Best Actresses...

Some of my favourite, in no particular order
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1.
Linda Darnell
Linda Darnell, one of five children of a postal clerk, grew up fast. At 11, she was modeling clothes, giving her age as 16. At 13, she was appearing on the stage with little theater groups. Her mother encouraged her to audition when Hollywood talent scouts came to Dallas. She went to California and when the studio found out how young she really was...
 
2.
Judy Davis
Actress, Barton Fink
Judy Davis was born April 23, 1955 in Perth, Western Australia. She was educated at Loreto Convent and the Western Institute of Technology, and graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 1977. She came to prominence as Sybylla Melvyn in the film adaptation of Miles Franklin's novel...
 
3.
Ingrid Bergman
Actress, Casablanca
Ingrid Bergman was one of the greatest actresses from Hollywood's lamented Golden Era. Her natural and unpretentious beauty and her immense acting talent made her one of the most celebrated figures in the history of American cinema. Bergman is also one of the most Oscar-awarded actresses, tied with Meryl Streep, both second only to Katharine Hepburn...
 
4.
Maggie Cheung
Maggie Cheung was born on September 20, 1964, in Hong Kong, and moved at the age of eight with her family to England. After finishing secondary school, she returned to Hong Kong, where she began modeling and appearing in commercials. In 1983 she participated in the Ms. Hong Kong pageant, winning first runner-up...
 
5.
Laura Dern
Actress, Jurassic Park
Laura Dern was born on February 10, 1967 in Los Angeles, the daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. Dern was exposed to movie sets and the movie industry from infancy, and obtained several bit parts as a child. Her parents divorced when Dern was two and Dern lost contact with her father for several years as a result...
 
6.
Rita Hayworth
Actress, Gilda
Margarita Carmen Cansino was born on October 17, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York, into a family of dancers. Her father, Eduardo was a dancer as was his father before him. He emigrated from Spain in 1913. Rita's mother met Eduardo in 1916 and were married the following year. Rita, herself, studied as a dancer in order to follow in her family's footsteps...
 
7.
Isabelle Huppert
Actress, Elle
Isabelle Huppert was born in 1953, in Paris, France, but spent her childhood in Ville d'Avray. Encouraged by her mother (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 studied at the Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique and followed an illustrious theatrical career...
 
8.
Marlene Dietrich
Marie Magdelene Dietrich von Losch (aka Marlene) was born in Berlin, Germany on December 27, 1901. Her father was an army officer who had served in the Franco-Prussian War. Because of his constant absences from the family due to his army duties, Marlene and the rest had to rely on themselves. When he died...
 
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10.
Giulietta Masina
Born in San Giorgio di Piano, Giulietta Masina spent part of her teenage years living with a widowed aunt in Rome, where she cultivated a passion for the theater and studied for a degree in Philosophy. She began her career on the radio with the program "Terzoglio" (1942), about the adventures of newlyweds Cico and Pallina from scripts written by Federico Fellini...
 
11.
Ellen Burstyn
Actress, Interstellar
Ellen Burstyn was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Correine Marie (Hamel) and John Austin Gillooly. She is of mostly Irish, German, and French-Canadian descent. Ellen worked a number of jobs before she became an actress. At 14, she was a short-order cook at a lunch counter. After graduating from Detroit's Cass Technical High School...
 
12.
Anna Karina
Born in Denmark, she came to Paris at 18. She met Coco Chanel and Pierre Cardin and started as a top model. She met Jean-Luc Godard about a cameo in Breathless, but she had to be naked and she refused to play in the movie. One year later, they got married and she became famous with the "Nouvelle vague" movies directed by him, Jacques Rivette or Agnès Varda...
 
13.
Irène Jacob
This beautiful, dark-haired Swiss actress made a hit with a supporting role in her first film, as the piano teacher in Louis Malle's "Au revoir, les enfants" (1987). Educated in London and Geneva, and a Paris resident since the age of 18, Jacob became a promising starlet with her Malle success and followed...
 
