40 Best Actresses

by christian94 | created - 16 Jun 2017 | updated - 4 days ago | Public

Top 40 in order from best to strong

Top 2 are born in England, 3rd in Spain, 4th Israel and 5th in the US, although actually Australian...

Runner Ups: Anne Dorval (Mommy) Carey Mulligan (Drive, Shame) Charlotte Gainsbourg (Nymphomaniac I & II) Faye Dunaway (Network) Felicity Jones (Theory of Everything) Halle Berry (Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Bullworth, Swordfish) Laura Dern (Wild, Big Little Lies, Jurrasic Park) Olivia de Havilland Rachel McAdams (Southpaw, Spotlight,True Detective) Robin Wright Simone Signoret Taraji P. Henson Yeong-ae Lee (Lady Vengeance, JSA)

Special Mention for Best Young Actress Dakota Fanning

1. 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...

Best Performances: Revolution Road (2008) Titanic (1997) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Steve Jobs (2015) Little Children (2006) All the King's Men (2006)

See also: Hamlet (1996) The Reader (2008)

2. Naomi Watts

Actress | Mulholland Dr.

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...

Best Performances: 21 Grams Mulholand Drive The Ring Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger While We're Young Fair Game Funny Games

See also: J. Edgar The Impossible

3. 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 ...

Best Performances: Abre Los Ojos (1999) Vanilla Sky (2001) Volver (2006) Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) Elegy (2008) Broken Embraces (2009) Twice Born (2012) Everybody Knows (2018)

See also: Blow (2001)

4. 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, a Israeli-born doctor, and Shelley Stevens, an American-born...

Best Performances: Jackie Black Swan Closer Goya's Ghosts Garden State No Strings Attached The Other Boleyn Girl

See also: Star Wars Episodes I, II & III

5. 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 ...

Best Performances: Moulin Rouge! Eyes Wide Shut Rabbit Hole Dogville The Others The Hours The Killing of a Sacred Deer Big Little Lies (2017) [TV]

6. Scarlett Johansson

Actress | Her

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 ...

Best Performances: Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) Match Point (2005) Lost in Translation (2003) Ghost World (2001) We Bought a Zoo (2011)

See also: The Avengers (2012) Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Captain America: Civil War (2016) The Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Avengers: Endgame (2019)

7. 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 ...

Best Performances: Manchester by the Sea (2016) My Week with Marilyn (2011) Blue Valentine (2010) Brokeback Mountain (2005)

8. Alicia Vikander

Actress | Ex Machina

Alicia Vikander is a Swedish actress, dancer and producer. She was born and raised in Gothenburg, Västra Götalands län, Sweden, to Maria Fahl-Vikander, an actress of stage and screen, and Svante Vikander, a psychiatrist. She is of Swedish and one quarter Finnish descent. Alicia began acting as a ...

Best Performances: The Light Between Oceans (2016) The Danish Girl (2015) Ex Machina (2014) A Royal Affair (2012)

9. 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 ...

Best Performances: American Hustle (2013) The Fighter (2010) Doubt (2008) Her (2013)

See also: Arrival (2016) Nocturnal Animals (2016)

10. Isabelle Huppert

Actress | Elle

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...

Best Performances: Elle (2016) Ma mère (2004) La pianiste (2001) La Cérémonie (1995) Madame Bovary (1991) Une affaire de femmes (1988)

See also: The Romanoffs (2018) [TV]

11. 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 ...

Best Performances: Be Carol (2018) Still Alice (2014) The Kids Are All Right (2010) Chloe (2009) A Single Man (2009) Far from Heaven (2002) Hannibal (2001) Boogie Nights (1997)

See also: Maps to the Stars (2014) What Maisie Knew (2012) The Hours (2002) Magnolia (1999)

12. Mélanie Laurent

Actress | Inglourious Basterds

Mélanie Laurent was born in Paris, France. She is the daughter of Annick, a ballet teacher, and Pierre, a voice actor, who is most recognized for the French version of The Simpsons (1989). She has a younger brother, Mathieu, and has both Sephardi Jewish (from Tunisia) and Ashkenazi Jewish (from ...

Best Performances: Paris (2008) The Concert (2009) Je vais bien, ne t'en fais pas (2006) Inglourious Basterds (2009) Beginners (2010) Enemy (2013)

13. Marie-Josée Croze

Actress | Les invasions barbares

Marie-Josée Croze first studied fine arts before opting for the stage at La Veillée-Prospero Theatre workshop in Montreal. In 1993 she got her first movie part in La Florida (1993) and started working for numerous Canadian TV series and movies.

In 2000, with her performance in Denis Villeneuve's ...

Best Performances: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) The Barbarian Invasions (2003) Ne le dis a personne (2006) Munich (2005) Calvary (2014) Iqaluit (2016)

14. Li Gong

Actress | Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia

Born in Shenyang, grew up in Jinan, the daughter of an economics professor. Loved music from childhood, and dreamed of a singing career. After failing to gain entrance to China's top music school in 1985, applied for and was admitted to the Central Drama Academy in Beijing, from which she graduated...

