Top 10 Best Actress Oscar winners of all time

Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowski from Sophie
Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowski from Sophie's Choice (1982)

The 2023 Oscar Awards are scheduled to be held on March 12, 2023, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The 95th Academy Awards is set to be a star-studded affair, with some big names gracing the red carpet at the event.

Ever since its inception in 1929, the Oscars have been considered one of the most prestigious awards in the entertainment industry, with nominations across several categories. However, some of the biggest awards of the night include the ones for Best Picture, Best Original Song, Best Actor, and Best Actress.

Across the award ceremony's 95-year run, 78 actresses have been honored with the prestigious accolade. Meryl Streep has received the most Oscar nominations so far (17), and Katharine Hepburn has won the award a record four times. As we wait for this year's winner, here's a quick look at some others who have bagged the Oscar for Best Actress in the past.


Cate Blanchett, Jodie Foster, and eight other brilliant actresses who bagged an Oscar

1) Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles in Cabaret (1972)

Cabaret is often considered one of the greatest musical dramas of all time. Minnelli displayed flamboyance and wilderness in this role, making it one of her career-defining performances.

For the role, the actress designed her hair and make-up with the help of her father, director Vincente Minnelli. She and her father modeled the visual look of her charecter upon Jazz Age flapper icons such as Louise Brooks and Colleen Moore.

Minnelli has also appeared in movies like Lucky Lady, New York, New York, Rent-a-Cop, Stepping Out, and many more.


2) Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Foster played the fearless Clarice Starling, a rookie FBI agent who interrogated the dreaded Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Her awe-inspiring performance perfectly captures the audience's own fear of being alone in the dark with a cannibalistic killer.

Prior to filming, she reportedly spent a great deal of time with FBI agent Mary Ann Krause, who gave her the idea of Clarice Starling standing by her car and crying.

The actress is also known for her roles in Panic Room, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, A Very Long Engagement, Flightplan, and Inside Man.


3) Holly Hunter as Ada McGrath in The Piano (1993)

The Oscar winner learned sign language for the role. In the film, she portrays a mute woman who communicates via piano. Hunter learned to play the piano when she was nine years old and played most of the piano sequences herself. She earned praise for keeping her character both mysterious and an open book.

She has also acted in films like Raising Arizona, Copycat, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Big White, Jackie, and more.


4) Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

Louise Fletcher's ruthless portrayal of Nurse Ratched was truly magnificent and deserving of an Oscar. However, Fletcher was reportedly extremely disturbed by her own performance and couldn't watch the film for years.

The legendary actress sadly passed away in September last year. She is also known for Cruel Intentions, Exorcist II: The Heretic, Flowers in the Attic, and Firestarter.


5) Cate Blanchett as Jasmine in Blue Jasmine (2013)

Cate Blanchett might just win the Oscar this year too for Tár, but she has already won it twice, once for Best Actress and once for Best Supporting Actress.

Her performance in Blue Jasmine is crushingly beautiful and her depiction of a broken woman is fascinating. The character of Jasmine French is based on Ruth Madoff, wife of Wall Street swindler Bernie Madoff.

She has even worked in hit films like The House With A Clock In Its Walls, Jungle Book: Origins, The Aviator, The Good German, Voyage of Time: Life's Journey, and more.


6) Jane Fonda as Bree Daniels in Klute (1971)

Fonda's Bree Daniels is a high-class call girl and aspiring actress and was marked for murder in the movie. Her look in the film saw her in a shag haircut and thigh-high boots, which has since become an iconic style statement.

Jane Fonda and her co-star also reportedly developed a non-exclusive romantic relationship offscreen, which lasted until about June 1972.

Other unmissable movies featuring the actress are Barefoot in the Park, Barbarella and They Shoot Horses, Don't They.


7) Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson in Fargo (1996)

McDormand's Marge Gunderson in Fargo is a small-town police officer who is not only kind but also fierce in her ways. She is intelligent and competent enough to nab dangerous criminals on her own.

In the film, McDormand wore a "pregnancy pillow" filled with birdseed to simulate her pregnant belly.

She is also known for her roles in Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, and Barton Fink.


8) Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry (1999)

Boys Don't Cry is one of the boldest character portrayals ever captured on film. This film not only won Swank an Oscar, but also made her go from a somewhat obscure name to an acclaimed actress, within weeks.

As per multiple sources, to prepare for this challenging role, Swank lived as a man for at least a month, including wrapping her chest in tension bandages and putting socks down the front of her pants in much the same way that Brandon Teena did.

Hilary Swank also stars in The Black Dahlia, Freedom Writers, P.S. I Love You, and more.


9) Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowski in Sophie's Choice (1982)

Meryl Streep's performance as a Polish survivor of the Holocaust is enchanting and displays her character's light and darkness in every aspect. What's even more shocking is that she learned to speak both Polish and German for her part.

She is also known for Manhattan, The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer, and The French Lieutenant's Women.


10) Ingrid Bergman as Paula Alquist in Gaslight (1944)

One of the greatest actresses of all time in one of the greatest psychological thrillers of all time, Bergman's Oscar for the role was well deserved.

Her character, Paula Alquist, is methodically manipulated by her new husband into believing that she is going mad. Gradually, she loses her ability to trust her judgment, making the film a compelling watch.

Bergman is also known for Casablanca, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Bells of St. Mary's, Spellbound, Notorious, Stromboli, and more.

Related: Top 10 best actor Oscar winners


Don't forget to watch the 95th Academy Awards to find out who takes home the Oscar for Best Actress.

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Edited by Upasya Bhowal
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