Tuesday, July 15, 2008

100 Favorite Actresses

It's a Tuesday Top Ten blow-out. Top 10 multipled by 10. In other words, a Top 100. Can you tell I'm exhausted this week? Guest bloggers start pitching in Thursday --I've got freelance stuff due, friends visiting for the Yaz reunion concert [insert synthesized "woot" here] and more.

Enjoy fumes...

(For best results hit play in the "video of week" sidebar so that this gif has Old Hollywood musical accompanient!)

Nathaniel's 100 Favorite Actresses -in animated gif format... don't look for a link ;)
Extremely subject to change as I see more older movies. The goddesses appear in very rough ascending order... (Ask me tomorrow and the order will vary considerably but the actresses will remain the same, give or take a dozen of them... cuz you know it'd be a top 200 if I had the time)

Did you see your favorites? If not, too bad. They're mine. Mine. All mine! Jealousy will do you no good. Feel free to discuss them or make a case for some of yours.


adam k. said...

Very rough indeed... Winslet, Moore and others seemed way too low.

And does this list include television? I'm assuming not, because then where are McDonnell and Sackhoff??

Any list that includes work from television or stage would be a very different list, I'd imagine. But then, true cinephile that you are, maybe you'd still be majorly biased toward film work.


um... Winslet and Moore are in the top 20! of ALL TIME. How is that "way" too low ;) ???

and yes, it's a film list.

a tv list would look a lot different but i'm not good at fusing the two.

Anonymous said...

Is the list on the blog or on the website? I couldn't find the link for it.

PIPER said...


The Yaz reunion tour? For real?

Runs Like A Gay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Runs Like A Gay said...

This is a fantastic list of great stars, but I think I'd probably change some of them. Here are about 50 other actresses you may (or may not) have considered.

Jane Alexander, Fay Bainter, Ethel Barrymore, Kathy Bates, Anne Baxter, Cate Blanchett, Beulah Bondi, Leslie Caron, Gladys Cooper, Judi Dench, Mildred Dunnock, Edith Evans, Joan Fontaine, Jodie Foster, Janet Gaynor, Whoopi Goldberg, Gloria Grahame, Lee Grant, Goldie Hawn, Susan Hayward, Wendy Hiller, Celeste Holm, Anjelica Huston, Glenda Jackson, Jennifer Jones, Diane Ladd, Elsa Lanchester, Jessica Lange, Angela Lansbury, Sophia Loren, Marsha Mason, Mercedes McCambridge, Helen Mirren, Eleanor Parker, Lynn Redgrave, Anne Revere, Julia Roberts, Jean Simmons, Gale Sondergaard, Gloria Swanson, Jessica Tandy, Claire Trevor, May Whitty, Debra Winger, Teresa Wright, Jane Wyman, Renee Zellweger

Any that might make you change your mind?

Anonymous said...

whew....i was worried my favorite, diane keaton was not on there. however, she just popped. wondering if ann-margret is up? i saw burstyn. great list.


Yaz reunion tour. Yes, 4 real.

The list is not on the website. You have to watch the gif to see all 100 women.

but here ya go... (again very rough order... i was kinda making it as i was going along. this shit is time consuming and i got other deadlines!)

could be replaced. We'll see...
Carmen Maura
Ruth Gordon
Mary Astor
Jean Arthur
Daryl Hannah
Jeanette Macdonald
Maggie Cheung
Lana Turner
Estelle Parsons
Lily Tomlin
Cyd Charisse
Samantha Morton
Shelley Duvall
Sally Field
Winona Ryder
Kirsten Dunst

tier 6
Rita Moreno
Frances McDormand
Parker Posey
Patty Clarkson
Marlene Dietrich
Kim Novak
Myrna Loy
Gong Li
Glenn Close
Hayley Mills
Isabelle Adjani
Angela Bassett
Joan Cusack
Geraldine Page

tier 5
Irene Dunne
Liza Minelli
Sigourney Weaver
Deborah Kerr
Miranda Richardson
Ginger Rogers
Toni Collette
Helena Bonham-Carter
Greta Garbo
Isabelle Huppert
Juliette Lewis
Madelin Kahn
Maggie Smith
Rita Hayworth
Anne Bancroft
Maureen Stapleton
Emanuelle Béart
Judy Davis
Joan Allen
Agnes Moorehead

tier 4
Uma Thurman
Katharine Hepburn
Tilda Swinton
Thelma Ritter
Sissy Spacek
Joanne Woodward
Laura Linney
Emma Thompson
Judy Holliday

