Entertainment

The Best Actresses in Film History  

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Originally by Ranker Community
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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
Katharine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Thornapple added Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen
2
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
All About Eve, P.S. I Love You, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
3
Meryl Streep is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sophie's Choice, Kramer vs. Kramer, Out of Africa
4
Ingrid Bergman is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso
5
Cate Blanchett is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator
6
Audrey Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Breakfast at Tiffany's, My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday
7
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
Julie Andrews is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie
9
Helen Mirren is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station
10
Judi Dench is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Philomena, Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love
11
Olivia de Havilland is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Heiress, Gone with the Wind, To Each His Own
12
Maggie Smith is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
California Suite, Gosford Park, A Room with a View
13
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes
14
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Mildred Pierce, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Four Walls
15
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused
16
Judy Garland is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Wizard of Oz, Judgment at Nuremberg, A Star Is Born
17
Emma Thompson is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sense and Sensibility, Howards End, The Remains of the Day
18
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump
19
Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Cleopatra, National Velvet, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
20
Maureen O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Miracle on 34th Street, The Quiet Man, How Green Was My Valley
21
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong
22
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Dead Man Walking, The Client, Thelma & Louise
23
Kate Winslet is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Reader, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Titanic
24
Natalie Wood is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
West Side Story, The Searchers, Rebel Without a Cause
25
Deborah Kerr is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
From Here to Eternity, The King and I, Heaven Knows