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The Ten: Best Actresses of all time “relay race”

top 10 actresses all time relay race

With the actor relay race going strong thanks to a lot of great bloggers, I have been getting questions about a list for the actresses. Well, the wait is over as I’ve decided to kick of “The Ten” for the best female actresses. The rules will be exactly the same, but for those not in the know:

I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actresses of all time. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one actress (that is an obligation) and add his/her own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. The idea is to make this a long race, so that enough bloggers get a chance to remove and add an actress. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best actresses. It will also mean that those who follow this relay race will get to know new blogs as well!

So let’s start the race. Who have I chosen for the starting grid? Who are The Ten?


Julie Delpy
I’ve only seen her in Before and After Sunset, but her performance in those two movies was amazing. She shows a range of emotions, it doesn’t feel like she’s acting and her character is completely real. Reason enough for me to put her on the list.


Katharine Hepburn
This is an actress I really don’t know much about (only saw her in The African Queen), but not adding her to the initial list would probably get me some very angry responses. I’m not going to pretend I know a lot either. A quick look at IMDB shows she has won 4 Oscars, so that’s a pretty good indication she could act.


Natalie Portman
With one of her first roles in Léon(The Professional) she made clear that she was born to give great performances. She was amazing in it and also impressed me in Garden State and of course my all time favorite movie Black Swan. Portman manages to portray her characters in a way that you believe their fears, pain and joy.


Meryl Streep
Although I personally try to not watch any movies she’s in (something about her just makes me feel very uncomfortable), I can’t deny she is a good actress (won 3 Oscars). She does not appear in my personal list of favorite actresses, but deserves a mention here.


Julianne Moore
She started her career playing in a soap opera, but through the years has appeared in an impressive list of movies. Recently she was great as Sara Palin in Game Change, but has many more great roles to her name. One of my favorite actresses, I couldn’t leave her out of the list.


Frances McDormand
I will have to admit that I haven’t seen many movies she’s in, but those I have seen her in she has blown me away. She acts so convincingly and natural I think she deserves to be mentioned. Just look at Fargo and Burn After Reading.


Tilda Swinton
She has starred in great movies like Michael Clayton, Adaptation and We Need to Talk About Kevin and has managed to mesmerize me with her acting. Some have described her as having an otherwordly look, which I think makes her stand out as an actress and only adds to her screen presence.


Overview of the roles of actress Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett
Oscar winner Cate Blanchett seems to be able to put in nothing less than stellar performances. Whether it’s an elf in Lord of the Rings or Queen Elizabeth I, she has a stellar screen presence and more than deserves a spot in the top 10.


Marilyn Monroe
Now you might say that she wasn’t a good actress, but I don’t think there has been another actress that could light up a scene as much as she did. The camera loved her and so did the audiences that went out to see her movies.

The Many Faces of... Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet
Although I initially wasn’t that impressed with her, but with roles in both The Reader and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind she won me over. An actress that can prove herself in any genre, whether it’s comedy, drama or romance.

Now I know you are missing out some classic actresses, but since I don’t know enough about them I don’t feel qualified to add them. I assume some of you do have that knowledge and will make the necessary changes. As a matter of fact I count on it!

So with that said it’s time to pass the baton for the first time and I’ve decided that the honour will fall upon Jessica from the Velvet Café.

Category: Movies
  • Ruth Richards says:

    So it begins…. :)

    May 1, 2012 at 4:56 am
  • Andrew says:

    I put up a song list up on my blog, and all people did was say, “Why didn’t you put this (blank) song on?” So, I’m just going to say great list (and it is). Well done.

    May 1, 2012 at 5:22 am
    • Nostra says:

      It will always happen, which of course makes lists so much fun, people are always missing things and I think it is a great way to get to know things you might not be familiar with yet.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:53 am
  • Anna (@MovieNut14) says:

    Ooh, nice touch with the addition of Marilyn Monroe. I both look forward to (and dread) when I get tagged.

    May 1, 2012 at 6:04 am
    • Nostra says:

      I couldn’t leave her out, she’s so iconic. You can already start thinking! ;)

      May 1, 2012 at 10:02 am
  • paolo.kagaoan@gmail.com says:

    Yes! So excited for this. So many ideas already although I really like this list and it’s going to be really difficult to choose which one to add and remove.

    May 1, 2012 at 7:40 am
    • Nostra says:

      Looking forward to what you will be doing with the actor one (which I think is now in your hands). Hope you will get tagged for this one too!

      May 1, 2012 at 10:03 am
  • thethrussellproject says:

    Nice, I have been following every step of the actor race so this should be great!

    May 1, 2012 at 8:40 am
    • Nostra says:

      Thanks for that, really makes me happy to hear you find it so interesting to follow. I love it too of course.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:04 am
  • Pete says:

    What a great list! So glad to see Winslet, Streep, Moore, Swinton and Blanchett on there. Looking forward to seeing how this develops. Hope none of those disappear though!

    May 1, 2012 at 8:54 am
    • Nostra says:

      I had a really hard time making this one. To me the male one was much easier to make. Well, some will start disappearing, we’ll find out who they are soon enough!

      May 1, 2012 at 10:05 am
  • themovieuniverse says:

    I’m glad his has begun; some interesting choices to start off with. Looking forward to seeing who goes and who comes as the race goes on.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:59 am
    • Nostra says:

      It took me a bit longer than expected to write this, but I’m glad I’ve managed to finally get around to it.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:06 am
      • themovieuniverse says:

        Well while we were waiting the Top Ten Actors one has been moving along fast to keep fans of the relay happy. Now we have two things to look forward to with the addition of the Actresses, I hope it runs for just as long!

        May 1, 2012 at 10:16 am
        • Nostra says:

          Me too, it seems the actors one hasn’t lost any steam yet :)

          May 1, 2012 at 10:22 am
  • Jaina says:

    Great to see you’ve got this going, Nostra!

    Love the list – it’s got a great selection of classic and new blood. Natalie Portman has always been a big favourite of mine. Ever since Leon, she’s just an incredibly talented young actress.

    I always find it harder picking out favourite actresses than actors. Don’t know why, but it feels like it takes a lot more for me to have an actress stand out.

    Looking forward to seeing this evolve :)

    May 1, 2012 at 10:47 am
    • Nostra says:

      Yeah, I had the same issue getting the list together. Somehow actress names don’t come to me easy although when I finally had names it was hard to narrow them down.

      May 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm
  • Scott Lawlor (@FrontRoomCinema) says:

    Nice to see you answering the calls Nostra!! I hope it comes my way soon!!

    May 1, 2012 at 10:54 am
    • Nostra says:

      I am here to please my readers :)

      May 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm
  • Alex Withrow says:

    Nice, I was hoping you’d start this up. I gotta be honest, I do think Marilyn Monroe was a terrible actress, but I can’t argue with you: she ignited the screen like no other.

    At any rate, I hope this makes its way to me eventually! Thanks for starting it.

    May 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Yeah, she wasn’t great and notorious for forgetting her lines, but to me she deserves to be mentioned even though she’ll disappear…

      May 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm
  • jackdeth72 says:

    Nicely done, Nostra!

    Patiently waiting for Marilyn Monroe to drop and have Myrna Loy installed.

    This listing should get interesting once Ruth, Claire, iluv, Paula and other ladies in attendance have their chance to opine!

    May 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Well, you should check out The Velvet Cafe then as Jessica has already posted her change to the list.

      May 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm
  • Jessica says:

    So, my take on this is up! I’m afraid a few people here are going to get a little disappointed. But remember: it’s just the beginning! This list won’t look anything the same within a week!

    May 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Great to see Jessica. Each person gets a week to put up their list, but lately it seems people need a day or less to make the changes ;)

      May 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm
      • Jessica says:

        I know the next in line is already working on his take. I can’t imagine we’ll have to wait a week for it. This creater you’ve made runs quickly!

        May 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm
  • martinteller says:

    Thanks for starting this, and thanks to Jessica for including me! My entry is up: http://martinteller.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/the-ten-best-actresses-of-all-time-relay-race/

    I’m happy with my selection, although I hate that I left Mukherjee for “strategic” reasons. This list is very white so far! There are some very worthy non-Caucasians to consider… can’t believe I forgot to mention Ruby Dee!

    May 1, 2012 at 7:42 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Thanks for the quick update! I will do an update post during the weekend as with the speed these are currently going my homepage would be filled with update posts :)

      May 3, 2012 at 11:07 am
  • Eric says:

    Good stuff, Nostra! It looks like this blogathon is already off to a successful start. :D

    May 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Thanks Eric, it is off to a good start indeed

      May 3, 2012 at 11:07 am
  • Bondo says:

    I’m next up on this and will have it posted in the morning. Interesting to trace back and see that the original list wasn’t a personal list so much as a list made with a look at a general sense of who would be popular picks. Makes it tougher to pick one to take off because you can’t just go with the one you don’t know.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:12 am
    • Nostra says:

      Yeah, I though I’d not pick my favorites (some of them wouldn’t be on there otherwise). Nice to see you’ve put your post so quickly, really impressed with the speed :)

      May 3, 2012 at 11:09 am
  • The Focused Filmographer says:

    Ooh! and so it begins! ha! NICE list Nostra! I am super excited to see this develop. :)

    May 2, 2012 at 5:42 am
  • Castor says:

    Nice starting lineup although I don’t see Melissa George on here. Let’s where it goes from here!

    May 2, 2012 at 8:01 am
    • Nostra says:

      There will always be actresses out there people will be missing. Hope you’ll get tagged so you can add her!

      May 3, 2012 at 11:10 am
  • sati says:

    Excellent list! Black Swan is your all time favorite movie? Cheers, same here!

    May 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm
    • Nostra says:

      It is? Wow, excited to hear that. What’s are the reasons it is your all time favorite?

      May 3, 2012 at 11:11 am
  • ruth says:

    I’ve been waiting for this. Looks like the ball’s already rolling swiftly! :D

    May 3, 2012 at 5:43 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Yes, but it seems more like a speeding bullet! ;)

      May 4, 2012 at 12:31 pm
  • martinteller says:

    My thoughts on the progress of the race: http://martinteller.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/catching-up-with-the-best-actresses-of-all-time-relay-race/

    I sincerely hope none of the other bloggers are offended if I put down their selections. All in good fun, nothing personal intended.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:32 am
    • Nostra says:

      Nice update, although I’ve seen that some bloggers didn’t like it and did feel offended…

      June 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm
  • Anonymous says:

    You forgot Audrey Hepburn

    July 28, 2012 at 6:17 am
  • joe says:

    How can this list not include Barbara Stanwyck? She should be #1.

    January 29, 2013 at 6:23 am
    • Nostra says:

      Well, it’s all about personal taste. I must admit I have not seen much of her work…something I guess I should do something about.

      January 29, 2013 at 9:37 am
  • Kate Troy says:

    Any list Of The greatest actresses that omits Gina Rowlands is absurd.

    February 27, 2013 at 2:39 am
    • Nostra says:

      Well, more entries were written (that’s the idea of the relay race). Not sure if she was included, but as things go with lists everyone will miss someone or not agree with the choices.

      February 27, 2013 at 7:13 am

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