Best Actresses

In my opinion, these are 30 of the best actresses of all time. (Then there are some honorable mentions after that).
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1.
Meryl Streep
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 Streep...
 
2.
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...
 
3.
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...
“ Favorite films chronologically: The Devils; Playing For Time (TV); Mission: Impossible; Deep Impact; Girl, Iterrupted; The Gathering Storm (TV); and Atonement. ” - TimKaye
 
4.
Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman is the first person born in the 1980s to have won the Academy Award for Best Actress (for Black Swan). 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 American-born artist (from Cincinnati...
 
5.
Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, a city in the greater Johannesburg area, in South Africa, the only child of Gerda Theron (née Gerda Jacoba Aletta Maritz) and Charles Jacobus Theron. She was raised on a farm outside the city. Theron is of Afrikaner (Dutch, with some French Huguenot and German) descent, and Afrikaner military figure Danie Theron was her great-great-uncle...
 
6.
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...
 
7.
Kirsten Dunst
Actress, Spider-Man 2
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, born in 1987...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles; Small Soldiers; The Virgin Suicides; Spider-Man; Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind; How To Lose Friends & Alienate People; and All Good Things.
There's also her contribution to season two of the excellent TV series Fargo. ” - TimKaye
 
8.
Helen Mirren
Actress, The Queen
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. Mirren attended St...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Calendar Girls; The Queen; State Of Play; The Debt; and Hitchcock. ” - TimKaye
 
9.
Cate Blanchett
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 years old...
 
10.
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...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Misery; Fried Green Tomatoes; Dolores Claiborne; Titanic; Primary Colors; Six Feet Under (TV series); The Blind Side; The Office (TV series), and Feud: Bette & Joan (TV series). ” - TimKaye
 
11.
Amanda Peet
Actress, 2012
Amanda Peet was born and raised in New York City. She is the daughter of Penny (Levy), a social worker, and Charles Peet, a lawyer, and has an older sister. Her father was of mostly English and German ancestry, and her mother was from a Jewish family (from Germany, Russia, and Hungary). Peet's great-grandfathers were politician Samuel Levy and showbiz impresario S.L. Rothafel...
“ Favorite films chronologically: She's The One; The Whole Nine Yards; Identity; Syriana; and Identity Thief. ” - TimKaye
 
12.
Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon was born Susan Abigail Tomalin in New York City, New York, to Lenora Marie (Criscione) and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, a television producer and advertising executive. She is of Italian (mother) and English, Irish, Welsh, and German (father) descent. Soon after the 1968 Democratic convention...
“ Favorite films chronologically: The Rocky Horror Picture Show; The Hunger; The Witches Of Eastwick; Bull Durham; Thelma & Louise; The Client; Twilight; Leaves Of Grass and The Company You Keep.
She's also fantastic in her portrayal of Bette Davis for the TV-series Feud: Bette & Joan ” - TimKaye
 
13.
Jodie Foster
Alicia Christian Foster was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962. She is the daughter of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (Almond) and Lucius Fisher Foster III, an Air Force lieutenant colonel and later real estate broker. Brandy had filed for divorce in 1959 after having three children with Lucius, but the exes had a brief re-encounter in 1962 which resulted in Alicia's birth...
 
14.
Rachel Griffiths
Actress, Blow
Her mother, Anna Griffiths, is an art consultant. Her uncle is a Jesuit priest. Has two older brothers. One brother, Ben, is a ski instructor. Lived on the Gold Coast, Queensland until age five, then moved to Melbourne. Attended Star of the Sea Catholic Girls' College, did well at school and learned ballet...
“ She's fantastic in the excellent television series Six Feet Under. Favorite films chronologically: Muriel's Wedding; Blow; and Saving Mr. Banks. ” - TimKaye
 
15.
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 where her parents divorced when she was nine...
“ She has a couple of great television series to her credit: The Edge; and Friends.
Favorite films chronologically: She's The One; Office Space; The Good Girl; Bruce Almighty; Derailed; Friends With Money; Marley & Me; He's Just Not That Into You; The Switch; Horrible Bosses; We're The Millers; and Horrible Bosses 2. ” - TimKaye
 
