Oscar recollections: 10 favorite Best Actress winners

Happy Oscar nominations day! I’m a total fiend for award season, so today I’ve decided to kick off a special four-part series of Oscar lists. A list of my favorite Best Actor winners will appear tomorrow, and there will be two more lists in February around the day of this year’s show.

The following is a chronological list of my 10 favorite Best Actress in a Leading Role winners.

Norma Shearer in The Divorcee (via Tumblr)
Norma Shearer in The Divorcee (via Tumblr)

1. Norma Shearer – The Divorcee (3rd winner)
Other nominations: Their Own Desire, A Free Soul, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Romeo and Juliet, Marie Antoinette

2. Claudette Colbert – It Happened One Night (7th winner)
Other nominations: Private Worlds, Since You Went Away

3. Bette Davis – Jezebel (11th winner)
Other nominations: Of Human Bondage, Dangerous (Won), Dark Victory, The Letter, The Little Foxes, Now, Voyager, Mr. Skeffington, All About Eve, The Star, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

4. Ginger Rogers – Kitty Foyle (13th winner)
Other nominations: N/A

5. Ingrid Bergman – Gaslight (17th winner)
Other nominations: For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Anastasia (Won), Murder on the Orient Express (Won, supporting role), Autumn Sonata

6. Jane Wyman – Johnny Belinda (21st winner)
Other nominations: The Yearling, The Blue Veil, Magnificent Obsession

Monty Clift and Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress (via The Redlist)
Monty Clift and Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress (via The Redlist)

7. Olivia de Havilland – The Heiress (22nd winner)
Other nominations: Gone with the Wind (supporting role), Hold Back the Dawn, To Each His Own (Won), The Snake Pit

8. Vivien Leigh – A Streetcar Named Desire (24th winner)
Other nominations: Gone with the Wind (Won)

9. Katherine  Hepburn – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (40th winner)
Other nominations: Morning Glory (Won), Alice Adams, The Philadelphia Story, Woman of the Year, The African Queen, Summertime, The Rainmaker, Suddenly, Last Summer, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, The Lion in Winter (Won – Tied with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl), On Golden Pond (Won)

10. Sissy Spacek – Coal Miner’s Daughter (53rd winner)
Other nominations: Carrie, Missing, The River, Crimes of the Heart, In the Bedroom

This post is a part of the 31 Days of Oscar blogathon! Visit any of the three host blogs for more information!

21 thoughts on “Oscar recollections: 10 favorite Best Actress winners

  1. So happy to see Ginger Rogers on this list. She is celebrated as a dancer but so underrated as an actress in my opinion. Also happy to see Olivia de Havilland here. As Ruth stated, her hair is regrettable. But her performance is awesome. Thanks Lindsey!


      1. I have too…I hope TCM decides to make her Star of the Month soon. I saw so many new-to-me Loretta Young movies in January, and I know she got a few new fans that way..wishing same for Ginger :)


  2. You had me at the title of this post alone, and the next one you entered for this blogathon. How anyone could choose just ten of the so many wonderful performances is a wonder. THEN you actually go and do it. I can’t say I agree with all your choices but they’re great ones. KUDOS!



    1. It was so difficult to choose ten! I considered the entire filmography of each of these winners rather than comparing them to the other nominees in their respective years (because I’m often frustrated with the Academy’s choices, haha).


    1. It isn’t my ultimate favorite performance from her, though it is certainly an interesting film. I actually haven’t seen Morning Glory, The Lion in Winter or On Golden Pond! I didn’t want her to be left off of the list due to my own viewing discrepancies, but I also didn’t want to list her as a “favorite winner” for a film I’ve never seen. Hopefully I’ll get those three watched and my dilemma will be remedied by next Oscar season. :) Thanks for stopping by!


    1. Did you check your local public library? That’s where I found it the first time I watched it, since it doesn’t seem to be available for streaming anywhere. It’s definitely worth owning, though!


        1. I volunteer at my library and a lot of people don’t even realize we have a DVD collection, so I always make a point to mention libraries when people are looking for films haha. Hope you find it! :)


  3. Excellent list! I had to admit, Ginger Rogers in “Kitty Foyle” is one of my favorite Best Actress wins. I think (from what I recall in her autobiography) she was pretty surprised about it. She got a congratulations telegram from Fred Astaire-who had been miffed at her because the whole feathers on the dress ordeal.
    I also just plain love those photos of Ginger and Jimmy Stewart with their statues.


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