The 20 Best Female Performances of the Past 20 Years.

by odeagueros-1 | created - 13 Oct 2010 | updated - 13 Oct 2010 | Public

1. Gwyneth Paltrow

Actress | Shakespeare in Love

A tall, wafer thin, delicate beauty, Gwyneth Kate Paltrow was born in Los Angeles, the daughter of noted producer and director Bruce Paltrow and Tony Award-winning actress Blythe Danner. Her father was from a Jewish family, while her mother is of mostly German descent. When Gwyneth was eleven, the ...

Shakespeare in Love

2. Marion Cotillard

Actress | La môme

Academy Award-winning actress Marion Cotillard was born on September 30, 1975 in Paris. Cotillard is the daughter of Jean-Claude Cotillard, an actor, playwright and director, and Niseema Theillaud, an actress and drama teacher. Her father's family is Breton.

Raised in Orléans, France, she made her ...

La Vie En Rose

3. Jennifer Connelly

Actress | A Beautiful Mind

Jennifer Connelly was born in the Catskill Mountains, New York, to Ilene (Schuman), a dealer of antiques, and Gerard Connelly, a clothing manufacturer. Her father had Irish and Norwegian ancestry, and her mother was from a Jewish immigrant family. Jennifer grew up in Brooklyn Heights, just across ...

Requiem For A Dream

4. Kristin Scott Thomas

Actress | The English Patient

The acclaimed Cornish actress Dame Kristin Scott Thomas was born in Redruth, Cornwall, to Deborah (Hurlbatt) and Lieutenant Commander Simon Scott Thomas. Her father was a pilot for the British Royal Navy and died in a flying accident in 1964. Her stepfather, Lt. Cdr Simon Idiens, was also a pilot, ...

The English Patient

5. Cate Blanchett

Actress | Carol

Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to June (Gamble), an Australian teacher and property developer, and Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., an American advertising executive, originally from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was ten ...

Elizabeth I, Elizabeth II

6. Kate Winslet

Actress | Titanic

Ask Kate Winslet what she likes about any of her characters, and the word "ballsy" is bound to pop up at least once. The British actress has made a point of eschewing straightforward pretty-girl parts in favor of more devilish damsels; as a result, she's built an eclectic resume that runs the gamut...

Revolutionary Road

7. Natalie Portman

Actress | Black Swan

Natalie Portman is the first person born in the 1980s to have won the Academy Award for Best Actress (for Black Swan (2010)).

Natalie was born Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, Israel. She is the only child of Avner Hershlag, an Israeli-born doctor, and Shelley Stevens, an ...

Closer

8. Julianne Moore

Actress | The Hours

Julianne Moore was born Julie Anne Smith in Fort Bragg, North Carolina on December 3, 1960, the daughter of Anne (Love), a social worker, and Peter Moore Smith, a paratrooper, colonel, and later military judge. Her mother moved to the U.S. in 1951, from Greenock, Scotland. Her father, from ...

Far From Heaven

9. Michelle Williams

Actress | Blue Valentine

A small-town girl born and raised in rural Kalispell, Montana, Michelle Ingrid Williams is the daughter of Carla Ingrid (Swenson), a homemaker, and Larry Richard Williams, a commodity trader and author. Her ancestry is Norwegian, as well as German, British Isles, and other Scandinavian. She was ...

Brokeback Mountain

10. Meryl Streep

Actress | Out of Africa

Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 21 times, and has won it three times. Meryl was born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a commercial artist, and Harry William ...

The Hours

11. Catalina Sandino Moreno

Actress | Maria Full of Grace

Catalina Sandino Moreno was born on April 19, 1981 in Bogotá, Colombia. She is an actress and producer, known for Maria Full of Grace (2004), Che: Part One (2008) and Fast Food Nation (2006). She has been married to David Elwell since April 15, 2006. They have one child.

Maria Full of Grace

12. Catherine Keener

Actress | Capote

Catherine Keener is an American actress, Oscar-nominated for her roles in the independent films Being John Malkovich (1999) and Capote (2005). Acclaimed in her community for her quirky roles in independent film and mainstream such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Keener got her start as a casting ...

An American Crime

13. Frances McDormand

Actress | Fargo

Frances Louise McDormand was born on June 23, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois. She was adopted by Canadian-born parents, Noreen Eloise (Nickleson), a nurse from Ontario, and The Rev. Vernon Weir McDormand, a Disciples of Christ minister from Nova Scotia, who raised her in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. She ...

Fargo

14. Penélope Cruz

Actress | Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Known outside her native country as the "Spanish enchantress", Penélope Cruz Sánchez was born in Madrid to Eduardo Cruz, a retailer, and Encarna Sánchez, a hairdresser. As a toddler, she was already a compulsive performer, re-enacting TV commercials for her family's amusement, but she decided to ...

Volver

15. Angelina Jolie

Actress | Maleficent

Angelina Jolie is an Academy Award-winning actress who became popular after playing the title role in the "Lara Croft" blockbuster movies, as well as Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Wanted (2008), Salt (2010) and Maleficent (2014). Off-screen, Jolie has become prominently involved in international ...

Girl, Interrupted

16. Samantha Morton

Actress | Minority Report

Samantha Morton has established herself as one of the finest actors of her generation, winning Oscar nominations for her turns in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown (1999) and Jim Sheridan's In America (2002). She has the talent to become one of the major performers in the cinema of this young century.

...

In America

17. Salma Hayek

Actress | Frida

One of Hollywood's most dazzling leading actresses, Salma Hayek was born on September 2, 1966, in the oil boomtown of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Hayek has freely admitted that she and her brother, Sami, were spoiled rotten by her well-to-do businessman father, Sami Hayek Dominguez, and her ...

Frida

18. Diane Lane

Actress | Unfaithful

Diane Lane was born on January 22, 1965, in New York. She is the daughter of acting coach Burton Eugene "Burt" Lane and nightclub singer/centerfold Colleen Farrington. Her parents' families were both from the state of Georgia. Diane was acting from a very young age and made her stage debut at the ...

Unfaithful

19. Tilda Swinton

Actress | We Need to Talk About Kevin

The iconoclastic gifts of the visually striking and fiercely talented actress Tilda Swinton have been appreciated by a more international audience of late.

She was born Katherine Mathilda Swinton on November 5, 1960, in London, England. Her mother, Judith Balfour, Lady Swinton (née Killen), was ...

Michael Clayton

20. Laura Linney

Actress | The Big C

Laura Leggett Linney was born in New York City on February 5, 1964, into a theatre family. Her father was prominent playwright Romulus Linney, whose own great-grandfather was a congressman from North Carolina. Her mother, Miriam Anderson (Leggett), is a nurse. Although she did not live in her ...

The Savages