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The Best Actresses in Film History 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated March 24, 2020 1.2M votes 61.3k voters 751.7k views 853 items

List Rules Vote up the women in film, living or passed, who have consistently turned out the best performances.

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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list ordered by
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26
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed
27
Maureen O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Miracle on 34th Street, The Quiet Man, How Green Was My Valley
28
Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Rear Window, High Noon, Dial M for Murder
29
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Dead Man Walking, The Client, Thelma & Louise
30
Natalie Portman is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Black Swan, Leon: The Professional, Closer
31
Cate Blanchett is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator
32
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs
33
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country
34
Reese Witherspoon is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election
35
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Aliens, Gorillas in the Mist, Working Girl
36
Lauren Bacall is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, The Mirror Has Two Faces
37
Charlize Theron is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Monster, North Country, Young Adult
38
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Miracle Worker, The Graduate, The Turning Point
39
Natalie Wood is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
West Side Story, The Searchers, Rebel Without a Cause
40
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias
41
Shirley MacLaine is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, The Turning Point
42
Faye Dunaway is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Network, Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown
43
Marilyn Monroe is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Some Like It Hot, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch
44
Lucille Ball is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added All the Right Moves, Top Hat, Stage Door
45
Rachel McAdams is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers
46
Emma Stone is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Amazing Spider-Man, Zombieland, Superbad
47
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Help, Traffic, Out of Sight
48
Barbara Stanwyck is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Double Indemnity, Sorry Wrong Number, Stella Dallas
49
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Mildred Pierce, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Four Walls
50
Emily Blunt is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
angelop24 added Looper, The Muppets, The Devil Wears Prada