20 Favorite Actresses

Where does my heart lie? The meme going around now is 20 favorite actresses. Please go here to see the compilation of links as well as Nathaniel’s choices.

I had a hard time with the “all time” part of things because I am obviously not an “all-time” kind of girl … However, it was fun (and difficult) to narrow the list down. Surprisingly difficult. I didn’t worry about the count, just went about choosing my girls and finding photos and when I went to tally up I had over 30.

Regardless. Here is where it stands, at this moment in time.

20 of my favorite actresses in no particular order:

Love these women:

Gena Rowlands, Barbara Stanwyck, Sissy Spacek, Isabelle Adjani, Catherine O’Hara, Rosalind Russell, Hedye Tehrani, Marilyn Monroe, Madeline Kahn, Ingrid Bergman, Diane Keaton, Carole Lombard, Sanaa Lathan, Joanne Woodward, Julie Christie, Charlotte Rampling, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep and Maggie Cheung.

And can’t I please add just one more??

Jean Arthur.

But what about Bette and Joan and Agnes Moorehead and Christine Lahti? What about Patricia Arquette and Lili Taylor? What about Katharine Hepburn? What about Judy Davis?

Let it be, Sheila, let it be.

Other lists:

My New Plaid Pants Emma Thompson – argh – how could I forget her??

J.D.’s list

El Gringo Argh – Holly Hunter!!

Nick’s Picks some of my favorites there too

Peter Lovin’ the love for Maggie.

Glenn’s list

Flickhead’s most awesome list leading off with Adjani

Jeremy’s list – great images

Ivan’s list – I am in love with his. Let’s hear it for Jean Arthur

CelineJulie’s list

Ed’s list makes me wish I could add to mine, although we do have a lot of overlap

Ted’s list – some of my favorites there too! That picture of Maggie Smith and Emma Thompson made my day.

Cullen’s list He has included Jennifer Coolidge which is enough to make me love him forever

Here is Alex’s awesome list

I love Tommy’s list – lots of funny ladies, who I think sometimes get short shrift, totally unfairly!

Here is Jonathan’s list – he focuses on character actors. Great stuff.

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46 Responses to 20 Favorite Actresses

  1. Nicola says:

    Cool list Red. And how much do I love that picture of Catherine O’Hara!

  2. DBW says:

    Wow. I feel like an old horndog. If I was about 30 years younger, I would be tempted to scream out a passionate “GENAAAA!” Or “Isabelle!” Damn.

    Hey, you forgot Zellweger…OK, I’m going now.

  3. red says:

    I looooooove that picture of Isabelle. The socks, the look in her eyes … She’s terrific.

  4. red says:

    Catherine O’Hara is a total genius, as far as I’m concerned. She can do anything! She’s a real idol of mine.

  5. Emily says:

    One of my favorite Catherine O’Hara parts was in Game Six. She’s in that movie for about twelve seconds, but her presence as the ex-wife that’s torturing Michael Keaton’s character is there for the whole film. The best lines in the movie:

    “I’ve hired a prominent divorce attorney.”

    “How prominent?”

    “He has his own submarine.”

    The way she delivered that last line was pure, pure brilliance. Gawd, I LOVE her.

    Great choices, Sheila.

  6. red says:

    She truly does seem to be channeling or something. Her work is broad and hilarious but also touching and specific. I LOVE acting like that.

    Some of the deleted scenes from Waiting for Guffman verge on outright tragedy!!!

  7. Kate says:

    I’m still laughing about DBW’s “you forgot Zellweger”! Ha ha ha!

    What film is that picture of Marilyn from? That is such an arresting shot.

    And that’s the most beautiful, womanly picture of Rachel McAdams that I’ve ever seen.

    This is a super-fun post. I’m trying to think of my 20. Hmmmm….

  8. red says:

    Kate –

    That shot is a screengrab I got from Don’t Bother to Knock – Marilyn Monroe, Richard Widmark and a young Anne Bancroft – some of Marilyn’s best work … unlike any of her other roles – sadly, it’s not really a well-known film – you should see it!! You know, before you descend into the upcoming insanity over the next year or so!

    Rachel McAdams. One to watch! Slings and Arrows! Love her!!

    I’d love to hear your faves, dear friend.

  9. DBW says:

    Kate–It’s nice to know someone finds me amusing. Thanks. And, that photo of Rachel (in my reveries we are on a first name basis)is exquisitely feminine.

  10. red says:

    I can no longer speak against the Zellweg due to her general awesomeness and niceness to my cousin during the recent filming of a movie.

    I’ve gone tribal. You’re good to my family? You’re in.

    But carry on!!

  11. red says:

    I am very excited (and also nervous) about the upcoming Time Traveler’s Wife. I just want McAdams to tip over into Major Playah status – I think she is FAR superior to most young actresses working today. She’s good, good, good!!

  12. miker says:

    Very cool list, naturally. Lombard and Christie are my two all-time faves. :-)

  13. george says:

    Great list. Mine might have found a place for Ann Sheridan and Rita Hayworth because… well, do I need a reason?

  14. ted says:

    great list – you tempt me.

  15. Catherine says:

    Awesome list! I posted mine in the comments section at the Film Experience and there’s a some overlap here. Especially concerning the first three you posted, those women would slide right into my top 5 no problem (with Bette at #1 – forever and always!) and Holly Hunter, Julianne Moore, Laura Linney and the Streep battling it out for the last spot.

    No Irene Dunne, though? I’ll admit she’s been on my mind ’cause I watched The Awful Truth this morning.

  16. red says:

    I know, Catherine – totally with the Irene Dunne thing – I did think of her after I completed my list and was like, “ARGH. I need another list!!”

  17. red says:

    George – No, you do not need a reason!! I love both of those ladies!

  18. Catherine says:

    You should make two lists, like pre and post 1960!

  19. red says:

    Catherine – I did like the look of the “modern” ladies up next to the old-movie ladies – Tehrani in her chador next to Roz in jodhpurs – I like that they are all diverse and yet still all part of the same profession!

    Well, that’s it. I will just have to do version two!! With all my ‘leftover ladies’!

    I love that you love Bette. So do I. :)

  20. Catherine says:

    And I love that we’re both on first name terms with her!

    …you’re talking about Midler, right?


  21. Tommy says:

    Wow…the list I just scrawled off the top of my head ended up at 33 names…

    Have to think on this one a little….

  22. Cullen says:

    Finally got mine up. Couldn’t do photos here from work so I added descriptive text. Photos later perhaps.

  23. red says:

    Catherine – Oh yes, TOTALLY first name basis!!

  24. Tonio Kruger says:

    Yes, Jean Arthur is cool.

    It’s no coincidence that at least two of her movies are on my wish list for this Christmas.

  25. jennchez says:

    excellent list!! love the barbara stanwyck picture, god she was stunning! happy to see rosalind russell on there also, i watched his girl friday a few days ago and no matter how many times i watch it i still convulse with laughter :)

  26. red says:

    Love Roz! Watching her stalk around in that pinstripe suit in His Girl Friday is just sheer liquid joy!

  27. If we’re lucky, maybe we can collectively convince Maggie Cheung to put off her retirement from film. I recently saw one of her earlier films, The Iceman Cometh. Not Eugene O’Neill, but Maggie is pretty funny trying to educate a frozen Ming Dynasty guard the ways of the late 20th Century.

  28. Cullen says:

    Thanks! Finally I have pictures.

  29. red says:

    Peter – wow, I haven’t seen that one. The first time I ever saw her was in Yuen Ling-yuk – the movie about the big 1930s film actress in China – and it was one of the most amazing performances I have EVER seen.

  30. Tommy says:

    Got mine up. That one was rough…I’m glad you included Maggie Cheung, as she was the last I left off on my list….

    This one’s a fun one.