Best Performances: 2046 (2004) Coming Home (2014) Shanghai Triad (1995) To Live (1994) Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

15. Monica Bellucci

Actress | Malèna

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 ...

Best Performances: Wild Blood (2008) Combien tu m'aimes? (2005) Irreversible (2002) Malèna (2000)

16. Ziyi Zhang

Actress | Shi mian mai fu

Ziyi Zhang is a Chinese actress and model. She is best known for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Rush Hour 2 (2001), Hero (2002), House of Flying Daggers (2004), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005).

She made her feature film debut in The Road Home (1999).

For her work in Memoirs of a Geisha she was...

Best Performances: The Road Home (1999) 2046 (2004) House of Flying Daggers (2004)

17. 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 ...

Best Performances: The Savages (2007) You Can Count on Me (2000) Sully (2016)

See also: Kinsey (2004) The Big C (2010) [TV] Ozark (2017) [TV]

18. Marisa Tomei

Actress | My Cousin Vinny

Marisa Tomei was born on December 4, 1964, in Brooklyn, New York, to Patricia "Addie" (Bianchi), a teacher of English, and Gary Tomei, a lawyer, both of Italian descent. Marisa has a brother, actor Adam Tomei. As a child, Marisa's mother frequently corrected her speech as to eliminate her heavy ...

Best Performances: The Wrestler (2008) In the Bedroom (2001) My Cousin Vinny (1992)

19. 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 ...

Best Performances: Adaptation. (2002) Doubt (2008) Music of the Heart (1999) Manhattan (1979)

See also: Sophie's Choice (1982) The Iron Lady (2011)

20. Vivien Leigh

Actress | A Streetcar Named Desire

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 ...

Best Performances: Gone With The Wind (1939) A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

21. Viola Davis

Actress | Fences

Actress Viola Davis was born on her grandmother's farm, at the then-Singleton Plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina. When she was two months old her family moved to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father, Dan Davis, worked as a horse groomer and trainer. Her mother, Mary Alice (Logan), ...

Best Performances: Fences (2016) The Help (2011) Doubt (2008)

See also: Prisoners (2013) Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011) How to Get Away with Murder (2014-2020) [TV] Solaris (2002)

22. Emma Stone

Actress | La La Land

Emily Jean "Emma" Stone was born in Scottsdale, Arizona, to Krista (Yeager), a homemaker, and Jeffrey Charles Stone, a contracting company founder and CEO. She is of Swedish, German, and British Isles descent. Stone began acting as a child as a member of the Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona...

Best Performances: The Favourite (2018) La La Land (2016) The Help (2011) Easy A (2010) Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

23. Jennifer Lawrence

Actress | The Hunger Games

Was the highest-paid actress in the world in 2015 and 2016. With her films grossing over $5.5 billion worldwide, Jennifer Lawrence is often cited as the most successful actor of her generation. She is also thus far the only person born in the 1990s to have won an acting Oscar.

Jennifer Shrader ...

Best Performances: Mother! (2017) Passengers (2016) American Hustle (2013) Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

24. Rinko Kikuchi

Actress | Babel

Rinko was born Kikuchi Yuriko in Hadano just south of Tokyo. The town is known mainly for its green tea and public baths. She is the youngest of three siblings. After being scouted on the street, she began modeling in her hometown and subsequently began acting under her birth name before switching ...

Best Performances: Babel (2006) Norwegian Wood (2010)

See also: Westworld (2016 - 2 episodes) [TV]

25. Liv Ullmann

Actress | Viskningar och rop

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 ...

Best Performances: Scenes from a Marriage (1973)

See also: The New Land (1972) The Emigrants (1971)

26. Keira Knightley

Actress | Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Keira Christina Knightley was born March 26, 1985 in the South West Greater London suburb of Richmond. She is the daughter of actor Will Knightley and actress turned playwright Sharman Macdonald. An older brother, Caleb Knightley, was born in 1979. Her father is English, while her Scottish-born ...

Best Performances: Atonement (2007) The Imitation Game (2014) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Pride & Prejudice (2005)

27. Stéphane Audran

Actress | Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie

Stéphane Audran was born on November 8, 1932 in Versailles, Seine-et-Oise [now Yvelines], France as Colette Suzanne Dacheville. She was an actress, known for The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), Babette's Feast (1987) and Le Boucher (1970). She was married to Claude Chabrol and Jean-Louis ...

Best Performances: Les biches (1968) Juste avant la nuit (1971) Les noces rouges (1973)

28. Reese Witherspoon

Actress | Wild

Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon was born on March 22, 1976 at Southern Baptist Hospital (now Memorial Medical Center) in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the second child of Mary Elizabeth "Betty" (Reese) and Dr. John Draper Witherspoon, Sr. Her father was a military surgeon specializing in ear, nose ...

Best Performances: Wild (2005) Walk the Line (2014) Inherent Vice (2014) The Good Lie (2014) Mud (2012) American Psycho (2000)

See also: Big Little Lies (2017) [TV]

29. Elizabeth Taylor

Actress | Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was considered one of the last, if not the last, major star to have come out of the old Hollywood studio system. She was known internationally for her beauty, especially for her violet eyes, with which she captured audiences early on in her youth and kept the world hooked ...

