Entertainment
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The Very Best Actress Performances, Ranked

Updated November 21, 2019 32.7k votes 2.8k voters 29.8k 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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  • 1
    719
    321

    Scarlett O'Hara

    Gone with the Wind
    Vivien Leigh - Best Actress (1939).
  • 2
    714
    325
    Charlize Theron - Best Actress (2003).
  • 3
    754
    349

    Clarice Starling

    The Silence of the Lambs
    Jodie Foster - Best Actress (1991).
  • 4
    657
    297

    Sophie Zawistowska

    Sophie's Choice
    Meryl Streep - Best Actress (1982).
  • 5
    717
    339
    Kathy Bates - Best Actress (1990).
  • 6
    453
    239

    Mary Poppins

    Mary Poppins
    Julie Andrews-Best Actress (1964)
  • 7
    492
    225

    Nurse Ratched

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • 8
    600
    279
    Frances McDormand - Best Actress (1996).
  • 9
    569
    336

    Nina Sayers

    Black Swan
    Natalie Portman - Best Actress (2010).
  • 10
    387
    225
    Helen Mirren - Best Actress (2006).
  • 11
    325
    181

    Mammy

    Gone with the Wind

    Hattie McDaniel-Best Supporting Actress (1939)

  • 12
    402
    257
    Cate Blanchett - Best Supporting Actress (2004).
  • 13
    282
    171

    Ellen Ripley

    Alien, Aliens
  • 14
    393
    246
    Octavia Spencer - Best Supporting Actress (2011).
  • 15
    333
    210

    Edith Piaf

    La Vie En Rose
    Marion Cotillard - Best Actress (2007).
  • 16
    362
    145

    Blanche DuBois

    A Streetcar Named Desire, A Streetcar Named Desire
    Vivien Leigh-Best Actress (1951)
  • 17
    278
    188

    Helen Keller

    The Miracle Worker
    Patty Duke - Best Supporting Actress (1962).
  • 18
    207
    95

    Mildred Hayes

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Frances McDormand - Best Actress (2017)

  • 19
    255
    163

    Norma Rae

    Norma Rae
    Sally Field - Best Actress (1979).
  • 20
    233
    151

    Celie

    The Color Purple
  • 21
    266
    185

    Loretta Lynn

    Coal Miner's Daughter
  • 22
    260
    155

    Mrs. Robinson

    The Graduate
  • 23
    336
    208

    Brandon Teena

    Boys Don't Cry
    Hilary Swank - Best Actress (1999).
  • 24
    254
    137

    Baby Jane Hudson

    Baby Jane?, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
  • 25
    124
    66

    Queen Anne

    The Favourite

    Olivia Colman - Best Actress (2018)