  31. red says:

    Great great list Tommy and I totally agree with your comment about Gilda Radner. She was really special.

  32. Kerry says:

    I didn’t make the list????????


    And yes, Renee Zellweger is WICKED nice. Wicked, wicked, wicked nice, and incredibly generous and unbelievably hard-working and I really like her.

  33. Nicola says:

    Would it be a total cheek to post my list on YOUR blog? I feel the need to put it out into the universe. Good mojo and all that.

    Deborah Kerr
    Julie Andrews
    Emma Thompson
    Meryl Streep
    Diane Keaton
    Katharine Hepburn
    Jean Arthur
    Audrey Hepburn
    Gwyneth Paltrow (I feel the need to justify this one. I think she’s a good actress though despite the annoying stuff.)
    Kate Winslet
    Natasha Richardson
    Susan Danford
    Irene Dunne
    Alice Krige
    Vanessa Redgrave
    Maggie Smith
    Reese Witherspoon
    Keira Knightley
    Kay Kendall
    Lauren Graham

    I love listing!

  34. red says:

    Nicola – I love reading other people’s lists!

    Youve got a lot of my faves on there, too. I feel strangely happy in an almost PROPRIETARY way that Jean Arthur is making so many people’s lists!! Like, Sheila: you do not OWN Jean Arthur. Please calm down.

    But still: I love how often she’s showed up!!

    And I’m a full believer in not having to “justify” personal taste in pretty much anything. So you love Gwyneth. Rock on!!

    I don’t believe Sanaa Lathan made anyone else’s list yet – but I think she’s just wonderful, always good, so I’m sticking by her!!

  35. red says:

    Kerry, your first comment made me laugh because it all goes along with the theme in my life these days. Cracks me up!!

    I’d love to hear your favorite actresses!

  36. Kerry says:


    I know, I was trying to keep the egomania going in all corners. Haha.

    Let’s see, just off the top of my head: Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson (especially in Sense and Sensibility), Janet McTeer, Fiona Shaw. . .

    I will keep thinking on it.

  37. Kerry says:

    Oh, Vanessa Redgrave, I can’t believe I forgot Vanessa Redgrave. My choices are overwhelmingly Irish or British. What’s up with that? Remind me of some great American actresses I am forgetting. Susan Sarandon, Sigourney Weaver. . .

  38. red says:

    Oh! You were already playing along in the joke! DUH!

    I’m already feeling like I need to do another list with more lovely ladies! Helen Mirren! Maggie Smith! Isabelle Huppert!

  39. Bob Turnbull says:

    Seriously great list Sheila.

    I have to echo Nicola’s first comment – that’s an awesome picture of Catherine. One of the funniest and most charming actresses I’ve ever seen (though I am admittedly totally biased to anything SCTV related).

    I just realized looking at someone else’s list that I forgot Diana Rigg. And I now regret not adding in Madeline Kahn (she was on and dropped at the last minute). And Myrna Loy. And Irene Jacobs. And…

    Fun stuff though!

  40. red says:

    Bob – I know, the list goes on and on! I need to have Hepburn on there, and Isabelle Huppert and Maggie Smith and Thelma Ritter …

    Too many to choose from!

    I loved looking at your list as well.

  41. Tonio Kruger says:

    The Jean Arthur movies on my Xmas list?

    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington and You Can’t Take It With You.

  42. Tonio Kruger says:

    Ugh! I meant Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, of course.

  43. Dr Orlof says:

    I choosed Maggie Cheung too but I like very much your list (Carole, Marilyn…)

  44. The magnificent Agnes Moorehead

    An in-depth appreciation of Agnes Moorhead (shame on me for forgetting to put her on my list) – and a great interview with Charles Tranberg, the author of I Love the Illusion: The Life and Career of Agnes Moorehead ….

  45. Beheaded before Skyward

    I went over to Jen’s last night (we lived together for nine years, there’s a special bond there), and I had my South Beach snack and she made a veggie burger and we talked our heads off for many many…

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