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
11,699 8,294
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
5,829 3,778
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
7,450 6,259
Cate Blanchett is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator

4
9,661 4,892
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
6,736 4,183
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
6,179 4,005
Helen Mirren is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station

7
5,971 3,728
Judi Dench is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Philomena, Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love

8
6,119 4,094
Vivien Leigh is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Gone with the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ship of Fools

9
5,711 3,519
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
6,035 4,881
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
5,842 3,804
Ingrid Bergman is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

12
5,783 4,381
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
6,340 4,229
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
5,270 3,274
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes

15
4,978 3,560
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
4,799 3,752
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Dead Man Walking, The Client, Thelma & Louise

17
5,444 3,093
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
4,662 3,797
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs

19
4,198 2,992
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong

20
4,501 2,866
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump

21
4,824 3,397
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
4,034 3,226
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Aliens, Gorillas in the Mist, Working Girl

23
4,771 3,106
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
2,925 2,042
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country

25
5,501 3,513
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed