Actresses The Best Actresses in Film History  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
846.8k votes 40.6k voters 575.5k 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
10,165 7,524
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
6,395 5,467
Cate Blanchett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator

3
4,731 3,334
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
8,417 4,490
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
5,972 3,812
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
5,510 3,683
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
5,386 3,607
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
5,182 3,348
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
4,949 3,184
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
5,224 4,462
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
5,149 3,983
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
5,139 3,537
Ingrid Bergman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Ingrid Bergman Casablanca, Notorious, Cinema Paradiso

13
5,494 3,835
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
4,555 2,885
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
4,236 3,224
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
4,154 3,358
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
4,704 2,778
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
4,079 3,436
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
3,629 2,642
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Jessica Lange Blue Sky, Tootsie, King Kong

20
3,936 2,517
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
3,467 2,851
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
4,167 3,059
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
3,916 2,791
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
2,918 2,328
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
2,915 2,594
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
4,657 3,115
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Sandra Bullock The Blind Side, Gravity, Speed

27
4,166 3,256
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
2,365 1,768
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
3,875 2,915
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
3,285 2,721
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
3,442 2,269
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
3,202 2,186
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Amy Adams American Hustle, The Master, Doubt

33
3,527 2,422
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
3,523 2,781
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
2,527 2,079
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
3,059 2,381
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
2,170 1,523
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
3,049 1,967
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
2,591 2,130
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
2,132 2,550
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
4,325 3,779
Charlize Theron is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Charlize Theron Monster, North Country, Young Adult

42
2,742 2,093
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
2,106 1,932
Rachel Weisz is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Rachel Weisz The Constant Gardener, The Deep Blue Sea, About a Boy

44
2,176 1,775
Rachel McAdams is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Rachel McAdams Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers

45
2,002 1,879
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
2,175 1,629
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
2,117 1,988
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
1,617 770
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
2,403 2,249
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
1,929 1,876
Faye Dunaway is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Actresses in Film History
Faye Dunaway Network, Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown