After about a month of intense, hardcore procrastination, I have finally worked up the strength and determination to create this list! Hazzahs are in order, I should say. I am actually rather excited about this list because there are a plethora of outstanding, versatile actresses gracing us with their talents in Hollywood nowadays, and this list gives me, someone of obvious acclaim and respect in the field, a chance to rate them as if they are simple jesters put on this Earth for my amusement. To be in my good graces is not a privilege one should take lightly, as my approval is currently more valuable than the Canadian dollar.
To be clear, these actresses have more talent, charisma, likability, and any other remotely positive traits than I could ever realistically hope to have. But the world is damn chaotic and I am mentally ill, so only quantitative rankings can help me make sense of the bedlam that enshrouds my insignificant existence.
I also plan on making this a sort of series, where I rank the best in the game right now. So, if you’re smart, assume “Top 10 Film Actors Right Now” is on the periphery lurking somewhere, menacingly, just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
For this list, I tried to base my rankings off of star power, versatility, sheer ability, and recent track record. All of those are obviously objective qualities so I am sure everyone will agree with my rankings 100%. Before I begin, let me give honorable mentions to Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Kate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, and Melissa McCarthy. If those are the actresses that just missed the cut, just imagine the talent of the actresses that placed.
10. Emma Stone
We begin with Emma Stone. Stone began her career primarily in teen comedies, such as “Superbad”, “Zombieland”, and “Easy A” but has since evolved into one of the most accomplished and layered actresses of this generation. Possessing a natural charisma about her, she is able to seamlessly join any production and seemingly steal the show. She has the ability to keep eyes on her throughout her performances, due to her wit and beauty, not to mention the fact that she has iconic piercing eyes that can only be matched by Amanda Seyfried and Gollum.
While she has been in a few flops and misfires over the past decade or so, such as the notoriously whitewashed “Aloha” and the subpar “The Amazing Spider-Man” movies, one would be a fool to think she is on anything less than an absurd hot streak in Hollywood. She has garnered 3 Academy Award Nominations since 2015, including a win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for 2017’s “La La Land”, where she was, in my humble opinion, the only character with personality and the only one who could sing in the musical, outside of John Legend. Stone has the range to play comedic roles, musical roles, and dramatic roles, doing so with a great deal of success throughout her career. If there is a project tied to her name, you would be safe in betting that at the very least, she will deliver a quality performance.
9. Viola Davis
Viola Davis, who has conjured a legacy as an absolute powerhouse, is perhaps one of films most commanding presences ever. In just the past few years, she has starred in dramas, such as “Doubt”, “The Help” and “Fences”, comic book films like “Suicide Squad” (Which didn’t suck because of her. She was a perfect Amanda Waller), and thrillers like “Widows”. Along the way, she has accumulated 3 Oscar nominations and 1 win to go along with near-universal praise for her performances on the critically acclaimed TV show “How to Get Away with Murder”. For an actress that has owns a filmography around 80 total professional projects, it is truly astounding to think that she is only just now hitting her Hollywood stride.
Davis thrives in roles of authority or integrity, where she can really express herself with her natural gift for powerful inflections and leadership. When she has something to say, you have no choice but to listen. She can tug at your heartstrings as she breaks down in front of you or she could make you fear for your own well being as she flexes her power and bends you to her will. She simply has that sort of gravity and versatility about her. There are very few actresses ever who can fill the roles that Viola has with anywhere close to an equal impact.
8. Brie Larson
If the last two actresses I mentioned were in the midst of a hot streak, then Brie Larson has just ignited her own fuse. Larson is quickly becoming one of the biggest players in the movie industry, thanks in no small part to being the first female to lead her own film in the ever popular and profitable Marvel Cinematic Universe. Her turn as Captain Marvel, in the film of the same name, solidified her star power in the mainstream, because despite a concerted effort to foil her and pump in artificial negative reactions to her film, it still grossed well over $1 billion to go along with critical success. She took trolls head-on and still won. With the future of the MCU shrouded in mystery, one of the only reliable predictions is that Larson will play a major role in the franchise going forward.