Tier 3
Susan Sarandon
Vanessa Redgrave
Dianne Wiest
Nicole Kidman
Faye Dunaway
Annette Bening
Barbara Stanwyck
Rosalind Russell
Claudette Colbert
Greer Garson
Ellen Burstyn
Holly Hunter
Lillian Gish
Barbra Streisand
Olivia deHavilland
Mia Farrow

tier 2
Shirley Maclaine
Julie Christie
Carole Lombard
Louise Brooks
Liv Ullman
Norma Shearer
Kate Winslet
Kathleen Turner
Joan Crawford
Audrey Hepburn
Julie Andrews
Ingrid Bergman
Vivien Leigh
Diane Keaton

(tier 1) TOP TEN*
Bette Davis
Julianne Moore
Marilyn Monroe
Jane Fonda
Liz Taylor
Catherine Deneuve
Meryl Streep
Judy Garland
Natalie Wood
Michelle Pfeiffer


there is a lot of give in this list of course but the top ten is pretty sturdy... and unlikely to have trouble fending off attackers ;)

Anonymous said...

i didn't know you like natalie wood so much!!! OMG, so do i. Do you still love him Deenie?

Glad to see myrna loy on there and La Faye.

Anonymous said...

by the way.....it's minn(2 n's) elli. You probably never saw her old concerts when she sings LIZA with a Z. She sings about the spelling of Minnelli.


i have seen LIZA WITH A Z... how could i not. Liza would be way higher if we were just talking celebrity everything ;)

Anonymous said...

"M I double N, e double L I...that's the way you spell Minnelli...it's Italian, blame it on papa, what can i do?"

oh god, i souldn't remember stuff like that.


from your list of why nots these are the ones that came closest to making it.. either I didn't love them quite enough OR i haven't seen enough of their filmography

Fay Bainter
Gladys Cooper
Joan Fontaine
Jodie Foster
Janet Gaynor
Susan Hayward
Anjelica Huston
Glenda Jackson
Helen Mirren
Gloria Swanson
Debra Winger

Adam said...

Really perfect choices. You pretty much covered all the actresses I love and would include. One major exception would be Gena Rowlands, whose work namely in her husband's films always shatters me completely. She plays drunk and borderline insane like no one else in the business. It's pure magic.

Anonymous said...

In your top 5 .. 3 of my favorites are there:
Natalie Wood
Meryl Streep
Judy GArland

Anonymous said...

I generally agree but why isn't la Winslet in tier one? I love Marilyn Monroe but I think the ultraversatile Kate the great and her should change ranks.

adam k. said...

Yeah the one thing that really threw me for a loop was when Marilyn Monroe was higher on the list than Kate Winslet. I was like "whaaaa-- this can't be in order." I know you've referred to her as underrated, but... well, I had no idea.

Winslet should be top tier. Moore I thought was surprisingly low relative to the previous top 100 thing you did where she was top 4. But this time, you replaced her with Streep, which is fine by me. In my book, anywhere lower than #1 for Streep is too low.

But this is your list. And you've seen more films than I : (

adam k. said...

Also, Kathryn Hepburn wasn't even in the previous top 100, as I recall. Now she's tier 4. Bowing to consensus on this one? Or a genuine change of heart?

Anonymous said...

Where is (why is n't) Cate Blanchett on your list??


my thing with Katharine Hepburn is this: she is hopelessly overvalued BUT... now that i've caught some of the early comedies, well, I just love her in them. so that's my take: undervalued comedienne, overvalued dramatician (wd?)


yeah... i have issues with cate blanchett, anon. haven't you been reading ;)

she'd be in a top 300 though! It's just that there's LOTS of ground to cover. 9 decades of actresses to love you know...

Anonymous said...

Did I NOT see Gena Rowlands amongst your top 100?

Anonymous said...

On the other hand I thank you so much for Liv Ullman and Winona Ryder.
Still, you gotta watch "Opening Night" with La Rowlands


Gena Rowlands is probably up there with Tuesday Weld in actresses i hear people obsess about who i am very oddly unfamiliar with despite years of movie obsessions. dunno why...

Anonymous said...

Why can I not find a link to this list? I've tried everything (I think) - but there's no link on the site or the blog (or this post) that takes me to the list. What am I missing? HELP!

Anonymous said...

anon from above again...nevermind. there's no link. got it. sorry!

Anonymous said...

can i make a case for a fave supp actress of mine and the only woman to bring real fear to the screen in ALIEN

miss veronica cartwright!!!

oscar worthy comedic brilliance in the witches of eastwick.

Kurtis O said...

What glamorous pics you have! I especially love the shots of Sigourney, Toni, Holly and Julie (Chritie, that is). I need not let the whole reel run, for I am quite familiar with your impeccable taste. Way to give a boy an exciting Tuesday list. Cheers, Nat. :-)

Anonymous said...

