Entertainment The Best Actresses in Film History  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
1M votes 48.5k voters 659.3k views 931 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
1
12,758 8,918
Meryl Streep is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sophie's Choice, Kramer vs. Kramer, Out of Africa
2
6,634 4,126
Katharine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Thornapple added Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen
3
8,225 6,788
Cate Blanchett is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator
4
10,537 5,218
Audrey Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Breakfast at Tiffany's, My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday
5
7,346 4,459
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
All About Eve, P.S. I Love You, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
6
6,753 4,294
Helen Mirren is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station
7
6,609 4,357
Vivien Leigh is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Gone with the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ship of Fools
8
6,564 4,002
Judi Dench is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Philomena, Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love
9
6,299 3,747
Maggie Smith is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
California Suite, Gosford Park, A Room with a View
10
6,656 5,217
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused
11
6,373 4,008
Ingrid Bergman is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso
12
6,294 4,667
Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Cleopatra, National Velvet, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
13
5,483 3,801
Emma Thompson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sense and Sensibility, Howards End, The Remains of the Day
14
6,933 4,540
Kate Winslet is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Reader, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Titanic
15
5,812 3,526
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes
16
5,259 4,031
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Dead Man Walking, The Client, Thelma & Louise
17
6,005 3,302
Julie Andrews is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie
18
5,184 4,031
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs
19
4,657 3,242
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong
20
4,946 3,089
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump
21
4,490 3,461
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Aliens, Gorillas in the Mist, Working Girl
22
5,292 3,645
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Still Alice, The End of the Affair, Boogie Nights
23
5,324 3,331
Helena Bonham Carter is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fight Club, The King's Speech, The Wings of the Dove
24
3,319 2,254
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country
25
6,072 3,831
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed