Actresses The Best Actresses in Film History  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
990.5k votes 46.3k voters 636.9k views 915 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.
list ordered by

1
12,054 8,502
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
6,094 3,900
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
7,707 6,423
Cate Blanchett is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator

4
9,938 4,992
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
6,943 4,271
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
6,366 4,113
Helen Mirren is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station

7
6,169 3,827
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
5,908 3,597
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
6,302 4,182
Vivien Leigh is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Gone with the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ship of Fools

10
6,254 4,992
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
6,035 3,877
Ingrid Bergman is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

12
5,952 4,496
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
6,561 4,343
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
5,162 3,644
Emma Thompson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sense and Sensibility, Howards End, The Remains of the Day

15
5,460 3,373
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes

16
4,951 3,852
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Dead Man Walking, The Client, Thelma & Louise

17
5,632 3,171
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
4,851 3,889
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs

19
4,360 3,089
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong

20
4,647 2,949
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump

21
4,995 3,480
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
4,185 3,313
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Aliens, Gorillas in the Mist, Working Girl

23
4,954 3,185
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
3,056 2,119
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country

25
5,691 3,611
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed