actresses 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
229 89
Annie Wilkes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Annie Wilkes Misery - Kathy Bates - Best Actress (1990).

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2
259 83
Clarice Starling is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Clarice Starling The Silence of the Lambs - Jodie Foster - Best Actress (1991).

3
190 96
Aileen Wuornos is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Aileen Wuornos Monster - Charlize Theron - Best Actress (2003).

4
183 104
Marge Gunderson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Marge Gunderson Fargo - Frances McDormand - Best Actress (1996).

5
150 78
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
174 89
Scarlett O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Scarlett O'Hara Gone with the Wind - Vivien Leigh - Best Actress (1939).

7
87 35
Nurse Ratched is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Nurse Ratched One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

8
145 82
Minny Jackson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Minny Jackson The Help - Octavia Spencer - Best Supporting Actress (2011).

9
148 102
Nina Sayers is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Nina Sayers Black Swan - Natalie Portman - Best Actress (2010).

10
57 35
Loretta Lynn is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Loretta Lynn Coal Miner's Daughter

11
124 92
Katherine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Katherine Hepburn The Aviator - Cate Blanchett - Best Supporting Actress (2004).

12
129 112
Erin Brockovich is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Erin Brockovich Erin Brockovich - Julia Roberts - Best Actress (2000).

13
114 76
Queen Elizabeth II is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Queen Elizabeth II The Queen - Helen Mirren - Best Actress (2006).

14
120 67
Brandon Teena is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Brandon Teena Boys Don't Cry - Hilary Swank - Best Actress (1999).

15
79 69
Sister Helen Prejean is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Sister Helen Prejean Dead Man Walking - Susan Sarandon - Best Actress (1995).

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16
83 62
Helen Keller is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Helen Keller The Miracle Worker - Patty Duke - Best Supporting Actress (1962).

17
51 16
Mammy is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added Mammy Gone with the Wind - Hattie McDaniel-Best Supporting Actress (1939)

18
109 88
Mona Lisa Vito is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Mona Lisa Vito My Cousin Vinny - Marisa Tomei - Best Supporting Actress (1992).

19
77 72
Joanna Kramer is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Joanna Kramer Kramer vs. Kramer - Meryl Streep - Best Supporting Actress (1979).

20
58 22
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added Mary Poppins Mary Poppins - Julie Andrews-Best Actress (1964)

21
39 25
Aurora Greenway is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Aurora Greenway Terms of Endearment

22
48 21
Blanche DuBois is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added Blanche DuBois A Streetcar Named Desire, A Streetcar Named Desire, A Streetcar Named Desire - Vivien Leigh-Best Actress (1951)

23
78 62
Edith Piaf is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Edith Piaf La Vie En Rose - Marion Cotillard - Best Actress (2007).

24
102 72
Maggie Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Maggie Fitzgerald Million Dollar Baby - Hilary Swank - Best Actress (2004).

25
78 61
Patsey is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Patsey 12 Years a Slave - Lupita Nyong'o - Best Supporting Actress (2013).

26
87 59
Mary Lee Johnston is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Mary Lee Johnston Precious - Mo'Nique - Best Supporting Actress (2009).

27
41 18
Mrs. Robinson is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
-1455064860836 added Mrs. Robinson The Graduate

28
81 83
Margaret Thatcher is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Margaret Thatcher The Iron Lady - Meryl Streep - Best Actress (2011).

29
113 89
June Carter Cash is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
June Carter Cash Walk the Line - Reese Witherspoon - Best Actress (2005).

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30
48 29
Celie is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Celie The Color Purple

31
86 79
Oda Mae Brown is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Oda Mae Brown Ghost - Whoopi Goldberg - Best Supporting Actress (1990).

32
33 16
Margo Channing is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Paul Guimond added Margo Channing All About Eve

33
50 32
Ellen Ripley is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
EdWildeman added Ellen Ripley Alien, Aliens, Alien³

34
69 55
Norma Rae is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Norma Rae Norma Rae - Sally Field - Best Actress (1979).

35
69 69
Hanna Schmitz is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Hanna Schmitz The Reader - Kate Winslet - Best Actress (2008).

36
101 88
Leigh Anne Tuohy is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Leigh Anne Tuohy The Blind Side - Sandra Bullock - Best Actress (2009).

37
59 59
Ada McGrath is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Ada McGrath The Piano - Holly Hunter - Best Actress (1993).

38
49 28
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Linus added Martha Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Elizabeth Taylor - Best Actress (1967)

39
28 35
Margaret Schlegel is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Linus added Margaret Schlegel Howards End - Emma Thompson - Best Actress (1993)

40
45 27
Baby Jane Hudson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Baby Jane Hudson Baby Jane?, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

41
26 17
Annie Sullivan is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added Annie Sullivan The Miracle Worker - Anne Bancroft-Best Actress (1962)

42
71 69
Fantine is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Fantine Les Misérables, Les Misérables, Les Misérables - Anne Hathaway - Best Supporting Actress (2012).

43
51 60
Alicia Nash is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Alicia Nash A Beautiful Mind - Jennifer Connelly - Best Supporting Actress (2001).

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44
30 26
Ranker Video
Linus added Eleanor of Aquitaine The Lion in Winter - Katharine Hepburn - Best Actress (1969)

45
41 31
Bonnie Parker is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Bonnie Parker Bonnie & Clyde - Faye Dunaway Bonnie & clyde

46
54 58
Alice Howland is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Alice Howland Still Alice - Julianne Moore - Best Actress (2014).

47
21 18
Ma Joad is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added Ma Joad The Grapes of Wrath - Jane Darwell-Best Supporting Actress (1940)

48
24 23
Annie Hall is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added Annie Hall Annie Hall - Diane Keaton-Best Actress (1977)

49
18 19
Sugar Kane Kowalczyk is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
-1455064860836 added Sugar Kane Kowalczyk Some Like It Hot

50
31 29
Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked
Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil Dangerous Liaisons, Les liaisons dangereuses