Larson started as a child actor on TV and integrated into film with many comedic roles. Her ability to perform within a great deal of genres, ranging from science fiction to teen comedies to comic book films to indie dramas, is without equal. In 2015, she basically swept all of the major awards for her performance in “Room” where she plays a kidnap victim and mother who doesn’t leave her prison. It is an intimate and powerful performance truly worthy of all the praise it has earned her. One of the surest bets around is that Brie is not going away anytime soon.
7. Charlize Theron
Charlize is definitely a personal favorite of mine (And I hear she is single and looking for someone special… All I am saying is I am here if you’re interested, Charlize). The South African actress can literally do anything and I would be there to support her. As far as versatility goes, she is without question in the elite discussion. She has provided the voice of Mother in 2016’s animated fantasy adventure “Kubo and the Two Strings”, while also being the villain, Cipher, in “The Fate of the Furious”. And those are not even her most well-recognized roles! Let’s talk about “Atomic Blonde” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”, shall we? Furiosa is undoubtedly one of the most badass characters ever conceived and is really the star of the show over Tom Hardy’s Max. And as Lorraine in “Atomic Blonde”, she is a modern female James Bond-type. And now, she is diving into the world of romantic comedies by starring in “Long Shot” alongside the incredibly lucky Seth Rogan.
All of those performances are noteworthy, but as I have mentioned in my Top 10 Acting Performances of All-Time list, Charlize puts together a legendary performance in 2003’s “Monster” as serial killer/street prostitute, Aileen. Although that performance took place in the early part of the century, the fact that she is still going strong at the moment keeps it relevant. Theron is a juggernaut in the industry, and seemingly will always be.
6. Natalie Portman
It is no secret that I love Natalie Portman and everything that she stands for. She is currently my most frequently reviewed star and that is because she has been consistently putting out thoroughly enjoyable films since the very genesis of her career. I consider her a very cerebral actress, often thriving in roles that are aimed towards the thinking fan. She has shown an invaluable ability to carry entire films on her acting alone, while simultaneously being able to thrive in a complementary role. Simply adding Portman to your cast automatically makes it a film worth seeing.
The only time you could argue she is not at the very top of her game is when she is forced into a role that is given subpar writing for her to work with, such as her roles in “Thor: The Dark World” and the Star Wars Prequel trilogy. I think we could all agree she did the best with what she was given there. But her low points are few and far between. She won the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in 2011, along with seemingly every other award under the sun, for her dark and twisted turn as Nina in “Black Swan”, and has since continued to show why she is an absolute force to be reckoned with. She also has starred in personal favorites “V for Vendetta” and “Léon: The Professional” in the decades before, proving that not only does she have staying power, but she is already an actress with a living legacy.
5. Octavia Spencer
I am just going to start this one off by saying “HAVE YOU SEEN THE TRAILER FOR ‘MA’?” Octavia Spencer is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished actresses in the game today, but she really is mostly known for roles that are Oscar-bait dramas where she plays a supporting role as a woman of integrity with a sharp wit of some sort. She fills a niche with extraordinary reliability, but now, based on the trailer alone, we can see that Spencer has the range to take on roles no one would have ever dreamed to associate her with before. It is not that I doubted her ability to do different roles, I just never thought I would see it from her. But now I eagerly anticipate her turn as a horror antagonist when “Ma” releases at the end of May!
But even without considering her upcoming films, her recent filmography is full of absolute bangers! “The Shape of Water”, “Hidden Figures”, “Zootopia”, and “The Help” headline the extensive list of movies that have taken home Oscar gold in just the past decade that she has starred in, even winning the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role award in 2011. There was a stretch for a few years that seemingly any film that had her in the cast was all but guaranteed to win big at award season, and I honestly do not see that trend coming to an end anytime soon.
