The Greatest Female Performances I've Ever Seen

In alphabetical order.
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1.
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...
“ Camille Claudel (1988) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
2.
Bibi Andersson
Actress, Persona
Her artistic dreams came early in life and were further supported by her older sister Gerd Andersson who became a ballet dancer at the Royal Opera and made her acting debut in 1951. Bibi, on the other side, had to make do with bit parts and commercials. She debuted in Dum-Bom, playing against Nils Poppe...
“ Scenes from a Marriage (1973) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
3.
Kathy Bates
Actress, Titanic
Multi-talented Kathleen Doyle Bates was born on June 28, 1948, and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the youngest of three girls born to Bertye Kathleen (Talbot), a homemaker, and Langdon Doyle Bates, a mechanical engineer. Her grandfather was author Finis L. Bates. Kathy has English, as well as Irish...
“ Dolores Claiborne (1995)
Misery (1990)
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
4.
Monica Bellucci
Actress, Irreversible
Monica Anna Maria Bellucci was born on September 30, 1964 in the Italian village of Città di Castello, Umbria, the only child of Brunella Briganti and Pasquale Bellucci. She originally pursued a career in the legal profession. While attending the University of Perugia, she modeled on the side to earn money for school...
“ Malèna (2000) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
5.
“ The Color Purple (1985) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
6.
Geraldine Chaplin
Actress, Chaplin
Geraldine Leigh Chaplin was born in Santa Monica, California, to Oona Chaplin (née O'Neill) and legendary entertainer Charles Chaplin (A.K.A. Charlie Chaplin). She is a granddaughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill and a great-granddaughter of stage actor James O'Neill. She attended the Royal Ballet Academy in London...
“ Remember My Name (1978) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
7.
Marion Cotillard
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 and her mother has Kabyle ancestry. Raised in Orléans...
“ La vie en rose (2007) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
8.
Rebecca De Mornay
Rebecca De Mornay was born 1959 as Rebecca Jane Pearch in Santa Rosa, California. She is the daughter of Julie (Eagar) and Wally George (born George Walter Pearch), a television and radio commentator. Her paternal grandmother was child actress Eugenia Clinchard. Her parents divorced when she was young...
“ The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
9.
Judi Dench
Actress, Skyfall
Judi Dench was born 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 Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre...
“ Notes on a Scandal (2006) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
10.
Faye Dunaway
Actress, Chinatown
Faye Dunaway was born on a farm in Bascom, Florida in 1941, the daughter of Grace April (Smith), a housewife, and John MacDowell Dunaway, Jr., an army officer. After high school she majored in education at the University of Florida, but switched to theatre arts and transferred to Boston University, earning her degree in 1962...
“ Network (1976)
Chinatown (1974) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
11.
Whoopi Goldberg
Self, The View
Whoopi Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in the Chelsea section of Manhattan on November 13, 1955. Her mother, Emma (Harris), was a teacher and a nurse, and her father, Robert James Johnson, Jr., was a clergyman. Whoopi's recent ancestors were from Georgia, Florida, and Virginia. She worked in a funeral parlor and as a bricklayer while taking small parts on Broadway...
“ The Color Purple (1985) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
12.
Marcia Gay Harden
Actress, Into the Wild
Marcia Gay Harden was born on August 14, 1959, in La Jolla, California, the third of five children. Her mother, Beverly (Bushfield), was a homemaker, and her father, Thad Harold Harden, was in the military. The family relocated often -- she first became interested in the theater when the family was living in Greece...
“ The Mist (2007) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
13.
Holly Hunter
Holly Hunter was born in Conyers, Georgia, to Opal Marguerite (Catledge), a homemaker, and Charles Edwin Hunter, a part-time sporting goods company representative and farmer with a 250 acre farm. She is the youngest of seven children. Her parents encouraged her talent at an early age, and her first acting part was as Helen Keller in a fifth-grade play...
“ The Piano (1993) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
14.
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...
“ La pianiste (2001) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
15.
Vivien Leigh
If a film were made of the life of Vivien Leigh, it would open in India just before World War I, where a successful British businessman could live like a prince. In the mountains above Calcutta, a little princess is born. Because of the outbreak of World War I, she is six years old the first time her parents take her to England...
“ A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
16.
Virna Lisi
Actress, Queen Margot
Italian goddess Virna Lisi was merely one of a plethora of European movie beauties who proved over the course of their long careers, that they were capable of more than just visual performances. Born in 1936 as Virna Pieralisi, she began her film career as a teenager in 1953. Cast more for her looks than talent at the onset...
“ La reine Margot (1994) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
17.
Melanie Lynskey
Actress, Togetherness
At 16 years of age, Melanie Lynskey captivated audiences with her explosive debut in Peter Jackson's Academy Award-nominated Heavenly Creatures, achieving worldwide acclaim and a Best Actress prize for her portrayal of an outcast teen whose relationship with her best friend (Kate Winslet) spirals dangerously out of control...
“ Heavenly Creatures (1994) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
18.
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...
“ La strada (1954)
Nights of Cabiria (1957) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
19.
