Actresses 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
11,127 8,018
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
7,077 5,974
Cate Blanchett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator

3
5,462 3,617
Katharine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Thornapple added Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen

4
9,224 4,750
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
6,469 4,051
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
5,907 3,858
Helen Mirren is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station

7
5,885 3,966
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
5,474 3,393
Maggie Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
California Suite, Gosford Park, A Room with a View

9
5,682 3,598
Judi Dench is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Philomena, Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love

10
5,759 4,743
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
5,576 4,253
Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Cleopatra, National Velvet, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

12
5,607 3,719
Ingrid Bergman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

13
6,024 4,101
Kate Winslet is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Reader, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Titanic

14
5,030 3,136
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes

15
4,703 3,452
Emma Thompson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sense and Sensibility, Howards End, The Remains of the Day

16
4,583 3,618
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Dead Man Walking, The Client, Thelma & Louise

17
5,188 2,991
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
4,448 3,678
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs

19
4,008 2,878
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong

20
4,329 2,743
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump

21
4,592 3,292
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Still Alice, The End of the Affair, Boogie Nights

22
3,841 3,092
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Aliens, Gorillas in the Mist, Working Girl

23
4,439 3,006
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
2,731 1,961
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country

25
4,256 3,104
Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Fabulous Baker Boys, Scarface, Dangerous Liaisons

26
4,683 3,528
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias

27
5,197 3,375
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed

28
3,205 2,518
Shirley MacLaine is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, The Turning Point

29
3,189 2,780
Sophia Loren is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Two Women, Marriage Italian-Style, It Started in Naples

30
3,595 2,870
Lauren Bacall is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, The Mirror Has Two Faces

31
3,786 2,413
Judy Garland is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Wizard of Oz, Judgment at Nuremberg, A Star Is Born

32
3,948 2,647
Nicole Kidman is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Hours, Moulin Rouge!, Rabbit Hole

33
3,851 2,924
Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Rear Window, High Noon, Dial M for Murder

34
3,600 2,408
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
American Hustle, The Master, Doubt

35
2,772 2,249
Sissy Spacek is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter, In the Bedroom

36
3,265 2,558
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Mildred Pierce, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Four Walls

37
2,506 1,712
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Help, Traffic, Out of Sight

38
4,754 3,944
Charlize Theron is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Monster, North Country, Young Adult

39
2,342 2,111
Rachel Weisz is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Constant Gardener, The Deep Blue Sea, About a Boy

40
2,985 2,209
Olivia de Havilland is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Heiress, Gone with the Wind, To Each His Own

41
2,809 2,286
Natalie Wood is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
West Side Story, The Searchers, Rebel Without a Cause

42
2,212 2,045
Annette Bening is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
American Beauty, The Grifters, Being Julia

43
3,328 2,140
Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Annie Hall, Marvin's Room, Reds

44
2,471 1,967
Rachel McAdams is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers

45
4,036 3,178
Natalie Portman is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Black Swan, Leon: The Professional, Closer

46
2,333 2,782
Jane Fonda is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Klute, Coming Home, The China Syndrome

47
2,381 1,786
Diane Lane is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Unfaithful, Rumble Fish, A Walk on the Moon

48
2,624 2,359
Rita Hayworth is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Gilda, Circus World, The Lady from Shanghai

49
1,891 908
Lucille Ball is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added All the Right Moves, Top Hat, Stage Door

50
2,311 2,164
Jennifer Connelly is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream, House of Sand and Fog