emma Thompson - The Remains of the Day Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Brave - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1994

15
+ - 70 26
Charlotte Rampling is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Charlotte Rampling - 45 Years Angel Heart, The Verdict, Spy Game

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16
+ - 128 97
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Julianne Moore - Still Alice The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, The Big Lebowski - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2015

17
+ - 130 100
Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Diane Keaton - Annie Hall The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Annie Hall - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1978

18
+ - 118 90
Kristin Scott Thomas is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Kristin Scott Thomas - The English Patient The English Patient, Mission: Impossible, Four Weddings and a Funeral - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1997

19
+ - 121 95
Natalie Portman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Natalie Portman - Leon Thor, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

20
+ - 125 100
Ellen Burstyn is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Ellen Burstyn - Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream, Interstellar - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1975

21
+ - 138 117
Reese Witherspoon is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Reese Witherspoon - Election American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election

22
+ - 153 137
Jennifer Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, X-Men: First Class - Nominated, Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2011

23
+ - 409 458
Meryl Streep is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Meryl Streep - Sophie's Choice The Deer Hunter, Out of Africa, Kramer vs. Kramer - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1982

24
+ - 118 94
Naomi Watts is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Naomi Watts - The Impossible King Kong, The Ring, Mulholland Drive - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2013

25
+ - 135 116
Helen Mirren is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Helen Mirren - The Queen Monsters University, The Prince of Egypt, Excalibur - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2007

26
+ - 110 85
Julie Walters is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Julie Walters - Educating Rita Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1984

27
+ - 110 85
Claudia Cardinale is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Claudia Cardinale - Once upon a time in the West Once Upon a Time in the West, The Pink Panther, 8½

28
+ - 200 200
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Bette Davis - All About Eve All About Eve, P.S. I Love You, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1951

29
+ - 120 100
Holly Hunter is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Holly Hunter - The Piano The Incredibles, Raising Arizona, O Brother - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1994

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30
+ - 125 107
Nicole Kidman is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Nicole Kidman - The Hours Batman Forever, Eyes Wide Shut, Moulin Rouge! - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2003

31
+ - 140 129
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Sandra Bullock The Blind Side, Gravity, Crash

32
+ - 427 506
Audrey Hepburn - The Nun's Sto... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Audrey Hepburn - The Nun's Story The Nun's Story, Breakfast at Tiffany's, My Fair Lady

33
+ - 108 92
Theresa Russell - Insignifican... is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Theresa Russell - Insignificance Aria, Wild Things, Public Enemies, The Razor's Edge

34
+ - 115 103
Lauren Bacall is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Lauren Bacall - The Big Sleep Misery, The Big Sleep, Murder on the Orient Express

35
+ - 129 123
Julie Andrews is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Julie Andrews - The Sound of Music The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Shrek 2

36
+ - 120 112
Michelle Williams is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine Brokeback Mountain, Oz the Great and Powerful, Shutter Island - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2011

37
+ - 128 124
Gene Tierney is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Gene Tierney - Heaven can wait ('43) Laura, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Night and the City

38
+ - 143 152
Halle Berry is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Halle Berry - Monster's Ball X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men 2 - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2002

39
+ - 338 431
Katharine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Katharine Hepburn - The Philadelphia Story Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1941

40
+ - 143 160
Cate Blanchett is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2014

41
+ - 125 141
Michelle Pfeiffer - Batman Ret... is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Michelle Pfeiffer - Batman Returns

42
+ - 128 147
Ingrid Bergman is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Ingrid Bergman - Notorius Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

43
+ - 128 154
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Kathy Bates - Misery Titanic, Misery, The Blind Side - Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1991

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44
+ - 143 180
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Viola Davis - The Help The Help, Traffic, Out of Sight - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2012

45
+ - 41 34
Jodie Foster-the Silence of th... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Jodie Foster-the Silence of the Lambs

46
+ - 140 200
Gloria Swanson is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Gloria Swanson - Sunset Boulevard Sunset Boulevard, Airport 1975, His New Job - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1951

47
+ - 113 170
Renée Jeanne Falconetti is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Renée Jeanne Falconetti - Joan of Arc The Passion of Joan of Arc

48
+ - 110 175
Judi Dench is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal Casino Royale, Skyfall, Shakespeare in Love - Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2007

49
+ - 115 190
Marlene Dietrich is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Marlene Dietrich - Touch of Evil Touch of Evil, Get Shorty, Judgment at Nuremberg

50
+ - 122 217
Louise Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Louise Fletcher - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Cruel Intentions, Exorcist II: The Heretic