Actresses The Best Actresses in Film History  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
847.7k votes 40.6k voters 576.6k views 805 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.

1
10,178 7,535
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

2
6,408 5,470
Cate Blanchett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator

3
4,741 3,340
Katharine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Thornapple added katherine hepburn Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen

4
8,432 4,493
Audrey Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's, My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday

5
5,981 3,816
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
5,516 3,688
Vivien Leigh is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Vivien Leigh Gone with the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ship of Fools

7
5,397 3,612
Helen Mirren is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Helen Mirren The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station

8
5,190 3,353
Judi Dench is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Judi Dench Philomena, Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love

9
4,957 3,189
Maggie Smith is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Maggie Smith California Suite, Gosford Park, A Room with a View

10
5,231 4,466
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Jodie Foster The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused

11
5,154 3,988
Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra, National Velvet, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

12
5,146 3,541
Ingrid Bergman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Ingrid Bergman Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

13
5,509 3,838
Kate Winslet is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Kate Winslet The Reader, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Titanic

14
4,568 2,887
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Kathy Bates Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes

The Most Rewatchable Movies

15
4,245 3,230
Emma Thompson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Emma Thompson Sense and Sensibility, Howards End, The Remains of the Day

16
4,162 3,365
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Susan Sarandon Dead Man Walking, The Client, Thelma & Louise

17
4,712 2,783
Julie Andrews is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Julie Andrews The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie

18
4,086 3,442
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Glenn Close Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs

19
3,634 2,650
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Jessica Lange Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong

20
3,942 2,525
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sally Field Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump

21
3,477 2,856
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

The Best Actresses Who Won Oscars and Globes for the Same Role

22
4,172 3,065
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Julianne Moore Still Alice, The End of the Affair, Boogie Nights

23
3,926 2,798
Helena Bonham Carter is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Helena Bonham Carter Fight Club, The King's Speech, The Wings of the Dove

24
2,924 2,334
Shirley MacLaine is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Shirley MacLaine Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, The Turning Point

25
2,919 2,601
Sophia Loren is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sophia Loren Two Women, Marriage Italian-Style, It Started in Naples

26
4,669 3,120
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sandra Bullock The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed

27
4,176 3,262
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Julia Roberts Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias

28
2,371 1,774
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Frances McDormand Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country

People We Wish Were Still Alive

29
3,880 2,921
Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Michelle Pfeiffer The Fabulous Baker Boys, Scarface, Dangerous Liaisons

30
3,290 2,725
Lauren Bacall is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Lauren Bacall The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, The Mirror Has Two Faces

31
3,449 2,273
Judy Garland is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Judy Garland The Wizard of Oz, Judgment at Nuremberg, A Star Is Born

32
3,208 2,192
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Amy Adams American Hustle, The Master, Doubt

33
3,536 2,426
Nicole Kidman is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Nicole Kidman The Hours, Moulin Rouge!, Rabbit Hole

34
3,526 2,786
Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Grace Kelly Rear Window, High Noon, Dial M for Murder

35
2,532 2,082
Sissy Spacek is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sissy Spacek Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter, In the Bedroom

The Most Entertaining Awful Shark Horror Movies

36
3,061 2,385
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Joan Crawford Mildred Pierce, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Four Walls

37
2,176 1,526
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Viola Davis The Help, Traffic, Out of Sight

38
3,056 1,970
Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Diane Keaton Annie Hall, Marvin's Room, Reds

39
2,595 2,133
Natalie Wood is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Natalie Wood West Side Story, The Searchers, Rebel Without a Cause

40
2,134 2,555
Jane Fonda is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Jane Fonda Klute, Coming Home, The China Syndrome

41
4,331 3,782
Charlize Theron is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Charlize Theron Monster, North Country, Young Adult

42
2,744 2,096
Olivia de Havilland is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Olivia de Havilland The Heiress, Gone with the Wind, To Each His Own

The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World

43
2,180 1,779
Rachel McAdams is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Rachel McAdams Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers

44
2,108 1,937
Rachel Weisz is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Rachel Weisz The Constant Gardener, The Deep Blue Sea, About a Boy

45
2,005 1,883
Annette Bening is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Annette Bening American Beauty, The Grifters, Being Julia

46
2,180 1,632
Diane Lane is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Diane Lane Unfaithful, Rumble Fish, A Walk on the Moon

47
2,119 1,992
Jennifer Connelly is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Jennifer Connelly A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream, House of Sand and Fog

48
1,622 774
Lucille Ball is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
FranciscodeSouza added Lucille Ball All the Right Moves, Top Hat, Stage Door

49
2,406 2,253
Rita Hayworth is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Rita Hayworth Gilda, Circus World, The Lady from Shanghai

50
1,931 1,881
Faye Dunaway is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Faye Dunaway Network, Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown