Judy Garland – 1939
In a period when Hollywood was still trying to figure out what it really wanted to be, The Wizard of Oz was revolutionary, setting the standard for decades to come. Its star, Judy Garland, couldn’t have been better cast. As a result, she became the first true bankable Hollywood leading lady, even if she was only 17 years old when it was released in 1939.
Lauren Bacall – 1942
While Judy Garland fit and somewhat created the role of the sweet ‘girl-next-door,’ Lauren Bacall certainly spearheaded the leading lady as a sex symbol. Back-to-back roles in film noir staples such as To Have And Have Not, The Big Sleep and Key Largo, cemented her status as a definitive actress of the 1940s, with the help of her husband and co-star Humphrey Bogart.
Rita Hayworth – 1944
Rita Hayworth came onto the scene in The Strawberry Blonde in 1941, though she’s best known for Gilda. Hayworth’s influence extended beyond mere acting. Her image alone, in particular a 1944 photograph in Life magazine, became a pin-up photo for American soldiers overseas during the Second World War.
Ava Gardner – 1946
MGM officially signed in Ava Gardner in 1941 but they didn’t quite know what to do with her until 1946’s The Killers, which shot her to instant fame. She landed better roles in The Hucksters, Show Boat and The Snows of Kilimanjaro. A later role in 1953’s Mogambo earned her one and only Oscar nomination.
Doris Day – 1950
After a successful singing career in the 1940s, Doris Day went on to become one of Hollywood’s stars of the 50s and 60s. Day worked with some of the era’s most distinguished directors and stars, including Alfred Hitchcock, Clark Cable, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and Kirk Douglas. The actress starred in 39 feature films across a diverse range of genres including comedy, thriller and drama, with career highlights including Pillow Talk, The Man Who Knew too Much and Calamity Jane.
Marilyn Monroe – 1955
Though there were more leading ladies in ’50s Hollywood than you could shake a stick at, it’s hard to associate any other with the era as much we do Marilyn Monroe. Her roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like It Hot and How To Marry a Millionaire made a global sensation. Yet this level of celebrity never sat well with the troubled Monroe, who died in 1962 at the age of just 36.
Ursula Andress – 1960
A Swedish actress and model, Ursula Andress became a global sex symbol with her role as Honey Ryder in 1962’s Dr. No. Although the film marked the peak of Andress’ acting career, she appeared in a number of other movies throughout the rest of the 60s, and will forever hold the distinction of being the first Bond girl.
Audrey Hepburn – 1961
The timid actress turned philanthropist Audrey Hepburn was 24 years old when she made a mark on Hollywood in 1953’s Roman Holiday opposite Gregory Peck. Largely overshadowed by the legion of other starlets of the decade, Hepburn didn’t truly cement her place in film history until 1961’s hugely successful Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Natalie Wood – 1962
Natalie Wood began acting as a child, landing a co-starring role in Miracle on 34th Street at the age of eight, and earning her first Academy Award nomination a few years later with her performance in 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause. The 60s saw Wood’s career continue to flourish, with roles in West Side Story, Gypsy, Love with the Proper Stranger and Splendor in the Grass, for she was nominated for another Academy Award.
Elizabeth Taylor – 1963
Elizabeth Taylor is one of the few child actors who is never really remembered as such. This is thanks to one or two hugely iconic films she made on the cusp of middle age. First there was Cleopatra, at the time (1963) the most expensive film ever made. And then Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1965, alongside her then and future husband Richard Burton.
Sophia Loren – 1964
Born into poverty, Sophia Loren’s rise to fame is remarkable. In lots of ways American audience’s first taste of European sensibilities, Loren’s role in 1961’s Two Women won her the Oscar for Best Actress. Following that was Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow as well as Marriage, Italian Style. Loren more or less retired from the bright lights after her 60s heyday but her image endures to this day.
Jacqueline Bisset – 1965
British actress Jacqueline Bisset began her acting career in 1965 and was soon landing roles in some of the biggest films of the decade, including The Detective, Bullitt and The Sweet Ride, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. Bisset continued to take Hollywood by storm in the 70s, appearing in a number of highly successful films and winning an Academy Award for her performance in Le Magnifique.
Claudia Cardindale – 1966
Born into poverty in Tunis, Claudia Cardindale won the “Most Beautiful Italian Girl in Tunisia” contest at the age of 17, the prize for which was a trip to Italy. This trip resulted in Cardindale catching the attention of Italian film executives, and she was soon one of the best known actresses in Italy. In the 60s, Cardindale made the leap to Hollywood, appearing in films including The Pink Panther, Blindfold, The Professionals and Once Upon a Time in the West. Eventually, the actress grew disillusioned with Hollywood and returned to Italy, spending the rest of her career starring in European movies.
Brigitte Bardot – 1967
As the tide turned, and European films caught attention for their daring storylines and imagery (free from the conservative restraints of Hollywood), more and more leading ladies emerged across the pond. The most popular of these was Brigitte Bardot, who, unlike Marilyn Monroe, had the Sexual Revolution on her side. The French star quit acting to focus on animal rights activism in 1973.
Julie Christie – 1968
Described as “the thinking man’s sex symbol,” British actress Julie Christie found success on TV in the late 50s before embarking on a film career. A wildly popular actress during the 60s, Christie generally eschewed Hollywood blockbusters in favour of independent, edgier films, such as 1965’s Darling, which saw her pick up an Oscar. However, the actress did dabble in the mainstream from time to time, most notably with a role in David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago.
Raquel Welch – 1969
With all due respect to Miss Welch, she was never considered a great actress, but you don’t really need when you have pure star power – something she had in spades. Famous for her roles in One Million Years B.C., Bedazzled, Fathom and even 2001’s Legally Blonde, Welch won the hearts of many movie-goers. Mostly teenage boys.
