Oscars The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked  

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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
453 175
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
387 203
Annie Wilkes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Misery - Kathy Bates - Best Actress (1990).

3
364 147
Scarlett O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Gone with the Wind - Vivien Leigh - Best Actress (1939).

4
360 169
Aileen Wuornos is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Monster - Charlize Theron - Best Actress (2003).

5
307 148
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
352 180
Marge Gunderson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Fargo - Frances McDormand - Best Actress (1996).

7
211 110
Nurse Ratched is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

8
143 102
Loretta Lynn is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Coal Miner's Daughter

9
146 62
Blanche DuBois is listed (or ranked) 9 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)

10
219 166
Katherine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
The Aviator - Cate Blanchett - Best Supporting Actress (2004).

11
276 197
Nina Sayers is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Black Swan - Natalie Portman - Best Actress (2010).

12
182 86
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added Mary Poppins - Julie Andrews-Best Actress (1964)

13
211 135
Queen Elizabeth II is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
The Queen - Helen Mirren - Best Actress (2006).

14
150 64
Mammy is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added Gone with the Wind -

Hattie McDaniel-Best Supporting Actress (1939)

15
243 158
Minny Jackson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
The Help - Octavia Spencer - Best Supporting Actress (2011).

16
228 217
Erin Brockovich is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Erin Brockovich - Julia Roberts - Best Actress (2000).

17
155 113
Helen Keller is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
The Miracle Worker - Patty Duke - Best Supporting Actress (1962).

18
114 62
Mrs. Robinson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
-1455064860836 added The Graduate

19
176 122
Maggie Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Million Dollar Baby - Hilary Swank - Best Actress (2004).

20
115 82
Aurora Greenway is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Aurora Greenway Terms of Endearment

21
158 111
Edith Piaf is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
La Vie En Rose - Marion Cotillard - Best Actress (2007).

22
139 129
Sister Helen Prejean is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Dead Man Walking - Susan Sarandon - Best Actress (1995).

23
143 100
Norma Rae is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Norma Rae - Sally Field - Best Actress (1979).

24
180 157
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
142 147
Joanna Kramer is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Kramer vs. Kramer - Meryl Streep - Best Supporting Actress (1979).