The 20 best actresses

by Thiele_ESC | created - 15 Mar 2012 | updated - 15 Mar 2012 | Public

1. 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 ...

2. Hilary Swank

Actress | Boys Don't Cry

Hilary was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Judith Kay (Clough), a secretary, and Stephen Michael Swank, who served in the National Guard and was also a traveling salesman. Her maternal grandmother, Frances Martha Dominguez, was of Mexican descent, and her other roots include German, English, and ...

3. Sandra Bullock

Producer | Miss Congeniality

Sandra Annette Bullock was born in Arlington, a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Her mother, Helga Bullock (née Helga Mathilde Meyer), was a German opera singer. Her father, John W. Bullock, was an American voice teacher, who was born in Alabama, of Irish, English, French, and German descent. ...

4. Maggie Smith

Actress | Gosford Park

One of the world's most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith in Essex. Her Scottish mother, Margaret (Hutton), worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith, was a teacher at Oxford University. Smith has been married twice: to actor ...

5. Judi Dench

Actress | Skyfall

Dame Judi Dench was born Judith Olivia Dench in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with the ...

6. Helen Mirren

Actress | RED

Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. ...

7. Helena Bonham Carter

Actress | Les Misérables

Helena Bonham Carter is an actress of great versatility, one of the UK's finest and most successful.

Bonham Carter was born May 26, 1966 in Golders Green, London, England, the youngest of three children of Elena (née Propper de Callejón), a psychotherapist, and Raymond Bonham Carter, a merchant ...

8. Eva Mendes

Actress | Hitch

Eva Mendes was born in Miami, Florida but raised in Los Angeles, California of Cuban-American heritage. In college, she began acting, studying underneath acting coach Ivana Chubbuck. This led to her desire to appear in feature films. Though taking many smaller roles in movies, she was little known ...

9. 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 20 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 ...

10. Carey Mulligan

Actress | Never Let Me Go

Carey Hannah Mulligan is a British actress. She was born May 28, 1985, in Westminster, London, England, to Nano (Booth), a university lecturer, and Stephen Mulligan, a hotel manager. Her mother is from Llandeilo, Wales, and Carey also has Irish and English ancestry.

Her first major appearance was ...

11. Miranda Otto

Actress | The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Miranda Otto was born on December 16, 1967 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. She is an actress, known for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and War of the Worlds (2005). She has been married to Peter O'Brien since January 1, 2003. ...

12. Liv Tyler

Actress | Armageddon

Liv Tyler was born in New York City, New York. She is the daughter of Steven Tyler of the band Aerosmith, and Bebe Buell, former model (and Playboy Playmate of the Month) and stalwart of the backstage rock scene of the 1970s. Liv grew up thinking that rock star Todd Rundgren was her father. But as ...

13. Martina Gedeck

Actress | Das Leben der Anderen

Martina Gedeck was born in Munich. After spending a year in the US, she studied drama at the prestigious Max-Reinhardt-Seminar at the Berlin University of the Arts. Martinas film career began while she was still at drama school. Her filmography covers practically all genres of film.

Gedeck has won a...

14. Charlotte Gainsbourg

Actress | Antichrist

Charlotte Gainsbourg was born in London, England in 1971. She is an Anglo-French actress and singer. The daughter of English actress Jane Birkin and French singer and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, she was raised in Paris. Gainsbourg made her motion picture debut in 1984. In 1986, Gainsbourg won a ...

15. Kirsten Dunst

Actress | Spider-Man

Kirsten Caroline Dunst is an American actress, who also holds German citizenship. She was born on April 30, 1982 in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, to parents Inez (née Rupprecht), who owned an art gallery, and Klaus Dunst, a medical services executive. She has a younger brother named Christian Dunst, ...

16. Jennifer Aniston

Actress | Friends

Jennifer Aniston was born in Sherman Oaks, California, to actors John Aniston and Nancy Dow. Her father is Greek, and her mother was of English, Irish, Scottish, and Italian descent. Jennifer spent a year of her childhood living in Greece with her family. Her family then relocated to New York City ...

17. Annie Girardot

Actress | La pianiste

Over the course of a five-decade career, she starred in nearly 150 films. She is a three-time César Award winner (1977, 1996, 2002), a two-time Molière Award winner, a BAFTA nominee, and a recipient of several international prizes including the Volpi Cup (Best actress) at the 1965 Venice Film ...

18. Isabelle Huppert

Actress | 8 femmes

Isabelle Huppert was born March 16, 1953, in Paris, France, but spent her childhood in Ville d'Avray. Encouraged by her mother Annick Huppert (who was a teacher of English), she followed the Conservatory of Versailles and won an acting prize for her work in Alfred de Musset's "Un caprice". She then...

19. Sandrine Bonnaire

Actress | Sans toit ni loi

Sandrine Bonnaire was born on May 31, 1967 in Gannat, Allier, France. She is an actress and director, known for Vagabond (1985), À nos amours (1983) and La Cérémonie (1995). She was previously married to Guillaume Laurant.

20. Julie Delpy

Actress | Trois couleurs: Blanc

Julie Delpy was born in Paris, France, in 1969 to Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet, both actors.

She was first featured in Jean-Luc Godard's Détective (1985) at the age of fourteen. She has starred in many American and European productions since then, including Disney's The Three Musketeers (...