4. Amy Adams
With one obvious exception, and trust me, we will be getting to that, Amy Adams is perhaps the best actress of this generation. She might be only number 4 on my list, but do not think that means she is only average (You’d have absurdly high standards if that were the case). Amy Adams, in her career, has been nominated for SIX GODDAMN OSCARS. I really shouldn’t have to say more but you people are so needy. It is a very unattractive quality.
She has flourished in supporting roles in ensemble casts, taken control in lead roles of science fiction and fantasy movies, and thrived as a pseudo-lead in the dark comedy biopic “Vice” as Former Second Lady, Lynne Cheney. Adams has worked exceptionally well with directors David O. Russell and Adam McKay and had the difficult task of sharing the screen with perennial powerhouses Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper in those films. Her performances in those films just prove her to be their equal, if not them her equal. She has a transformative quality about her that allows her to handle movies of a variety of tones and genres and produce consistent polished results. Amy Adams is the epitome of “A sure thing” in Hollywood.
3. Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyong’o’s entire film career has been elite. Undoubtedly the most underappreciated aspect of Lupita’s rise to superstardom is the fact that she only began acting in films in 2011. Oh yeah, and she won an Academy Award in her debut film, too. No big deal. And, as it currently stands, she has delivered my personal choice for best performance by an actress in 2019 for “Us”. There are no peaks-and-valleys when you quite literally only produce gold.
Besides her glorious turn in the horror genre this year and her Oscar-winning performance in “12 Years a Slave”, Lupita has starring roles in the new Star Wars trilogy and in the Black Panther series within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as a voiceover role in the highly successful “Jungle Book” remake for Disney. Her meteoric rise seemingly came out of nowhere and now she is tied to virtually all of the most successful projects that Hollywood is procuring. Considering she is still a relative newcomer to Hollywood; I can only imagine what she will accomplish when her filmography exceeds the just 24 total projects she has acted in as of now.
2. Margot Robbie
I will be honest with you guys, before I created this list and did some research into the actresses that I would be writing about, I really had no idea Margot Robbie was Australian. That might seem like nothing more than a fun-fact you would see on a Snapple cap, but to me, that just proves how effective on an actor she is. I have seen Margot in many motion pictures and never once had even the slightest inkling that she was not speaking in a native accent. In fact, she has been known to incorporate a plethora of different dialects in her performances, proving that she has mastered the incredibly challenging art of modulating her voice, thus being able to succeed in all sorts of roles. I challenge you to find an actress working today who can match her skill in this art.
She was nominated for an Oscar for her turn as a sympathetic and abused Tonya Harding, in “I, Tonya” while also having provided one of the few bright spots in “Suicide Squad” for her violent and unexpectedly layered Harley Quinn. She has shown the world that she can salvage something out of the direst of productions as well as carry a film to the heights of Hollywood success. And with her upcoming starring role in “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” compounded with her performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street”, she is now seemingly the go-to female lead for big-time directors Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese. We are merely at the dawn of Margot Robbie’s acting career.
1. Meryl Streep
“The Deer Hunter”; “Kramer vs. Kramer”; “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”; “Sophie’s Choice”; “Silkwood”; “Out of Africa”; “Ironweed”; “Evil Angels”; “Postcards from the Edge”; “The Bridges of Madison County”; “One True Thing”; “Music of the Heart”; “Adaptation.”; “The Devil Wears Prada”; “Doubt”; “Julie and Julia”; “ The Iron Lady”; “August: Osage County”; “Into the Woods”; “Florence Foster Jenkins”; “The Post”. For those of you that lost count, that is 21. 21 Oscar nominations in her career. There is actually so much I could say about her that none of it is necessary. She is the best, most versatile and committed actress of all time.
Some of you might be saying “She might be the best ever but is she still at the top of her game?”. You pure, innocent, naïve people. Let me tell you that she has been nominated for 6 Oscars in just this decade alone, which is not so surprisingly, more than anyone else. As long as she is still making movies, she is the undisputed Queen. The Iron Lady on the Iron Throne.