14.
Naomi Watts
Actress, King Kong
Naomi Ellen Watts was born on September 28, 1968 in Shoreham, England, to Myfanwy Edwards "Miv" (Roberts), an antiques dealer and costume/set designer, and Peter Watts (Peter Anthony Watts), the road manager to Pink Floyd. Her maternal grandfather was Welsh. Her father died when Naomi was seven and she began to follow her mother and her brother around England...
 
15.
Isabelle Adjani
Actress, Queen Margot
Isabelle Yasmine Adjani was born in Gennevilliers, Hauts-de-Seine, a suburb of Paris, to Emma Augusta "Gusti" (Schweinberger) and Mohammed Adjani. Her father was a Kabyle Algerian, from Iferhounène, and her mother was a Bavarian German. She grew up speaking German fluently. After winning a school recitation contest...
 
16.
Harriet Andersson
Actress, Dogville
Discovered at age 20 by celebrated director Ingmar Bergman, she became part of Bergman's regular stable of performers; in fact, he wrote Summer with Monika especially for her breakthrough. Extraordinary and versatile as an actress, her roles have ranged from the naive young wife in Sawdust and Tinsel to the mad visionary in Through a glass darkly (1962)...
 
17.
Julianne Moore
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 Burlington, New Jersey, has German, Irish, German-Jewish, and English ancestry...
 
18.
Jeanne Moreau
Actress, Jules and Jim
When people gave Louis Malle credit for making a star of Jeanne Moreau in Elevator to the Gallows immediately followed by The Lovers, he would point out that Moreau by that time had already been "recognized as the prime stage actress of her generation." She had made it to the Comédie Française in her 20s...
 
19.
Setsuko Hara
Actress, Tokyo Story
Setsuko Hara became one of Japan's best-loved stars over her 30-year film career. Her signature character type, variations on a daughter devoted to her parents and home, inspired the nickname that stayed with her until retirement: the Eternal Virgin. To some extent, reality mirrored her roles in these films...
 
20.
Isabella Rossellini
Actress, Blue Velvet
Isabella Rossellini, the Italian actress and model who has made her home in America since 1979 and holds dual Italian and American citizenship, was born cinema royalty when she made her debut on June 18, 1952 in Rome. She is the daughter of two legends, three-time Oscar-winning Swedish-born actress Ingrid Bergman and neo-realist master Italian director Roberto Rossellini...
 
21.
Emily Watson
Actress, Corpse Bride
Emily Watson was born and raised in London, the daughter of Katharine (Venables), an English teacher, and Richard Watson, an architect. After a self-described sheltered upbringing, Watson attended university for three years in Bristol, studying English literature. She applied to drama school and was rejected on her first attempt...
 
22.
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Actress, Melancholia
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 César Award for "Most Promising Actress"...
 
23.
Shelley Duvall
Actress, The Shining
Shelley Alexis Duvall was born in Houston, Texas, to Bobbie Ruth (Massengale) and Robert Richardson Duvall, a lawyer. During her childhood, Shelley's mother humorously gave Shelley the nickname "Manic Mouse", because she would often run around her house and tip over furniture. Shelley however was more than a mouse...
 
24.
Doona Bae
Actress, Cloud Atlas
Doona Bae was born in Seoul, South Korea. Her mother, Hwa-Young Kim, is a stage actress. Bae started out as a model. She soon moved to T.V. and movies, and it proved the right move. Her first movie was Ring. Barking dogs never bite (aka "Barking Dogs Never Bite") and Take Care of My Cat (A.K.A. "Take...
 
25.
Carina Lau
Actress, 2046
Carina Lau moved to Hong Kong with her family at the age of 14 and at the the time could not speak the local Cantonese and was often teased by other people the "Mainland Girl". She would eventually gave her best effort to learn the language and then was re-accepted at the TVB actors training program when she had improved her speaking ability...
 