Love most of the list! I, too, find that that more I watch older movies, the more I love the Golden Age goddesses to the current goddess. Some of my favorite inclusions on your list are:

Jean Arthur, Ingrid Bergman, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Irene Dunne, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Greer Garson, Rita Hayworth, Judy Holliday, Deborah Kerr, Carole Lombard, Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner, Norma Shearer (I finally saw Marie Antoinette last night, and my love meter jumped a couple hundred notches), Jeanette Macdonald, and a few others.

I would recommend watching not only more of the previously mentioned ladies, but also some of my other less-known golden age goddess favorites:
Anne Baxter, Ann Sheridan, Joan Blondell, Claire Trevor, Gloria Grahame, and Miriam Hopkins.

I feel the same about Hepburn - love her early comedy roles (i.e. Holiday, Bringing Up Baby, etc) but hate her later dramatics. She's a bit too much, even for me

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I forgot to mention these ladies, too:

Maureen O'Hara, Ann Sothern, and Paulette Goddard. They completely slipped my mind, but they're some of my favorites, too.

Anonymous said...

Where is Juliette Stevenson?


Juliette Stevenson is currently somewhere around #281. I do wish she'd get some TRULY MADLY DEEPLY sized roles again

Pedro said...

I would add Maria Falconetti for her performance in La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel... you know this list is great... you almost make me cry (actressexuality perfection).

My only observation is that you are overrating Kidman... Thurman is 1.556.789,12 times better

Anonymous said...

AH... and I loved Cate Blanchett's snub (well done!)

Anonymous said...

Please, don't be mean and check my list in my blog...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a list.

I will never ever understand how people love Natalie Wood. Never.


Luigi... i'm not mean. i just can't read Spanish. sorry.

Anonymous said...

In thinking about my own list: do you think it's credible to have someone on my list even if they've only acted in one full length picture?
If so, Bjork would be very high on my list for Dancer in the Dark since her work in that film is much greater than the entire careers of most actresses.

Anonymous said...

God, you haven't seen the best performance of all time, Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence. Worse: if you're unfamiliar with her, you don't know John Cassavetes' movies.

Netflix them now. For such an actressexual, it's too bad not to follow Rowlands' work in these movies. You're gonna be crazy when you see Opening Night.


You can't be serious when you say Hepburn's dramatic work is overvalued. I could never see anybody else play Long Day's Journey Into the Night after seeing her.

- cal roth

Anonymous said...

great great great list

where is cecilia roth though?
and the actresses from almadovar

for asia: people must not forget lin ching hsia.
she was the original gong li

she is effectivly no 1: you top 3 are a little more idiosyncratic but hey---thats you!

and I love michelle p!

Dame James said...

I'm glad somebody else is spreading the Greer Garson love around. Along with Norma Shearer, she is one of the greatest actresses of the Golden Age who is quietly being forgotten as time goes by. And it's such a shame because no one could ever play those saintly characters quite like she did.

Anonymous said...

What a great list. And what fabulous photos you've found for some of these - not the usual most-used ones. A labor of love indeed. I appreciate the choice from so many decades, starting from Gish and Brooks and Garbo. Thank you.

Oscar_Buzzer08 said...

Nathaniel, where's Jolie?? She's had a handful of great roles where she was able to show her underrated talent: Girl, Interrupted, Gia, George Wallace, Playing By Heart, A Mighty Heart, and Changeling.


Jolie is in the also rans ;) maybe in another decade if she does more Mighty Hearts. I do like her a lot as a star.

There was a whole mess of people bubbling under including: Jodie Foster, Stockard Channing, Janet Leigh, Charlotte Rampling, Angelica Huston, Fay Bainter, Victoria Abril, Jamie Lee Curtis, GLoria Swanson, Laura Dern, Jolie, Bette Midler, Christina Ricci, Bacall, Donna Reed, Winger.... the list goes on

and on and on. I hope to compile a more serious ranking once I've delved deeper into some of the biggest gaps in film knowledge. I'm pretty weak on film noir for example which is embarrassing... but we all have our gaps.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Nathaniel, I LOVE it whenever you pass judgment on actresses by putting them on a list.

It's always enough to start people talking. :)

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Stanwyck too low - Andrews too high - Kidman way too high - but pointless to argue here. I love seeing this kind of mad passion devoted to goddesses like Lombard and Maura and Moore and Leigh and Monroe (I was shocked to see her that high! pleasantly, of course)

Anonymous said...

