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
11,412 8,156
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
7,246 6,120
Cate Blanchett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator

3
5,626 3,687
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
9,435 4,813
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
6,586 4,118
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
6,025 3,928
Helen Mirren is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Queen, Gosford Park, The Last Station

7
5,815 3,659
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
5,987 4,024
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
5,573 3,456
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
5,885 4,807
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
5,666 4,322
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
5,731 3,753
Ingrid Bergman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

13
6,160 4,174
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
5,138 3,207
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Misery, About Schmidt, Fried Green Tomatoes

15
4,838 3,511
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
4,679 3,681
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Dead Man Walking, The Client, Thelma & Louise

17
5,310 3,039
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
4,543 3,734
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs

19
4,097 2,935
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong

20
4,407 2,803
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Steel Magnolias, Norma Rae, Forrest Gump

21
4,711 3,343
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
3,931 3,170
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Aliens, Gorillas in the Mist, Working Girl

23
4,610 3,059
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
5,347 3,437
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed

25
2,820 2,002
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Fargo, Mississippi Burning, North Country

26
4,348 3,154
Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Fabulous Baker Boys, Scarface, Dangerous Liaisons

27
4,818 3,591
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias

28
3,277 2,826
Sophia Loren is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Two Women, Marriage Italian-Style, It Started in Naples

29
3,263 2,565
Shirley MacLaine is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, The Turning Point

30
3,658 2,905
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
3,937 2,950
Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Rear Window, High Noon, Dial M for Murder

32
3,870 2,441
Judy Garland is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Wizard of Oz, Judgment at Nuremberg, A Star Is Born

33
3,709 2,454
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
American Hustle, The Master, Doubt

34
4,052 2,695
Nicole Kidman is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Hours, Moulin Rouge!, Rabbit Hole

35
2,827 2,288
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
3,313 2,604
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
2,577 1,748
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Help, Traffic, Out of Sight

38
4,863 3,971
Charlize Theron is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Monster, North Country, Young Adult

39
3,037 2,235
Olivia de Havilland is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Heiress, Gone with the Wind, To Each His Own

40
2,404 2,139
Rachel Weisz is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Constant Gardener, The Deep Blue Sea, About a Boy

41
2,862 2,310
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
4,141 3,213
Natalie Portman is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Black Swan, Leon: The Professional, Closer

43
2,374 2,832
Jane Fonda is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Klute, Coming Home, The China Syndrome

44
2,255 2,078
Annette Bening is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
American Beauty, The Grifters, Being Julia

45
2,545 2,001
Rachel McAdams is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers

46
3,400 2,176
Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Annie Hall, Marvin's Room, Reds

47
2,365 2,198
Jennifer Connelly is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream, House of Sand and Fog

48
2,817 2,091
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
The Miracle Worker, The Graduate, The Turning Point

49
2,428 1,811
Diane Lane is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Unfaithful, Rumble Fish, A Walk on the Moon

50
2,672 2,380
Rita Hayworth is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Gilda, Circus World, The Lady from Shanghai