Mary Stuart Masterson
Born in Los Angeles, Mary Stuart Masterson grew up in New York City. Her parents, Peter Masterson (dir.) and Carlin Glynn, (actress) are both known for their quality work in both theater and film. Mary Stuart Masterson's film, TV and theater career, includes roles in At Close Range, Some Kind of Wonderful...
“ Benny & Joon (1993)
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
20.
Marlee Matlin
Marlee Beth Matlin was in Morton Grove, Illinois, to Libby (Hammer) and Donald Matlin, an automobile dealer. She has two older brothers. Her family is of Russian Jewish and Polish Jewish descent. Marlee lost much of her hearing at the age of eighteen months. That did not stop her from acting in a children's...
“ Children of a Lesser God (1986) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
21.
Jodhi May
Jodhi was born in 1975. She was born and brought up in London, England, UK. She went to Wadham College, Oxford University 1994-1997. She studied and received a Masters in English. During her time at Wadham she read a lot of literature. She has been acting since she was twelve.
“ Although she was barely in The Last of the Mohicans, Jodhi was able to steal the show with her final scene. ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
22.
Judy Parfitt
Of regal bearing and imposing stance, British classical actress Judy Parfitt is the possessor of the chilliest blue orbs in all of London and has used them to her advantage over the years with her portrayals of haughty, bossy, scheming and deliciously malevolent patricians. Born in Yorkshire, she was...
“ Dolores Claiborne (1995) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
23.
Anne Parillaud
Anne Parillaud was born in Paris, France on May 6, 1960 and even though all her travels took her to many lands, is still a Paris resident. Anne studied ballet in school, and her first appearance was in the film Un amour de sable where she played "La jeune fille avec un petit chat" ("The girl with a kitten")...
“ Nikita (1990) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
24.
Vanessa Redgrave
On January 30, 1937, renowned theatre actor Michael Redgrave was performing in a production of Hamlet in London. During the curtain call, the show's lead, Laurence Olivier, announced to the audience: "tonight a great actress was born". This was in reference to his co-star's newborn daughter, Vanessa Redgrave...
“ If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
25.
Lolita Rodriguez
Actress, Paradise Inn
Lolita Rodriguez, Dolores Clark in real life, was born on January 29, 1935 in Urdaneta Pangasinan. In 1953, at the age of 18, she entered the movies. She was given walk-on roles. As an extra, she used to earn 5 pesos per appearance. Her first movie was Ating Pag-ibig, followed by Gorio at Tekla, El Indio, Cofradia, Kiko, Reyna Bandida, Sa Isang Sulyap mo Tita and Diwani...
“ Tinimbang ka ngunit kulang (1974) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
26.
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...
“ Opening Night (1977) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
27.
Romy Schneider
Actress, Sissi
Romy Schneider was born on 23 September 1938 in Vienna, Austria into a family of actors. Making her film debut at the age of 15, her breakthrough came two years later in the very popular trilogy Sissi. Her mother, supervising her daughter's career, immediately approved Romy's participation in Christine...
“ L'important c'est d'aimer (1975) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
28.
Sissy Spacek
Actress, Carrie
As a kid, Sissy Spacek climbed trees, rode horses, swam, and played in the woods. She was born Mary Elizabeth Spacek on December 25, 1949, in Quitman, Texas, to Virginia Frances (Spilman) and Edwin Arnold Spacek, Sr., a county agricultural agent. Her father's family was of Czech and German origin. Sissy attended Quitman High School and was homecoming queen...
“ Carrie (1976) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
29.
Meryl Streep
Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 19 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 Streep...
“ Sophie's Choice (1982) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
30.
Ingrid Thulin
Along with the legendary Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Eva Dahlbeck, and Harriet Andersson, icy blonde Ingrid Thulin became one of the preeminent Swedish femme stars of Ingmar Bergman's grim, emotional film masterpieces. Born in northern Sweden, she studied ballet as a child and attended the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm...
“ The Silence (1963)
Cries & Whispers (1972) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
31.
Meg Tilly
Actress, The Big Chill
Meg Tilly was set on being a dancer, and at 17 connected to the Connecticut Ballet Company and later Throne Dance Theatre. It was in this capacity that she had her screen debut in Alan Parker's Fame. Unfortunately, an injury to her back cut short her plans for a dance career, and a small...
“ Agnes of God (1985) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
32.
Liv Ullmann
Actress, Persona
Liv Ullmann's father was a Norwegian engineer who used to work abroad, so as a child she lived in Tokyo, Canada, New York and Oslo. In the mid-'50s she made her stage debut and in 1957 made her film debut. She really became successful, however, when she began to work for Swedish director Ingmar Bergman in such films as Persona...
“ Persona (1966) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
33.
“ Magnolia (1999) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
34.
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 from Shakespearean tragedy to modern-day mysticism and erotica...
“ The Reader (2008) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass
 
35.
Natalie Wood
Natalie Wood was born on July 20, 1938, in San Francisco, California, as Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko. Her parents, Maria Stepanovna (Zudilova) and Nikolai Stepanovich Zakharenko, were Russian-born émigrés, of Ukrainian and Russian descent, who spoke barely comprehensible English; they changed the family name to Gurdin after becoming US citizens...
“ Splendor in the Grass (1961)
This Property is Condemned (1966) ” - Varla_Kicked_Ass