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The Top 25 Best Actress Winners To Date

We’ve nearly reached the end of the line, so that means only one thing…it’s almost over folks. Yes, this penultimate time around I’ll be tackling one of the very biggest of the big eight categories, one of the only two left. This one is arguably the second or third biggest of them all…it’s the Best Actress field. This is really about as prestigious a category as there is ladies and gentlemen, give or take how you stack Picture/Director/Actor. I could go on and on in preparation right now, waxing poetic, but at this point I know how the game works here for everyone. You all mostly just want to see the lists that I do anyhow, so I have no problem obliging you good people there in that particular regard once again. All you have to do is just be patient over the next paragraph or two and you’ll get the goods front and center for your reading pleasure…

I’ll basically just skip burying the lead this time around and just discuss my top ten a bit here now. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been Diane Keaton in her iconic performance in Annie Hall. She creates an unforgettable character alongside Woody Allen and wins both your heart and your mind. It’s unquestionably the best winner in this category’s history, at least in my eyes. A classic performance in a classic film. Not far behind is Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, which I think is not just one of the all time best bits of acting, but somehow an underrated one despite winning Swank her first Oscar. Swank actually has two performances in my top ten (and she’s not the only multiple honoree here, but I’ll get to that in a moment), but this is her crowning achievement. Rounding out the top five we have Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs (who has two performances on my list), Elizabeth Taylor for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Charlize Theron for Monster. They’re all tremendous performances, and they’re joined in an absolutely stacked top ten by the likes of Louise Fletcher for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Vivien Leigh for Gone with the Wind, Natalie Portman for Black Swan, Meryl Streep for Sophie’s Choice, and Swank again for Million Dollar Baby. Besides Swank’s two mentions, Foster also shows up again just outside the top ten for The Accused, while Leigh has one more in the top 20 with A Streetcar Named Desire (Frances McDormand also makes two appearances on the list as well). This is the sort of category where you easily could have gone 50 deep and still had to exclude some worthy winners, so the 25 ladies cited here are all totally top notch. There’s not a lesser choice in the lot, believe me there.

Here now is how I’d rank the 25 top winners of the Best Actress Oscar:

25. Helen Hunt – As Good As It Gets
24. Brie Larson – Room
23. Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
22. Kathy Bates – Misery
21. Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
20. Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
19. Shirley MacLane – Terms of Endearment
18. Julie Andrews – Mary Poppins
17. Olivia Colman – The Favourite
16. Vivien Leigh – A Streetcar Named Desire
15. Ellen Burstyn – Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
14. Ingrid Bergman – Gaslight
13. Frances McDormand – Fargo
12. Jodie Foster – The Accused
11. Emma Stone – La La Land
10. Hilary Swank – Million Dollar Baby
9. Meryl Streep – Sophie’s Choice
8. Louise Fletcher – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
7. Vivien Leigh – Gone With the Wind
6. Natalie Portman – Black Swan
5. Elizabeth Taylor – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
4. Charlize Theron – Monster
3. Jodie Foster – The Silence of the Lambs
2. Hilary Swank – Boys Don’t Cry
1. Diane Keaton – Annie Hall

Honorable Mentions: Cher – Moonstruck, Anne Bancroft – The Miracle Worker, Katharine Hepburn – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Julia Roberts – Erin Brockovich, and Reese Witherspoon – Walk the Line

Stay tuned for the final one of these Top 25 installments next week as we wrap up the series with the big one…Best Picture!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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