The Ten: Best Actresses of All Time

I’m the fifth person to take up this task. I’m batting post-clean up. I’m the Center on this basketball team. I’m Billy Preston. Here are my progenitors:

I suppose I should tell you what the heck I’m talking about. This is a running list of sorts. A relay race with each blogger removing one actress from a list of the ten best of all time and adding in their own selection. So far Jessica has removed Marilyn Monroe and added Liv Ullmann, Martin Teller has removed Natalie Portman and added Barbara Stanwyck, and Bondo has removed Tilda Swinton and added Emma Thompson. So now I will present the list as I received it and then tell you who I’ll bump and add. Bondo predicted I’ll add a Frank Borzage girl. WILL HE BE RIGHT!?!?! Probably, yes.

The List

Cate Blanchett

Julie Delpy

Katharine Hepburn

Frances McDormand

Julianne Moore

Barbara Stanwyck

Meryl Streep

Emma Thompson

Liv Ullmann

Kate Winslet


To whom should I bid farewell? I’ve never seen a movie starring Liv Ullmann (I know, I’ll get to Scenes from a Marriage and Persona and all of them at some point), but I can’t kick her out from ignorance. That wouldn’t be fair, I don’t think. So, the others. I’d count Blanchett and Streep and Hepburn among my personal favorites, so they’re safe. Winslet’s performance on Extras (eerily foreshadowing her Oscar win for The Reader) is genius. Emma Thompson has the same last name as me. Stanwyck is in The Lady Eve which is amazing. Julianne Moore is in my current Best Movie Of All Time, Magnolia, and is phenomenal in it. Frances McDormand gives one of the best performances of all time in Fargo, I can’t kick her off knowing that. This leaves us one Julie Delpy. I’ve seen two of her films, but probably not the ones that “count” for things like this. If you’re expecting any of the Three Colors trilogy or Before Sunrise or Before Sunset you will be sadly disappointed. No, I’ve only seen The Three Musketeers and An American Werewolf in Paris. Of those two, I only remember her in the latter. She’s very good, but not good enough to remain on this list. I’m sure I’ll regret this decision once I catch up with those five films, but I’m fine with the decision at the moment. Now, the fun part!


I could pick a Borzage woman here. There are two supremely awesome actresses that worked with him several times: Janet Gaynor and Margaret Sullavan. Each would rank up with Blanchett and Streep and Hepburn. They’re very capable doing whatever he asks of them. There is, however a problem. Between the two of them I’ve only seen one movie not directed by Borzage. That movie, Ernst Lubitsch’s The Shop Around the Corner starring Margaret Sullavan, is also fantastic, but I feel I should know more of the actress I pick for such a coveted spot. So I reflected back on who was on the list so far. Is there somebody that matches up to the likes of Streep (I don’t foresee her getting the boot any time soon)? And then I remembered my favorite Streep film and one of my favorite films of all time in terms of acting and emotion. That film is Doubt, and there’s one scene in that film that gets to me every time I even think of it because of how powerful it is. The scene is the conversation between Streep’s nun character and the mother of the child who was possibly abused, played by Viola Davis. This scene is about eight minutes long and it is just awesome. Davis is fearless, leaving nothing behind and letting it all hang out there. It’s vulnerable, it’s intense, it’s enough to get her on this list. But she doesn’t stop there! The Help is a movie that got more flack than it deserved and Davis gives a great performance in it, ending up on my year end best list. And she’s given some good supporting performances, too, in films like State of Play and Solaris and Antwone Fisher. She’s good, really good, and I’m fully confident in her spot on this list.


Up next is Steve Kimes at Just Another Movie Blog. Good luck! Be our James Harden!

17 thoughts on “The Ten: Best Actresses of All Time

  1. Sad to see Delpy go, but Viola Davis was really great in The Help. Can’t remember seeing her in other movies, but I can completely understand your choice based on that one movie!

    Nice to discover another blog I didn’t know about! Immediately added a subscription 🙂

    1. Thanks! You must watch Doubt. It is truly amazing.

      Always happy to have a new follower!

  2. While I’m not rooting for Thompson to be removed, I hope you actually have a better reason than the one you gave for keeping her!

    It’s too bad you haven’t seen Delpy’s better films, but she isn’t one of my favorites on the list anyway.

    As for Davis, I haven’t seen the two films you cited as your primary reasons, but I liked her in Solaris and Antwone Fisher. And it’s nice to get a little bit of racial diversity in this thing.

    You changed my Stanwyck photo 😦

    1. I had to change your Stanwyck photo because it was too small compared to the others. I liked yours better, to be honest, but it just looked weird. Sorry!

      I kept Thompson because of Love, Actually, actually.

      I’ve been meaning to catch up on all of Delpy’s movies. Maybe my shame will be a good motivator!

      You gotta see Doubt. Or at least watch the scene I linked.

  3. “but I can’t kick her out from ignorance.” And yet you removed Delpy without having seen Before Sunrise/Sunset. For shame! Actually let’s forget the whole list and focus in on the fact you haven’t seen Before Sunrise/Sunset. For shame! 😛

    Viola Davis has a 70.7 over 10 films, putting her 8th of the 14 actresses so far featured. You removed my 3rd of 14. I will say, though I’m not that big a fan of the film adaptation of Doubt (loved the play) and don’t really care for The Help, she’s definitely the best part of those films. I don’t remember which role she had in Far From Heaven, but thats by far the best film she’s been in that I’ve seen.

    1. But my Delpy ignorance is only partial, not total as it is with Ullmann. I really need to see Far From Heaven, too.

  4. I have seen Before Sunrise but I definitely think miss Davis is the better actress of the two, so yeah I’m glad you added her in!

  5. I haven’t watched Before Sunrise/Sunset either. For shame! But I’m in the process of trying to get them.

    Approval of your choice of actor. Glad to see some more diversity on this list.

  6. Julie Delpy stands out for me. Although she isn’t very prolific I have to give her a break given that she also adds writing and directing to her list of skills. I’m looking forward to seeing Two Days in New York despite Adam Goldberg’s absence..

    1. She’s good in what I’ve seen her in. I just haven’t seen her in enough. It’s a personal failing.

  7. Thanks for bringing diversity into this list! Super uncomfortable seeing a list of only white people. Viola Davis is a genius! All the love!

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