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Top 15: Actresses (Still alive and working)

Criteria (in order of importance)
1. How much does their presence in a movie effect my willingness to watch it. Even if a movie doesn't look great, am I still going to check it out based on her being in it.
2. How interesting are the roles they take on. Are they always playing the lead in romantic comedies (Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock) or do they branch out into different genres, taking roles in interesting films and playing more challenging characters.
3. Acting skills.

15. Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Dunst
The Virgin Suicides (Lux Lisbon)
Interview with the Vampire (Claudia), Wag the Dog (Tracy Lime), Bring it On (Torrance Shipman), Crazy/Beautiful (Nicole Oakley), Spiderman (Mary Jane Watson), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Mary), Elizabethtown (Claire Colburn), Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette)

Another actress kind of like Scarlett Jo that it's been popular to dump on as of late. But I'm not buying it, she hasn't been working much lately. Hopefully it's because she's holding out for some higher quality films and roles.

14. Audrey Tautou
Audrey Tautou
Favorite role - Amelie Poulain (Amelie)
Other great performances - Senay Gelik (Dirty Pretty Things), A Very Long Engagement (Mathilda)

Haven't seen a lot of her films because she primarily works in French films, but anything I have seen with her she always stands out.

13. Uma Thurman
Uma Thurman
Favorite role - Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 (Beatrix Kiddo)
Other great performances - The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Venus/Rose), Mad Dog and Glory (Glory), Pulp Fiction (Mia Wallace), Tape (Amy Randall)

Has been in a string of pretty crap looking films, but her role as the Bride in Kill Bill was the main factor for catapulting her onto this list.

12. Liv Tyler
Liv Tyler
Favorite role - Lonesome Jim (Anika)
One night at McCool's (Jewel Valentine), The Lord of the Rings (Arwen), Jersey Girl (Maya), The Strangers (Kristen McKay), The Incredible Hulk (Betty Ross)

Probably the cutest actress on this list with her voice and mannerisms.

11. Jennifer Connelly
Jennifer Connelly
Favorite Role - Requiem for a Dream (Marion Silver)
Labyrinth (Sarah), The Hot Spot (Gloria Harper), Dark City (Emma Murdoch), Pollock (Ruth Kligman), Hulk (Betty Ross), House of Sand and Fog (Kathy), Little Children (Kathy Anderson), Blood Diamond (Maddy Bowen)

No one plays depressed, ice queen roles like Connelly.

10. Rosario Dawson
Rosario Dawson
Favorite Role - Clerks ll (Becky)
Other great performances - Kids (Ruby), 25th Hour (Naturelle Riviera), Alexander (Roxane), Sin City (Gail), Death Proof (Abernathy), Seven Pounds (Emily Posa)

Doesn't have a great standout role, but she makes any film she's in better and often takes roles in more interesting, edgier films.

9. Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster
Favorite role - The Silence of the Lambs (Clarice Starling)
Other great performances - Taxi Driver (Iris), The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (Sister Assumpta), Panic Room (Meg Altman)

Doesn't work much, but because she's in so little any time she does make a film it's more of a big event. Also she gets bonus marks for being one of the most interesting actors to listen to in interviews and being a part of one of the best audio commentaries of all time (Silence of the Lambs Criterion edition).

8. Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson
Favorite role - Lost in Translation (Charlotte)
The Man Who Wasn't There (Birdy Abundas), Ghost World (Rebecca), In Good Company (Alex), Match Point (Nola Rice), The Prestige (Olivia Wenscombe), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Cristina)

It seems lately it's been popular to bash her compared to early in her career when she was seen as a major up and comer. But I always look forward to seeing her in any film, and overall she still has a really solid track record in the amount of good vs poor films she's been involved in.

7. Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet
Favorite role - Heavenly Creatures (Juliet Hulme)
Other great performances - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Clementine Kruczynski), Finding Neverland (Sylvia Llewelyn Davies), Little Children (Sarah Pierce), The Reader (Hanna Schmitz), Revolutionary Road (April Wheeler)

I recognize her greatness, but she get minus points for being in films that I mostly have little interest in seeing. All the ones I do check out though she's always really good, it's just she's usually hooking up roles in historical period pieces. Not really my cup of tea.

6. Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett
Favorite role - Jude (I'm Not There)
Other great performances - Lord of the Rings (Galadriel), Heaven (Philippa), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Jane Winslett-Richardson), The Aviator (Katharine Hepburn), Notes on a Scandal (Sheba Hart), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Daisy)

Probably the actress with the most skills on this list, or at least she's had the most chances to display them. She absolutely inhabits tough roles like no other actress. Her impersonations of Katherine Hepburn and Bob Dylan stick out to me, but she's amazing in all the films I've ever seen her in.

5. Naomi Watts
Naomi Watts
Favorite role - Eastern Promises (Anna)
Other great performances 6 - Mulholand Dr. (Betty Elms/Diane Selwyn), The Ring (Rachel), 21 Grams (Cristina Peck), I Heart Huckabees (Dawn Campbell), King Kong (Ann Darrow), Funny Games (Ann Farber)

Going through her resume it was hard to pick a real powerhouse performance, she's just really solid in everything she does, and almost everything she does is interesting or cool.

4. Rinko Kikuchi
Rinko Kikuchi
Favorite role - The Brothers Bloom (Bang Bang)
Other great performances - Babel (Chieko Wataya)

I've only seen her in 2 films (I don't think she's been in any other Hollywood films?) and in each she stood out as the best amongst some pretty all star casts (Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt, Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz). In Babel she plays a def girl and she's the only non-def actress amongst her group of actors. There's no way anyone would be able tell, she completely sells it. And as Bang Bang in Brothers Bloom she totally steals the film away from the other actors. I couldn't picture any other actress playing that role as well as her.

3. Christina Ricci
Christina Ricci
Favorite role - Black Snake Moan (Rae)
Other great performances - The Ice Storm (Wendy Hood), Buffalo '66 (Layla), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Lucy), Pumpkin (Carolyn McDuffy)

I like that she often takes roles in some more extreme films and she seems pretty fearless in taking on weirder roles that most mainstream actresses probably wouldn't touch.

2. Penelope Cruz
Penelope Cruz
Favorite role - Volver (Raimunda)
Other great performances - Open Your Eyes (Sofia), All About My Mother (Hermana Rosa), Blow (Mirtha Jung), Vanilla Sky (Sofia Serrano), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Maria Elena), Broken Embraces (Lena)

Her collaborations with Pedro Almodovar represent the greatest director/actress relationship going in film today.

1. Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman
Favorite role - Leon: The Professional (Mathilda)
Other great performances - Heat (Lauren Gustafson), Beautiful Girls (Marty), Garden State (Sam), Closer (Alice), Brothers (Grace Cahill)

Peaked early playing outspoken, mature for their age, witty teens in Leon and Beautiful Girls. Though she hasn't had any roles quite as exciting as then, she has continued to take on challenging roles in cool films (I've completely blocked the Star Wars films from my mind). Probably the actress that influences me the most to go to the theatre. And her next 3 films all look like they could be awesome in totally different ways (Black Swan, Your Highness, and Thor).

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