I wanna know you're thoughts on Chloe Sevigny and Emily Watson. I've heard you praise their performances in Boys Don't Cry and Breaking the Waves, but how do their careers gel with you?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

where are judi dench,kristin scott thomas,joan plowright,judy davis,brenda blethyn,lynn redgrave and helen mirren

Anonymous said...

Been reading your blog for ages, so I was a little surprised when I saw Louise Brooks quite high on your list. I'm a big fan too, but I can't seem to remember you mentioning her before...

I'd also have Garbo much higher. And no Gene Tierney?

By the way, what's your dream film pairing from your list?


i haven't talked about Louise much... but in most cases it's because i write about 80s to 00s cinema the most. Silent Movies (which I love) don't get very many posts. I know I should indulge more often.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see you include Carole Lombard, but what about Miriam Hopkins and Kay Francis??!!!

Anonymous said...

... or lets not forget the wonderful actresses of Japanese cinema: Setsuko Hara; Kinuyo Tanaka; Hideko Takamine; etc.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE that there is no Blanchett or Roberts. Excellent!!

Gald to see so many of my own favs there:

Weaver (though I'd have her far higher)
Kidman (again, much higher)

and the always wonderful Natalie Wood at number two!!!

Brilliant choices!

Anonymous said...

Nat...just wondering
where would you rank Renee Zellweger and Cate Blanchett?

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel: If you are not familiar with her, please check out Korean actress Moon So-Ri. The film Oasis is available as R1. She plays a young woman with cerebral palsy so convincingly that you get surprised when she acts totally normal. On R3 is the film Bewitching Attraction where she plays a woman with a limp. A scene with her drunk in high heels is amazing again for displaying her physical dexterity. The kinds of performances she does would have won her Oscars if she were an Anglo-Hollywood actress.

Anonymous said...

Unfotunately, most of Gena Rowlands best work is unavailable on Netflix, so you can't queue it. I would agree with Anon that for such an actress sexual is pretty crazy you can't include Gena Rowlands where in fact one of your favorite movies ever: "All About my Mother" is been dedicated to her talent as an actress and her performance in Opening Night (short of an acting miracle). Also, Giulietta Massina from Nights of Cabiria, La strada and Juliet of the Spirits? Dude, to see her face just brings joy into my life. please Queue Nights of Cabiria. Where's Jeanne Mureau? Jane Wyman (Without here her would be no Moore's Far from heaven)? Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Harriet Andersson, Gunnel Lindlom(All the Bergman girls)?

Sid said...

Good to see Kidman pretty high on the list. If I remember correctly, the last time you posted such a list, she wasn't even in the Top 100.

Anonymous said...

Nevermind non-starters Blanchett and Zellweger, where does Swank rank? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Love that Duvall is on your list. Singular talent that one!

Anonymous said...

"yeah... i have issues with cate blanchett, anon. haven't you been reading ;)

she'd be in a top 300 though!"

Very funny.

verninino said...

Nathaniel, Nathaniel, Nathaniel, Where is Jeanne Moreau? Bette Davis's bitchitude mashed with Catherine Deneuve's alluring detachment.

I can see I'm going to have to arrange a ménage á trois or two with you while I'm still on sick leave.

From my personal DVD collection we could (and should) watch at least two:
Joseph Losey's EVA

(More or less in order of Jeanne's ability to make me want to write bad checks.)

I've been in love with Gena Rowlands since watching GLORIA at 12. Through her I discovered my heart and loins were multipurpose.


verninino bring it on! french & american goddesses are always welcome.

Anonymous said...

... but why no love for the great Japanese goddesses??? That is fine, you can leave them with me. They're mine!!!

Anonymous said...

Cheung should not be replaced!
watch more of her filmography!

I heart your love for Nicole Kidman my all time goddess!

I would like to see Anna Karina in the top 100!

have you watched "vivre sa vie"? she delivers one of my favorite performances ever.
Beautiful and underrated actress


Anonymous said...

Have you thought of putting a top 100 all time female performances?

Anonymous said...

Nice List. I just watched Bridges of Madison County and this confirms my opinion that Meryl is one of the greatest actresses. Silkwood should come tomorrow, and I plan on renting Out of Africa and Cry in the Dark soon as well.

Danielhardy23@gmail.com said...

great list. A lot of the older stars I need to catch up on.

Just for the hell of it, cos I love a list, ones that would have made mine, not mentioned:

claudia cardinale
alida valli
barbara hershey
nastassia kinski
jeanne moreau
jennifer jason leigh
bib andersson
zhang ziyi
catherine keener
anjelica huston
katherine ross
robin wright
giulietta masina
patricia arquette
jean seberg
liv tyler
mimi rogers
irene jacob
juliette binoche
laura dern
debra winger
ornella muti

good work.