Actresses The Best Actresses in Film History  

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Originally by Ranker Community
893.5k votes 42.3k voters 595.7k views 853 items

List Rules 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.
list ordered by
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51
2,680 2,036
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 51 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Miracle Worker, The Graduate, The Turning Point

52
2,036 1,965
Faye Dunaway is listed (or ranked) 52 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Network, Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown

53
2,709 1,889
Reese Witherspoon is listed (or ranked) 53 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election

54
1,466 1,361
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 54 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Boyz n the Hood, Green Lantern, Malcolm X

55
2,050 1,838
Goldie Hawn is listed (or ranked) 55 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Coolza added Cactus Flower, Private Benjamin, There's a Girl in My Soup

56
2,180 1,790
Hilary Swank is listed (or ranked) 56 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Million Dollar Baby, Boys Don't Cry, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

57
2,486 1,712
Maureen O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 57 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Miracle on 34th Street, The Quiet Man, How Green Was My Valley

58
1,924 2,204
Tilda Swinton is listed (or ranked) 58 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Michael Clayton, The Deep End, We Need to Talk About Kevin

59
1,480 962
Robin Wright is listed (or ranked) 59 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride, Unbreakable

60
3,236 2,613
Marilyn Monroe is listed (or ranked) 60 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Some Like It Hot, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch

61
2,167 1,958
Uma Thurman is listed (or ranked) 61 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Dangerous Liaisons

62
1,723 1,405
Debbie Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 62 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
tafish123 added Singin' in the Rain, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Charlotte's Web

63
1,563 1,545
Holly Hunter is listed (or ranked) 63 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Incredibles, Raising Arizona, O Brother

64
2,586 2,201
Barbara Stanwyck is listed (or ranked) 64 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Double Indemnity, Sorry Wrong Number, Stella Dallas

65
1,359 998
Carrie Fisher is listed (or ranked) 65 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
david-p-griffith added Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi

66
2,030 1,705
Ellen Burstyn is listed (or ranked) 66 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

67
2,300 1,983
Greta Garbo is listed (or ranked) 67 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Anna Christie, Ninotchka, Camille

68
2,072 1,633
Angela Lansbury is listed (or ranked) 68 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Manchurian Candidate, Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray

69
1,829 1,346
Jessica Tandy is listed (or ranked) 69 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Coolza added Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes, Cocoon

70
3,078 2,852
Jennifer Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 70 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Silver Linings Playbook, Winter's Bone, American Hustle

71
1,651 1,609
Kathleen Turner is listed (or ranked) 71 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Peggy Sue Got Married, Prizzie's Honor, Body Heat

72
2,433 1,953
Emma Stone is listed (or ranked) 72 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Amazing Spider-Man, Zombieland, Superbad

73
2,020 1,977
Ava Gardner is listed (or ranked) 73 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Night of the Iguana, Mogambo, Bhowani Junction

74
2,194 1,667
Jamie Lee Curtis is listed (or ranked) 74 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Coolza added A Fish Called Wanda, Trading Places, Halloween

75
1,717 1,753
Jessica Chastain is listed (or ranked) 75 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Zero Dark Thirty, The Help, A Most Violent Year

76
1,875 1,556
Anjelica Huston is listed (or ranked) 76 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Grifters, Prizzi's Honor, Enemies: A Love Story

77
1,821 1,735
Naomi Watts is listed (or ranked) 77 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
King Kong, The Ring, Mulholland Drive

78
1,827 1,832
Bette Midler is listed (or ranked) 78 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Oliver & Company, Hocus Pocus, Fantasia 2000

79
1,990 1,944
Deborah Kerr is listed (or ranked) 79 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
From Here to Eternity, The King and I, Heaven Knows

80
2,246 1,981
Emma Watson is listed (or ranked) 80 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

81
1,933 1,578
Helen Hunt is listed (or ranked) 81 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
As Good as It Gets, The Sessions, Pay It Forward

82
1,737 2,027
Vanessa Redgrave is listed (or ranked) 82 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Julia, Isadora, Howards End

83
1,792 1,565
Marisa Tomei is listed (or ranked) 83 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
My Cousin Vinny, The Wrestler, Crazy

84
1,758 1,626
Marion Cotillard is listed (or ranked) 84 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
La Vie en Rose, Two Days One Night, Rust and Bone

85
2,065 1,731
Drew Barrymore is listed (or ranked) 85 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Scream, Donnie Darko

86
2,161 2,119
Keira Knightley is listed (or ranked) 86 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Imitation Game, Pride & Prejudice, Atonement

87
1,523 1,159
Janet Leigh is listed (or ranked) 87 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Psycho, The Manchurian Candidate, Touch of Evil

88
1,911 1,512
Doris Day is listed (or ranked) 88 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Man Who Knew Too Much, Pillow Talk, Calamity Jane

89
1,912 1,526
Shirley Temple is listed (or ranked) 89 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Bright Eyes, The Little Princess, Curly Top

90
1,423 1,547
Laura Linney is listed (or ranked) 90 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Savages, You Can Count on Me, Kinsey

91
1,499 861
Emily Blunt is listed (or ranked) 91 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
angelop24 added Looper, The Muppets, The Devil Wears Prada

92
1,313 1,594
Kirsten Dunst is listed (or ranked) 92 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

93
1,737 1,719
Marlene Dietrich is listed (or ranked) 93 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Morocco, Judgment at Nuremberg, Witness for the Prosecution

94
1,916 1,782
Winona Ryder is listed (or ranked) 94 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Little Women, The Age of Innocence, Mermaids

95
1,566 1,564
Juliette Binoche is listed (or ranked) 95 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The English Patient, Chocolat, Godzilla

96
2,580 2,156
Anne Hathaway is listed (or ranked) 96 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Les Misérables, Rachel Getting Married, Brokeback Mountain

97
1,166 1,353
Lily Tomlin is listed (or ranked) 97 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
9 to 5, Nashville, Orange County

98
1,627 1,652
Claudette Colbert is listed (or ranked) 98 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
It Happened One Night, Since You Went Away, Private Worlds

99
1,535 1,237
Joanne Woodward is listed (or ranked) 99 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Three Faces of Eve, Summer Wishes Winter Dreams, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge

100
1,458 1,286
Myrna Loy is listed (or ranked) 100 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Best Years of Our Lives, The Thin Man, The End