Best Performances: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) Cleopatra (1963) The Sandpiper (1965) Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

See also: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

30. Sally Hawkins

Actress | The Shape of Water

Sally Cecilia Hawkins was born in 1976 in Lewisham hospital, London, England, to Jacqui and Colin Hawkins, authors and illustrators of children's books. She is of English and Irish descent. Hawkins was brought up in Greenwich, in southeast London. She attended James Allen's Girls' School in Dulwich...

Best Performances: The Shape of Water (2017) Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) Blue Jasmine (2013)

31. 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 ...

Best Performances: The Aviator (2004) Blue Jasmine (2013) Carol (2015)

32. Bérénice Bejo

Actress | The Artist

Actress Bérénice Bejo was born in Buenos Aires, the daughter of Silvia De Paoli, a lawyer, and Miguel Bejo, a filmmaker. When she was three, Bejo's family relocated to Paris, France. She embarked on a successful acting career in the 1990s, with various roles in French television and film ...

Best Performances: The Past (2013) The Artist (2011)

See also: Sa raison d'être (2008) [TV]

33. Shailene Woodley

Actress | Divergent

Actress Shailene Woodley was born in Simi Valley, California, to Lori (Victor), a middle school counselor, and Lonnie Woodley, a school principal. She has one brother, Tanner. She was educated at Simi Valley High School in California. When Woodley was four years old she began commercial modeling. ...

Best Performances: The Descendants (2011) The Fault in Our Stars (2014) Snowden (2016) Big Little Lies (2017) [TV]

34. Jessica Chastain

Actress | Zero Dark Thirty

Jessica Michelle Chastain was born in Sacramento, California, and was raised in a middle-class household in a northern California suburb. Her mother, Jerri Chastain, is a vegan chef whose family is originally from Kansas, and her stepfather is a fireman. She discovered dance at the age of nine and ...

Best Performances: Molly's Game (2017) The Martian (2015) A Most Violent Year (2014) Interstellar (2014)

See also: The Romanoffs (2018) [TV] Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

35. Margot Robbie

Actress | Suicide Squad

Margot Elise Robbie was born on July 2, 1990 in Dalby, Queensland, Australia to Scottish parents. Her mother, Sarie Kessler, is a physiotherapist, and her father, is Doug Robbie. She comes from a family of four children, having two brothers and one sister. She graduated from Somerset College in ...

Best Performances: I, Tonya (2017) The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

36. Rosario Dawson

Actress | Rent

This stunning and resourceful actress has been primarily a film player thus far. Only recently has she been opening herself up more to doing television (the series Gemini Division (2008), which she executive-produced), and animated voice-overs. Dawson's powerhouse talent stands out the most in edgy...

Best Performances: Top Five (2014) Trance (2013) Seven Pounds (2008) Death Proof (2007) Rent (2005) 25th Hour (2002) Kids (1995)

37. Annette Bening

Actress | American Beauty

Annette Carol Bening was born on May 29, 1958 in Topeka, Kansas, the youngest of four children of Shirley (Ashley), a soloist and church singer, and Arnett Grant Bening, an insurance salesman. She is of German and British Isles ancestry. Her family moved to California when she was young, and she ...

Best Performances: 20th Century Women (2016) The Kids Are All Right (2010) American Beauty (1999)

See also: Being Julia (2004) The Grifters (1990)

38. Suzanne Clément

Actress | Mommy

Suzanne Clément was born on May 12, 1969 in Montreal, Canada. She is an actress and director, known for Mommy (2014), Laurence Anyways (2012) and Les hauts et les bas de Sophie Paquin (2006).

Best Performances: It's Not Me, I Swear! (2008) Laurence Anyways (2012) Mommy (2014) My Internship in Canada (2015)

See also: Audition (2005)

39. Do-yeon Jeon

Actress | Hanyo

Jeon Do-yeon spent five years starring in television dramas before achieving instant star status with her film debut opposite Han Seok-gyu in The Contact. She has since gone on to take a wide variety of roles, from her performance as a schoolgirl in Harmonium in My Memory to that of a wife having ...

Best Performances: Way Back Home (2013) The Housemaid (2010) My Dear Enemy (2008) Secret Sunshine (2007) You Are My Sunshine (2005) Untold Scandal (2003) The Contact (1997)

40. Sissy Spacek

Actress | In the Bedroom

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.


Best Performances: In the Bedroom (2001) Coal Miner's Daughter (1980) The Straight Story (1999) The Help (2011)

See also: Carrie (1976) Missing (1982)

41. Thandie Newton

Actress | Crash

Thandie Newton was born in London. She is the daughter of a Zimbabwean mother, Nyasha, a health-care worker from the Shona tribe, and Nick Newton, a British father who worked as a lab technician. She lived in Zambia until political unrest caused her family to move back to the UK. She then lived in ...

Best Performances: Crash (2004) The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) Westworld (2016) [TV] Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

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