By John H. Foote

A notoriously difficult category for many reasons, but like supporting actor, stars are born from this one. Many of the winners or nominees go on to Best Actress nominations or wins, yet just as many are nominated once, even win once and then never are in the Oscar race again.

The early years are the leanest.

Again, no committee, no group just me. So argue, debate, whatever … my choices.

  • Karen Black in Five Easy Pieces*
  • Lee Grant in The Landlord
  • Faye Dunaway in Little Big Man
  • Estelle Parsons in I Never Sang for My Father
  • Helen Hayes in Airport
  • Cloris Leachman in The Last Picture Show
  • Ellen Burstyn in The Last Picture Show
  • Diana Rigg in The Hospital
  • Maureen Stapleton in Plaza Suite
  • Ann-Margret in Carnal Knowledge*
  • Shelly Winters in The Poseidon Adventure*
  • Geraldine Page in Pete ‘n’ Tillie
  • Marisa Berenson in Cabaret
  • Diane Keaton in Play It Again, Sam
  • Ellen Burstyn in The King of Marvin Gardens
  • Madelaine Kahn in Blazing Saddles
  • Madelaine Kahn in Paper Moon
  • LInda Blair in The Exorcist*
  • Candy Clark in American Graffiti
  • MacKenzie Phillips in American Graffiti

  • Diane Keaton in The Godfather Part II
  • Talia Shire in The Godfather Part II
  • Diane Ladd in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore*
  • Madelaine Kahn in Young Frankenstein
  • Karen Black in The Great Gatsby
  • Belinda J. Montgomery in The Other Side of the Mountain
  • Lily Tomlin in Nashville
  • Ronee Blakley in Nashville*
  • Lee Grant in Shampoo
  • Goldie Hawn in Shampoo
  • Beatrice Straight in Network
  • Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver*
  • Piper Laurie in Carrie
  • Jane Alexander in All the President’s Men
  • Lauren Bacall in The Shootist
  • Melinda Dillon in Slap Shot
  • Melinda Dillon in Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Vanessa Redgrave in Julia*
  • Tuesday Weld in Looking for Mr. Goodbar
  • Leslie Browne in The Turning Point
  • Meryl Streep in The Deer Hunter
  • Dyan Cannon in Heaven Can Wait*
  • Penelope Milford in Coming Home
  • Teresa Russell in Straight Time
  • Maggie Smith in California Suite
  • Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer*
  • Jane Alexander in Kramer vs. Kramer
  • Jessica Lange in All That Jazz
  • Mariel Hemingway in Manhattan
  • Valerie Harper in Chapter Two
  • Mary Steenburgen in Melvin and Howard
  • Cathy Moriartry in Raging Bull*
  • Elizabeth McGovern in Ordinary People
  • Beverly D’Angelo in Coal Miners Daughter
  • Anne Bancroft in The Elephant Man
  • Mary Steenburgen in Ragtime
  • Elizabeth McGovern in Ragtime
  • Jane Fonda in On Golden Pond
  • Maureen Stapleton in Reds*
  • Kathleen Turner in Body Heat
  • Lesley Anne Warren in Victor/Victoria*
  • Glenn Close in The World According to Garp
  • Jessica Lange in Tootsie
  • Teri Garr in Tootsie
  • Dana Hill in Shoot the Moon
  • Glenn Close in The Big Chill
  • Linda Hunt in The Year of Living Dangerously*
  • Cher in Silkwood
  • Tess Harper in Tender Mercies
  • Sandra Bernhard in The King of Comedy
  • Dame Peggy Ashcroft in A Passage to India
  • Christine Lahti in Swing Shift*
  • Leslie Crouse in Places in the Heart
  • Karen Allen in Starman
  • Glenn Close in The Natural

  • Anjelica Huston in Prizzi’s Honor*
  • Meg Tilly in Agnes of God
  • Kelly McGillis in Witness
  • Margaret Avery in The Color Purple
  • Amy Madigan in Twice in a Lifetime
  • Diane Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters*
  • Cathy Tyson in Mona Lisa
  • Maggie Smith in A Room with a View
  • Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio in The Color of Money
  • Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet
  • Vanessa Redgrave in Prick Up Your Ears
  • Olympia Dukakis in Moonstruck*
  • Shelley Duvall in Roxanne
  • Karen Allen in The Glass Menagerie
  • Kathy Baker in Street Smart
  • Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl
  • Joan Cusack in Working Girl
  • Frances McDormand in Mississippi Burning
  • Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Liaisons
  • Geena Davis in The Accidental Tourist*
  • Dianne Wiest in Parenthood
  • Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias
  • Shirley MacLaine in Steel Magnolias
  • Brenda Fricker in My Left Foot*
  • Anjelica Huston in Crimes and Misdemeanors
  • Annette Bening in The Grifters*
  • Lorraine Bracco in Goodfellas
  • Shirley MacLaine in Postcards from the Edge
  • Diane Ladd in Wild at Heart
  • Mary McDonnell in Dances with Wolves
  • Diane Ladd in Rambling Rose
  • Kate Nelligan in Frankie and Johnny
  • Juliette Lewis in Cape Fear
  • Amanda Plummer in The Fisher King
  • Mercedes Ruehl in The Fisher King*
  • Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny*
  • Miranda Richardson in The Crying Game
  • Joan Plowright in Enchanted April
  • Helena Bonham Carter in Howard’s End
  • Vanessa Redgrave in Howard’s End
  • Winona Ryder in The Age of Innocence
  • Rosie Perez in Fearless
  • Julianne Moore in Short Cuts
  • Madelaine Stowe in Short Cuts
  • Anna Paquin in The Piano*