16.
Nicole Kidman
Actress, Moulin Rouge!
Elegant blonde Nicole Kidman, known as one of Hollywood's top Australian imports, was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii, while her Australian parents were there on educational visas. Kidman is the daughter of Janelle Ann (Glenny), a nursing instructor, and Antony David Kidman, a biochemist and clinical psychologist...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Dead Calm; The Others; Birthday Girl; Cold Mountain; The Interpreter; and Margot At The Wedding. ” - TimKaye
 
17.
Helen Hunt
Actress, Mad About You
Helen Hunt began studying acting at the age of eight with her father, respected director and acting coach Gordon Hunt. A year later she made her professional debut and afterwards worked steadily in films, theatre and television.
“ Of course, she's great on the television series, Mad About You, but I also recall her earlier on Darkroom (kind of a Twilight Zone wanna-be), and in a cameo on Friends.
Favorite films chronologically: Peggy Sue Got Married; As Good As it Gets; Pay It Forward; Castaway; What Women Want; Empire Falls (TV); Bobby; and Every Day. ” - TimKaye
 
18.
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...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Raising Arizona; Broadcast News; The Firm; Home For The Holidays; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; and Thirteen. ” - TimKaye
 
19.
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...
 
20.
Dakota Fanning
Hannah Dakota Fanning was born on the 23rd of February 1994, in Conyers, Georgia, USA, to Heather Joy (Arrington) and Steven Fanning. Her mother played professional tennis, and her father, now an electronics salesman, played minor league baseball. She is of German, Irish, English, French, and Channel Islander descent...
“ Favorite films chronologically: I Am Sam; Man On Fire; War Of The Worlds; and The Runaways. ” - TimKaye
 
21.
Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson was born in New York City. Her mother, Melanie Sloan, is from a Jewish family from the Bronx, and her father, Karsten Johansson, is a Danish-born architect, from Copenhagen. She has a sister, Vanessa Johansson, who is also an actress, a brother, Adrian, a twin brother, Hunter Johansson...
 
22.
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Jennifer Jason Leigh was born Jennifer Lee Morrow in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of writer Barbara Turner and actor Vic Morrow. Her father was of Russian Jewish descent and her mother was of Austrian Jewish ancestry. She is the sister of Carrie Ann Morrow and half-sister of actress Mina Badie...
 
23.
Illeana Douglas
Actress, Ghost World
Illeana Douglas is an actress, writer, and producer. She studied at "The Neighborhood Playhouse". While working in New York as a stand-up comedian and sketch comedy artist, she got a job "screaming" for Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ. This led to a long working relationship in the films, New York Stories...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Goodfellas; Guilty By Suspicion; Cape Fear; Alive; Stir Of Echoes; and Ghost World.
She's also appeared on several decent television series, including, Seinfeld; Action; The Drew Carey Show; and Six Feet Under. ” - TimKaye
 
24.
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...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Catch Me If You Can; Junebug; Sunshine Cleaning; Doubt; Julie & Julia; Trouble With the Curve; and American Hustle. ” - TimKaye
 
25.
Julia Roberts
Actress, Notting Hill
Julia Fiona Roberts never dreamed she would become the most popular actress in America. She was born in Smyrna, Georgia, to Betty Lou (Bredemus) and Walter Grady Roberts, one-time actors and playwrights, and is of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, and Swedish descent. As a child, due to her love of animals...
 
26.
Glenn Close
Six time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is the daughter of Elizabeth Mary Hester "Bettine" (Moore) and William Taliaferro Close (William Close), a prominent doctor. Both of her parents were from upper-class northeastern families. Glenn...
“ Favorite films chronologically: The World According To Garp; The Big Chill; The Natural; Fatal Attraction; and Air Force One. ” - TimKaye
 
27.
Kyra Sedgwick
Actress, The Closer
Kyra Minturn Sedgwick was born on August 19, 1965 in New York City, to Patricia (Rosenwald), a family and speech therapist, and Henry Dwight Sedgwick V, a venture capitalist. Her mother was from an upper-class German Jewish family, and her father was from a wealthy Massachusetts clan of English descent...
 
28.
Bridget Fonda
Actress, Jackie Brown
Bridget Jane Fonda was born in Los Angeles, California, to Susan Brewer and actor Peter Fonda. She is the granddaughter of Henry Fonda and niece of Jane Fonda, both famous actors. Bridget made her film debut at age five as an extra in Easy Rider, but first became interested in acting after appearing in a high school production of "Harvey." At age 18...
 
