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Actresses The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time  

christoentes
24.9k votes 1.8k voters 13.2k views

These are some of the greatest performances by actresses of all time. They were brave, perfectly cast, and simply fantastic. The roles span decades and represent historical figures, such as Joan of Arc and Edith Piaf. Many of these top film performances showed women on screen in a way that had never been seen before, such as Penelope Cruz in Volver and Bette Davis in All About Eve.

The list includes breakout performances, such as Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone, and experienced actresses such as Emanuelle Riva, who already had a lifetime of work behind her when she did Amour.

Some of these actress performances were in acclaimed films and ended up being Oscar-winning roles, but they don't necessarily have to be to be included. As longs as the performance was incredible and one of the best Hollywood has seen, you'll find it listed here. Audrey Hepburn, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, the list goes on...

Which do you think are the best performances of all time turned in by female actresses? Cast your votes below!
1
348 163
Katharine Hepburn- Bringing Up... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
zoe-krainik added Katharine Hepburn- Bringing Up Baby
2
179 74
Vivien Leigh - Gone With the W... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
MeganAnderson added Vivien Leigh - Gone With the Wind
3
323 207
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
punksnotdead added Tootsie, Big Fish, Cape Fear
4
563 432
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Ri Wa added What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Grand Hotel, Mildred Pierce
5
525 439
Audrey Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Breakfast at Tiffany's, My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday
Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1962
6
318 246
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, Contact
Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1989
7
303 232
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Blazing Saddles, The Graduate, Antz
Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1968
8
196 125
Lupita Nyong'o is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
aria2000 added 12 Years a Slave, Non-Stop, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
9
127 56
Liza Minnelli is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
maya365 added Cabaret, Arthur, The Muppets Take Manhattan
10
220 155
Sissy Spacek is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Carrie, JFK, The Help
Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1977
11
194 135
Judy Garland - a Star Is Born is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
RobLein added Judy Garland - a Star Is Born
12
172 112
Claudette Colbert is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
RobLein added It Happened One Night, The Palm Beach Story, It's a Wonderful World
13
187 130
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Fargo, Almost Famous, Raising Arizona
Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1997
14
186 142
Julie Andrews is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
RobLein added The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Shrek 2
15
162 120
Holly Hunter is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
The Incredibles, Raising Arizona, O Brother
Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1994
16
261 236
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
All About Eve, P.S. I Love You, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1951
17
177 143
Gene Tierney is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
punksnotdead added Laura, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Night and the City
18
145 106
Claudia Cardinale is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
punksnotdead added Once Upon a Time in the West, The Pink Panther, 8½
19
205 176
Jennifer Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, X-Men: First Class
Nominated, Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2011
20
154 117
Emma Thompson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Brave
Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1994
21
183 151
Reese Witherspoon is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election
22
172 140
Helen Mirren is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
Monsters University, The Prince of Egypt, Excalibur
Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2007
23
200 178
Halle Berry is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men 2
Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2002
24
148 117
Kristin Scott Thomas is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
The English Patient, Mission: Impossible, Four Weddings and a Funeral
Nominated, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1997
25
153 126
Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time
The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Annie Hall
Won, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 1978