  • Dianne Wiest in Bullets Over Broadway*
  • Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire
  • Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction
  • Sally Field in Forrest Gump
  • Robin Wright in Forrest Gump
  • Kathleen Quinlan in Apollo 13
  • Sharon Stone in Casino
  • Miro Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite*
  • Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility
  • Joan Allen in Nixon
  • Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire
  • Joan Allen in The Crucible
  • Courtney Love in The People vs. Larry Flynt*
  • Juliette Binoche in The English Patient
  • Dianne Wiest on The Birdcage
  • Julianne Moore in Boogie Nights
  • Joan Cusack in In and Out
  • Kim Basinger in LA Confidential
  • Sarah Polley in The Sweet Hereafter*
  • Alison Stewart in The Wings of the Dove
  • Kathy Bates in Primary Colors*
  • Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love
  • Lynn Redgrave in Gods and Monsters
  • Thandie Newton in Beloved
  • Kimberly Elise in Beloved
  • Julianne Moore in Magnolia*
  • Melora Waters in Magnolia
  • Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted
  • Jane Horrocks in Little Voice
  • Helena Bonham Carter in Fight Club
  • Jennifer Connelly in Requiem for a Dream
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones in Traffic
  • Frances McDormand in Almost Famous
  • Kate Hudson in Almost Famous*
  • Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock
  • Marisa Tomei in In the Bedroom*
  • Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums
  • Scarlett Johansson in Ghost World
  • Kate Winslet in Iris
  • Cameron Diaz in Vanilla Sky
  • Meryl Streep in Adaptation*
  • Kathy Bates in About Schmidt
  • Samantha Morton in Minority Report
  • Michelle Pfeiffer in White Oleander
  • Julianne Moore in The Hours
  • Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain*
  • Natalie Portman in Cold Mountain
  • Holly Hunter in Thirteen
  • Christina Ricci in Monster
  • Marcia Gay Harden in Mystic River
  • Laura Linney in Mystic River

  • Virginia Madsen in Sideways*
  • Sandra Oh in Sideways
  • Cate Blanchett in The Aviator
  • Meryl Streep in The Manchurian Candidate
  • Natalie Portman in Closer
  • Maria Bello in A History of Violence
  • Renee Zellweger in Cinderella Man
  • Scarlett Johansson in Match Point
  • Michelle Williams in Brokeback Mountain
  • Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener*
  • Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls*
  • Rinko Kikuchi in Babel
  • Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal
  • Maggie Gyllenhall in Stranger Than Fiction
  • Julianne Moore in Children of Men
  • Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton*
  • Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone
  • Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd
  • Saoirse Ronan in Atonement
  • Marisa Tomei in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
  • Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Kate Winslet in The Reader
  • Amy Adams in Doubt
  • Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler*
  • Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Monique in Precious*
  • Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air
  • Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air
  • Julianne Moore in A Single Man
  • Penelope Cruz in Nine
  • Kate Hudson in Nine
  • Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech
  • Mila Kunis in Black Swan
  • Amy Adams in The Fighter
  • Melissa Leo in The Fighter
  • Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit*
  • Shailene Woodley in The Descendants*
  • Octavia Spencer in The Help
  • Jessica Chastain in The Help
  • Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs
  • Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids
  • Sally Field in Lincoln
  • Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables*
  • Amy Adams in The Master
  • Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy
  • Shirley MacLaine in Bernie

  • Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave
  • Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle*
  • Julia Roberts in August – Osage County
  • June Squibb in Nebraska
  • Laura Dern in Wild
  • Patricia Arquette in Boyhood*
  • Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year
  • Emma Stone in Birdman
  • Meryl Streep in Into the Woods
  • Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl*
  • Jane Fonda in Youth
  • Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful 8
  • Helen Mirren in Trumbo
  • Michelle Williams in Manchester By the Sea
  • Viola Davis in Fences*
  • Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures
  • Naomi Harris in Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman in Lion
  • Allison Janney in I, Tonya*
  • Hong Chau in Downsizing
  • Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird
  • Rosamund Pike in Hostiles
  • Bria Vinaite in The Florida Project
  • Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water
  • Claire Foy in First Man*
  • Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Rachel Weisz in The Favourite
  • Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place
  • Amy Adams in Vice
  • Laura Dern in Marriage Story
  • Margot Robbie in Bombshell
  • Margot Robbie in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Scarlett Johansson in Jo Jo Rabbit*
  • Jennifer Lopez in Hustler

1 Comment

  • Randy White
    On April 27, 2020 9:10 pm 0Likes

    nope Cloris leachman deserved to win that year.

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