29.
Marisa Tomei
Actress, The Wrestler
Marisa Tomei was born on December 4, 1964, in Brooklyn, New York to mother Patricia "Addie" Tomei, an English teacher and father Gary Tomei, a lawyer. Marisa also has a brother, actor Adam Tomei. As a child, Marisa's mother frequently corrected her speech as to eliminate her heavy Brooklyn accent...
 
30.
Maggie Smith
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 Robert Stephens and to playwright Beverley Cross...
 
31.
Margo Martindale
Margo Martindale was born July 18, 1951 in Jacksonville, Texas, to Margaret (Pruitt) and William Everett Martindale, a lumber company owner and dog handler. She is the youngest of three children, and the only daughter. Margo attended Lon Marris College, and later transferred to University of Michigan at Ann Arbor...
“ Favorite films chronologically: The Firm; 28 Days; Million Dollar Baby; Paris, je t'aime (hers is one of the best segments of the film); The Savages; Stop-Loss; August: Osage County; and The Hollars.
And she's great on the TV series, The Americans. ” - TimKaye
 
32.
Amy Smart
Amy Smart was born in Topanga Canyon, California, to Judy, who worked at a museum, and John Boden Smart, a salesman. She has German, English, and Irish ancestry. Smart was a relatively new arrival when she first gained notice for her supporting roles in the 1999 hit teen films Varsity Blues and Outside Providence...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Starship Troopers; Road Trip; Rat Race; The Butterfly Effect; Starsky & Hutch; and Just Friends. ” - TimKaye
 
33.
Claire Forlani
Claire Forlani was born in the United Kingdom and grew up in London. Educated at Arts Educational School, she moved to the United States with her parents Pier Luigi and Barbara Forlani when she was 19 and began starring in films. Claire has had leading roles in such films as Meet Joe Black, Basquiat...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Mallrats; Meet Joe Black; and Love's Kitchen. ” - TimKaye
 
34.
Kristy McNichol
Actress, Empty Nest
Actor Kristy McNichol is best known for her role as "Buddy" in the Spelling/Goldberg hit TV series "Family", where she won 2 Emmy awards and was nominated for a Golden Globe. McNichol began her career with guest appearances on such popular TV series as Starsky and Hutch, The Bionic Woman, Love American Style and The Love Boat...
“ She's fantastic on the television series, Family, which is the main reason for her inclusion on this list.
Favorite films chronologically: The End; Little Darlings; and Only When I Laugh. ” - TimKaye
 
35.
“ She's great on the excellent television series, Six Feet Under, and also appears on the revived series, The X Files: Reopened, but hasn't really managed to turn that into a stellar movie career.
Favorite films chronologically: The Other Woman. ” - TimKaye
 
36.
Sigourney Weaver
Actress, Aliens
Sigourney Weaver was born Susan Alexandra Weaver in Leroy Hospital in Manhattan, New York City. Her father, TV producer Sylvester L. Weaver Jr., originally wanted to name her Flavia, because of his passion for Roman history (he had already named her elder brother Trajan). Her mother, Elizabeth Inglis (née Desiree Mary Lucy Hawkins)...
 
37.
Kate Beckinsale
Actress, Underworld
Kate Beckinsale was born on 26 July 1973 in England, and has resided in London for most of her life. Her mother is Judy Loe, who has appeared in a number of British dramas and sitcoms and continues to work as an actress, predominantly in British television productions. Her father was Richard Beckinsale...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Serendipity; The Aviator; Vacancy; Nothing But The Truth; Everybody's Fine; and Total Recall. ” - TimKaye
 
38.
Kristen Wiig
Actress, The Martian
Kristen Carroll Wiig was born on August 22, 1973 in Canandaigua, New York, to Laurie J. (Johnston), an artist, and Jon J. Wiig, a lake marina manager. She is of Norwegian (from her paternal grandfather), Irish, English, and Scottish descent. The family moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, before settling in Rochester...
“ She's fantastic in her years on Saturday Night Live.
Favorite films chronologically: Knocked Up; Ghost Town; Paul; and Bridesmaids. ” - TimKaye
 
39.
Jennifer Tilly
Jennifer Tilly burst onto the scene playing the tone deaf Monica Moran in The Fabulous Baker Boys, and has been playing unforgettable characters ever since. She earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the spectacularly untalented Olive Neal in Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway. She followed that up...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Bound; Liar, Liar; Cord (aka Hide And Seek); Dancing At the Blue Iguana; and Monsters, Inc. ” - TimKaye
 