26.
Thelma Ritter
Actress, Rear Window
Thelma Ritter appeared in high school plays and was trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In the 1940s she worked in radio. Her movie career was started with a bit part in the 1946 Miracle on 34th Street. In the movie she played a weary Xmas shopper. Her performance in the short scene was noticed by Darryl F. Zanuck who insisted her role be expanded...
 
27.
Gena Rowlands
Actress, The Notebook
Virginia Cathryn "Gena" Rowlands is an American film, stage, and television actress, whose career in the entertainment industry has spanned over six decades. A four-time Emmy and two-time Golden Globe winner, she is known for her collaborations with her late actor-director husband John Cassavetes in 10 films...
 
28.
Ruth Gordon
When Ruth Gordon convinced her father, a sea captain, to let her pursue acting she came to New York and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She acted in a few silents made at Fort Lee, New Jersey, in 1915. She made her Broadway debut in "Peter Pan" as Nibs the same year. The next 20 years she spent on stage...
 
29.
Kim Novak
Actress, Vertigo
Kim Novak was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 13, 1933 with the birth name of Marilyn Pauline Novak. She was the daughter of Joseph Novak, a former teacher turned transit clerk and his wife, Blanche Kral Novak, also a former teacher. Throughout elementary and high school, Kim did not get along well with teachers...
 
30.
Grace Kelly
Actress, Rear Window
Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to wealthy parents. She was the daughter of Margaret Katherine (Majer), a physical education instructor, and John Brendan Kelly, Sr., a three-time Olympic Gold winner for rowing. Her uncle was playwright George Kelly...
 
32.
Penélope Cruz
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 focus her energies on dance...
 
33.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a gifted actress, known for her versatile work in a variety of film and television projects. Possibly most known for her role as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, she has also starred in critically acclaimed independent films such as Smashed, for which she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination...
 
34.
Deborah Kara Unger
Actress, The Game
Deborah Kara Unger was the first Canadian accepted into the prestigious Australian National Institute of Dramatic Art. She made her feature film debut in Prisoners of the Sun, followed by roles in Christopher Crowe's Whispers in the Dark, Till There Was You, and Highlander: The Final Dimension. She acted in the award-winning television drama Bangkok Hilton with Nicole Kidman and Denholm Elliott...
 
35.
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Actress, Melancholia
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 César Award for "Most Promising Actress"...
 
36.
Rooney Mara
Actress and philanthropist Rooney Mara was born on April 17, 1985 in Bedford, New York. She made her screen debut in the slasher film Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, went on to have a supporting role in the independent coming-of-age drama Tanner Hall, and has since starred in the horror remake A Nightmare on Elm Street...
 
37.
Halle Berry
Halle Berry was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father, Jerome Jesse Berry, was African-American, and worked as a hospital attendant. Her mother, Judith Ann (Hawkins), who is Caucasian, has English and German ancestry, and is a retired psychiatric nurse. Halle has an older sister named Heidi Berry...
 
38.
Pam Grier
Actress, Jackie Brown
Pam Grier was born in Winston-Salem, NC, one of four children of Gwendolyn Sylvia (Samuels), a nurse, and Clarence Ransom Grier Jr., an Air Force mechanic. Pam has been a major African-American star from the early 1970s. Her career started in 1971, when Roger Corman of New World Pictures launched her with The Big Doll House...
 
40.
Amy Adams
Actress, Arrival
Amy Lou Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy, to American parents, Kathryn (Hicken) and Richard Kent Adams, a U.S. serviceman who was stationed at Caserma Ederle in Italy at the time. She was raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Castle Rock, Colorado, and has English, as well as smaller amounts of Danish, Swiss-German, and Norwegian, ancestry...
 
41.
Lisa Bonet
Lisa Bonet was born in San Francisco, California, to Arlene Joyce (Litman), a teacher, and Allen Bonet, an opera singer. She has lived most of her life in New York and Los Angeles, where she attended Reseda High School and Celluloid Actor's Studio. Her father was African-American and her mother was Ashkenazi Jewish (from a family from Poland and Russia)...