film The Best Actresses in Film History  

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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
7,051 5,704
Meryl Streep is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Meryl Streep Sophie's Choice, Kramer vs. Kramer, Out of Africa

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2
4,289 3,788
Cate Blanchett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator

3
5,947 3,483
Audrey Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's, My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday

4
4,049 2,610
Vivien Leigh is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Vivien Leigh Gone with the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ship of Fools

5
4,331 2,918
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Bette Davis All About Eve, P.S. I Love You, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

6
3,536 2,751
Helen Mirren is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Helen Mirren The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station

7
3,456 2,484
Judi Dench is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Judi Dench Philomena, Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love

8
3,420 2,389
Maggie Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Maggie Smith California Suite, Gosford Park, A Room with a View

9
3,787 2,841
Ingrid Bergman is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Ingrid Bergman Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

10
3,736 3,141
Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra, National Velvet, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

11
3,016 2,093
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Kathy Bates Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes

12
3,518 3,596
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Jodie Foster The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused

13
2,793 2,464
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Susan Sarandon Dead Man Walking, The Client, Thelma & Louise

14
2,877 2,468
Emma Thompson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Emma Thompson Sense and Sensibility, Howards End, The Remains of the Day

15
3,190 2,112
Julie Andrews is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Julie Andrews The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie

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16
3,626 3,022
Kate Winslet is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Kate Winslet The Reader, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Titanic

17
2,969 2,621
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Glenn Close Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs

18
2,670 1,785
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sally Field Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump

19
2,417 1,884
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Jessica Lange Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong

20
2,851 2,270
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Julianne Moore Still Alice, The End of the Affair, Boogie Nights

21
2,242 2,117
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sigourney Weaver Aliens, Gorillas in the Mist, Working Girl

22
2,049 1,843
Sophia Loren is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sophia Loren Two Women, Marriage Italian-Style, It Started in Naples

23
2,007 1,626
Shirley MacLaine is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Shirley MacLaine Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, The Turning Point

24
2,490 2,045
Helena Bonham Carter is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Helena Bonham Carter Fight Club, The King's Speech, The Wings of the Dove

25
2,308 1,738
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Joan Crawford Mildred Pierce, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Four Walls

26
2,333 2,159
Lauren Bacall is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Lauren Bacall The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, The Mirror Has Two Faces

27
2,927 2,342
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sandra Bullock The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed

28
1,723 1,463
Sissy Spacek is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sissy Spacek Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter, In the Bedroom

29
2,339 1,716
Judy Garland is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Judy Garland The Wizard of Oz, Judgment at Nuremberg, A Star Is Born

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30
1,950 1,485
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Amy Adams American Hustle, The Master, Doubt

31
1,293 1,119
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Frances McDormand Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country

32
2,601 2,380
Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Michelle Pfeiffer The Fabulous Baker Boys, Scarface, Dangerous Liaisons

33
2,497 2,268
Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Grace Kelly Rear Window, High Noon, Dial M for Murder

34
2,095 1,704
Nicole Kidman is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Nicole Kidman The Hours, Moulin Rouge!, Rabbit Hole

35
2,546 2,450
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Julia Roberts Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias

36
1,447 1,702
Jane Fonda is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Jane Fonda Klute, Coming Home, The China Syndrome

37
1,323 1,249
Annette Bening is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Annette Bening American Beauty, The Grifters, Being Julia

38
1,384 1,084
Diane Lane is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Diane Lane Unfaithful, Rumble Fish, A Walk on the Moon

39
1,357 1,361
Jennifer Connelly is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Jennifer Connelly A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream, House of Sand and Fog

40
1,978 1,425
Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Diane Keaton Annie Hall, Marvin's Room, Reds

41
662 324
Lucille Ball is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Lucille Ball All the Right Moves, Top Hat, Stage Door

42
1,774 1,653
Natalie Wood is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Natalie Wood West Side Story, The Searchers, Rebel Without a Cause

43
1,986 1,637
Olivia de Havilland is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Olivia de Havilland The Heiress, Gone with the Wind, To Each His Own

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44
1,678 1,211
Maureen O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Maureen O'Hara Miracle on 34th Street, The Quiet Man, How Green Was My Valley

45
1,849 1,538
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Anne Bancroft The Miracle Worker, The Graduate, The Turning Point

46
1,324 1,361
Rachel Weisz is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Rachel Weisz The Constant Gardener, The Deep Blue Sea, About a Boy

47
1,725 1,825
Rita Hayworth is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Rita Hayworth Gilda, Circus World, The Lady from Shanghai

48
1,429 1,167
Reese Witherspoon is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Reese Witherspoon American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election

49
1,684 1,469
Greta Garbo is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Greta Garbo Anna Christie, Ninotchka, Camille

50
1,227 1,029
Anjelica Huston is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Anjelica Huston The Grifters, Prizzi's Honor, Enemies: A Love Story