40.
Meg Tilly
Actress, The Big Chill
Mother Patricia was a teacher, and former stage actress, her father Harry (Chinese), a car salesman. In the mid 1960s her mother divorced and moved back to Texada Island, British Columbia, to live with Tilly's grandmother, and later the family moved to Victoria. Sister of actress Jennifer Tilly. Raised in British Columbia by her mother and step-father...
“ Favorite films chronologically: The Big Chill; Impulse; Agnes of God; Masquerade; and the TV series Bomb Girls. ” - TimKaye
 
41.
“ Favorite films chronologically: Chicken Run; Vera Drake; Taking Woodstock; and Alice In Wonderland. ” - TimKaye
 
42.
Mayim Bialik
Mayim Bialik grew up in San Diego and got her first acting job (Pumpkinhead) when she was just 12 years old. A number of TV roles followed until in 1990 she was cast in Blossom, the role which made her famous. By 1993, while Blossom was still airing, she had already won a deferred place at Harvard and was also accepted by Yale but chose in the end to attend UCLA...
“ She's an absolute scene-stealer on the TV series The Big Bang Theory! She also appeara a few times on the series Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Favorite films chronologically: Beaches. ” - TimKaye
 
43.
Janeane Garofalo
Actress, Ratatouille
Janeane, the petite woman with the acerbic wit, was born in Newton, New Jersey, in 1964, to Joan, a secretary, and Carmine Garofalo, an Exxon executive. She is of Italian and Irish descent. Janeane had many jobs before breaking into show biz. She worked as a bike messenger, a shoe salesperson, waitress and temp secretary...
“ She's great on television series like The Ben Stiller Show; TV Nation; The Larry Sanders Show; and even has some decent sketches from during her time on Saturday Night Live.
Favorite films chronologically: Reality Bites; The Truth About Cats & Dogs; Cop Land; The MatchMaker; and Dogma. ” - TimKaye
 
44.
Christina Applegate
Christina Applegate was born in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, to record producer/executive Robert William Applegate and singer-actress Nancy Priddy. Her parents split-up shortly after her birth. She has two half-siblings from her father's re-marriage - Alisa (b. 10 October 1977) & Kyle (b. 15 July 1981)...
“ She's terrific on the television series Married With Children, and adequate on the TV series Jesse.
Favorite films chronologically: Streets; Just Visiting; The Sweetest Thing; Wonderland; Grand Theft Parsons; Employee Of The Month; Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy; and The Rocker. ” - TimKaye
 
45.
Mila Kunis
Actress, Black Swan
Mila Kunis was born Milena Markovna Kunis to a Jewish family in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, USSR (now independent Ukraine). Her mother, Elvira, is a physics teacher, her father, Mark Kunis, is a mechanical engineer, and she has an older brother named Michael. After attending one semester of college between gigs...
“ She's impressive on the television series That '70s Show, and Family Guy.
Favorite films chronologically: Forgetting Sarah Marshall; Extract; The Book Of Eli; Black Swan; Friends With Benefits; Ted, and Third Person.
I also like the 2014 Jim Beam commercial where she's gong to come back for her own select barrel of bourbon once it's been aged -- or maybe I just like the product! LOL ” - TimKaye
 
46.
Cameron Diaz
A tall, strikingly attractive blue-eyed natural blonde, Cameron Diaz was born in 1972 in San Diego, the daughter of a Cuban-American father and an Anglo-German mother. Self described as "adventurous, independent and a tough kid," Cameron left home at 16 and for the next 5 years lived in such varied locales as Japan...
 
47.
Sandra Bullock
Actress, Gravity
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. Sandra grew up on the road with her parents and younger sister...
“ Favorite films chronologically: Love Potion No. 9; The Vanishing; Speed; While You Were Sleeping; 28 Days; Crash, Infamous, The Proposal; and The Blind Side. ” - TimKaye
 
48.
Tracy Spiridakos
Actress, Revolution
Tracy Spiridakos is a Canadian actress who stars as Charlotte "Charlie" Matheson in the NBC post-apocalyptic science fiction series Revolution. Tracy was born in Winnipeg Manitoba to her parents George and Anastasia, who are restaurant owners. She has two brothers. Spiridakos began acting in junior high school...
“ Of course, the only reason for including her is for her performance on the television series. Revolution.
Favorite films chronologically: The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. ” - TimKaye