Entertainment
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The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked

Updated November 21, 2019 33k votes 2.8k voters 30.6k views82 items

List RulesVote up the greatest performances that were awarded the Academy Award for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress

This list contains information about the best actress performances, ranked by your votes. Over the years there has been so many great performances that won best actress awards for the women who portrayed classic characters. Some of these best actress Oscar performances were for roles based on real people while others were based on fictional characters.

What are some of the best actress performances? Annie Wilkes from Misery made our list. Kathy Bates won a Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of this number one fan. Misery was based on the 1987 Stephen King book of the same name. Vivien Leigh's iconic portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara in the film Gone with the Wind also made our list. Leigh took home the Best Actress Oscar in 1939.

Several Best Supporting Actress performances also made this list. Octavia Spencer's performance of Minny Jackson in the film The Help, based on Kathryn Stockett's novel of the same name, earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2011. Other supporting actress roles that are featured on this list include Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator (Cate Blanchett) and Minnie Castevet (Ruth Gordon).

Which best actress performance is your favorite? Be sure to vote on this list to make sure the right role ends up in the top spot, and also share your thoughts in the comments section.
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  • 26
    250
    179
    12 Years a Slave
    Lupita Nyong'o - Best Supporting Actress (2013).
  • 27
    199
    140
    Bonnie & Clyde
    Faye Dunaway Bonnie & clyde
  • 28
    294
    232
    My Cousin Vinny
    Marisa Tomei - Best Supporting Actress (1992).
  • 29
    195
    129
    Linus addedWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
    Elizabeth Taylor - Best Actress (1967)
  • 30
    147
    73
    Shannon Leahy addedGone Girl
  • 31
    167
    113
    Tom Islava addedThe Miracle Worker
    Anne Bancroft-Best Actress (1962)
  • 32
    280
    200
    Million Dollar Baby
    Hilary Swank - Best Actress (2004).
  • 33
    247
    193
    Girl, Interrupted
    Angelina Jolie - Best Supporting Actress (1999).
  • 34
    284
    242
    Walk the Line
    Reese Witherspoon - Best Actress (2005).
  • 35
    162
    104
    West Side Story
    Rita Moreno - Best Supporting Actress (1961)
  • 36
    225
    177
    Les Misérables, Les Misérables
    Anne Hathaway - Best Supporting Actress (2012).
  • 37
    166
    117
    Linus addedThe Lion in Winter
    Katharine Hepburn - Best Actress (1969)
  • 38
    179
    147
    Tom Islava addedAnnie Hall
    Diane Keaton-Best Actress (1977)
  • 39
    188
    142
    Still Alice
    Julianne Moore - Best Actress (2014).
  • 40
    342
    320
    Erin Brockovich
    Julia Roberts - Best Actress (2000).
  • 41
    262
    230
    The Iron Lady
    Meryl Streep - Best Actress (2011).
  • 42
    213
    155
    Terms of Endearment
  • 43
    154
    129
    Tom Islava addedCabaret
    Liza Minnelli-Best Actress (1972)
  • 44
    236
    202
    Dead Man Walking
    Susan Sarandon - Best Actress (1995).
  • 45
    171
    115
    Cate Blanchett - Best Actress (2013).
  • 46
    160
    146
    Nicole Kidman - Best Actress (2002).
  • 47
    185
    179
    Catherine Zeta-Jones - Best Supporting Actress (2002).
  • 48
    154
    126
    Dangerous Liaisons, Les liaisons dangereuses
  • 49
    227
    214
    Kramer vs. Kramer
    Meryl Streep - Best Supporting Actress (1979).
  • 50
    128
    96
    PolarCow addedTitanic