Entertainment The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked  

Ranker Film
Originally by
22.6k votes 1.7k voters 16.3k views 103 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
450 235
Annie Wilkes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Misery
Kathy Bates - Best Actress (1990).
2
514 212
Clarice Starling is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
The Silence of the Lambs
Jodie Foster - Best Actress (1991).
3
435 197
Aileen Wuornos is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Monster
Charlize Theron - Best Actress (2003).
4
422 184
Scarlett O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Gone with the Wind
Vivien Leigh - Best Actress (1939).
5
359 179
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
399 203
Marge Gunderson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Fargo
Frances McDormand - Best Actress (1996).
7
251 134
Nurse Ratched is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
8
227 112
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
326 229
Nina Sayers is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Black Swan
Natalie Portman - Best Actress (2010).
10
250 190
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
173 120
Loretta Lynn is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Coal Miner's Daughter
12
187 80
Blanche DuBois is listed (or ranked) 12 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)
13
240 158
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
178 89
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
279 181
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
257 248
Erin Brockovich is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Erin Brockovich
Julia Roberts - Best Actress (2000).
17
180 129
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
230 142
Brandon Teena is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Boys Don't Cry
Hilary Swank - Best Actress (1999).
19
177 139
Edith Piaf is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
La Vie En Rose
Marion Cotillard - Best Actress (2007).
20
135 83
Mrs. Robinson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
-1455064860836 added The Graduate
21
196 147
Maggie Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Million Dollar Baby
Hilary Swank - Best Actress (2004).
22
158 154
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
168 124
Norma Rae is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Norma Rae
Sally Field - Best Actress (1979).
24
131 104
Aurora Greenway is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Aurora Greenway Terms of Endearment
25
139 69
Margo Channing is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Paul Guimond added All About Eve