Entertainment

The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked 

Ranker Film
Originally by
Updated November 21, 2019 29.2k votes 2.3k voters 24.1k views 92 items

List Rules Vote 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.
list ordered by
1
Clarice Starling is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
The Silence of the Lambs
Jodie Foster - Best Actress (1991).
2
Scarlett O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Gone with the Wind
Vivien Leigh - Best Actress (1939).
3
Aileen Wuornos is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Monster
Charlize Theron - Best Actress (2003).
4
Annie Wilkes is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Misery
Kathy Bates - Best Actress (1990).
5
Sophie Zawistowska is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Sophie Zawistowska Sophie's Choice
Meryl Streep - Best Actress (1982).
6
Marge Gunderson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Fargo
Frances McDormand - Best Actress (1996).
7
Nurse Ratched is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
8
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added Mary Poppins
Julie Andrews-Best Actress (1964)
9
Nina Sayers is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Black Swan
Natalie Portman - Best Actress (2010).
10
Queen Elizabeth II is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
The Queen
Helen Mirren - Best Actress (2006).
11
Minny Jackson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
The Help
Octavia Spencer - Best Supporting Actress (2011).
12
Katherine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
The Aviator
Cate Blanchett - Best Supporting Actress (2004).
13
Brandon Teena is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Boys Don't Cry
Hilary Swank - Best Actress (1999).
14
Helen Keller is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
The Miracle Worker
Patty Duke - Best Supporting Actress (1962).
15
Edith Piaf is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
La Vie En Rose
Marion Cotillard - Best Actress (2007).
16
Loretta Lynn is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Coal Miner's Daughter
17
Maggie Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Million Dollar Baby
Hilary Swank - Best Actress (2004).
18
Mammy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added Gone with the Wind

Hattie McDaniel-Best Supporting Actress (1939)

19
Blanche DuBois is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added A Streetcar Named Desire, A Streetcar Named Desire, A Streetcar Named Desire
Vivien Leigh-Best Actress (1951)
20
Mrs. Robinson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
-1455064860836 added The Graduate
21
Norma Rae is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Norma Rae Norma Rae
Sally Field - Best Actress (1979).
22
Ellen Ripley is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
EdWildeman added Alien, Aliens, Alien³
23
June Carter Cash is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Walk the Line
Reese Witherspoon - Best Actress (2005).
24
Mona Lisa Vito is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
My Cousin Vinny
Marisa Tomei - Best Supporting Actress (1992).
25
Erin Brockovich is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Erin Brockovich
Julia Roberts - Best Actress (2000).