Goldie Hawn – 1970
After rising to prominence on comedy series Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In in the late 60s, Goldie Hawn crossed into Hollywood in the 70s with a number of starring roles in films including The Heist, Butterflies Are Free and The Sugarland Express. The 80s were less kind to the actress, seeing her appear in a number of disastrous box office failures, but in the 90s Hawn got her career back on track.
Jane Fonda – 1971
Jane Fonda, fitness videos aside, is mostly remembered as a fierce civil rights and anti-war activist during her early years in Hollywood back in the late 1960s and 1970s, strongly opposing the United States role in the Vietnam War. But she was also churning out top performances in top films, notably Klute and Coming Home, winning Oscars for both.
Barbara Hershey – 1972
Barbara Hershey’s acting career began while she was still a teenager in the 60s, with a number of relatively minor roles in TV shows and films. The actress got her break when she landed a starring role in Martin Scorsese’s Boxcar Bertha, turning in a performance that earned her global recognition. After a lull in her career during the late 70s (in which time she was married to David Carradine and changed her name to Barbara Seagull), Hershey came back in the 80s with a string of hits that saw the Chicago Tribune declare her ‘one of America’s finest actresses’.
Pam Grier – 1973
Pam Grier became a femme fatale for a highly underrepresented minority in America with a series of blaxploitation films in the early to mid-1970s. The Big Bird Cage, Coffy, Foxy Brown and Sheba Baby were equally beloved as they were reviled by stuffy critics who refused to take her popularity seriously. Quentin Tarantino later revived her career in 1997’s Jackie Brown.
Faye Dunaway – 1974
Though Faye Dunaway’s breakthrough role was in 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde, it was in the 1970s that she really took a hold of the film industry, starring in Chinatown, The Towering Inferno and Network all within a two-year frame. Dunaway ruled the roost and was rewarded with an Academy Award for her efforts in 1977.
Diane Keaton – 1975
After making her stage debut in the 1968 Broadway production of the musical Hair, Diane Keaton landed a few minor film roles before getting her break in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. Keaton frequently collaborated with Woody Allen throughout the rest of the 70s, starring in Play It Again, Sam, Sleeper, Love and Death – and most famously 1977’s Annie Hall, which earned Keaton the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in the title role.
Barbara Streisand – 1976
After a decade on stage in musical theatre, Barbara Streisand finally combined love of film and song in 1973 with The Way We Were. It earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Three years later, she produced and starred in A Star is Born which ended up winning six Golden Globe awards.
Carrie Fisher – 1977
Although Return of the Jedi gets a lot of flak for its unnecessary sexualisation of Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia still remains one the strongest women in sci-fi, which is impressive considering A New Hope was released in 1977. After she finished working on the original Star Wars trilogy, Fisher largely eschewed leading roles in favour of writing, although she still appeared in a number of films including When Harry Met Sally, Soapdish and The Women.
Olivia Newton-John – 1978
Olivia Newton-John may not have had the most eclectic and impressive acting CV, but one role was enough to secure her spot in pop cultural history. In 1978, she starred as the diffident and charming Sandy in the film adaptation of the musical Grease. 1980’s Xanadu was less of a success but from it she launched a very successful music career.
Meryl Streep – 1979
Meryl Streep was fairly happy on the stage in the 1960s. It wasn’t until the 1970s that she made the jump over to film, and boy did it pay off. The Deer Hunter, Manhattan, Kramer vs Kramer and Sophie’s Choice all within the space of three years. Casting Streep was like printing money.
Sigourney Weaver – 1980
Sigourney Weaver never saw herself as a leading lady, or just anyone capable of starring in films for that matter. Regardless, she was cast in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi-horror epic Alien and the rest is history. She went on to star in Aliens, Ghostbusters and Working Girl. Recently, she’s more known for her role in Avatar.
Joan Chen – 1981
After bursting onto the Chinese cinema scene in the late 1970s, Joan Chen went on to achieve international fame during the 80s with starring roles in The Last Emperor (a film that racked up nine Academy Awards), The Blood of Heroes and The Night Stalker. Chen’s success continued throughout the 90s and 00s, with the actress regularly starring in both Chinese and Hollywood movies.
Oprah Winfrey – 1982
Oprah Winfrey’s incredible success as a TV host has overshadowed the fact that, at one point, she was a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. Winfrey has appeared in a number of films, most notably 1985’s The Color Purple, turning in a powerful performance that earned her an Oscar nomination.
Michelle Pfeiffer – 1983
To say she started the 1980s in the critically-panned Grease 2, it’s amazing that Michelle Pfeiffer ended up defining the era. In 1983, she starred opposite Al Pacino in Scarface as the drug-addicted trophy wife of Tony Montana. She ended the decade with The Fabulous Baker Boys for which she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.
Jennifer Beals – 1984
Although her career never reached the lofty heights of some of the other actresses on this list, Jennifer Beals was still one of the most popular actresses of the 80s, thanks to roles in films including My Bodyguard, The Bride and Vampire’s Kiss. The highlight of Beals’ career came with 1983’s Flashdance, a resounding commercial success that saw the actress awarded for a Golden Globe.
Molly Ringwald – 1985
Molly Ringwald may have fallen out of favour since her peak in the 1980s but what a peak it was. Her role in Sixteen Candles kicked things off in 1984 as the lovably awkward Samantha Baker. John Hughes then cast her again the next year in The Breakfast Club which grossed over $5 million in its first weekend.
Jamie Lee Curtis – 1986
After getting her Hollywood break as the ultimate final girl in Halloween, John Carpenter’s horror masterpiece, Jamie Lee Curtis forged a highly successful career as on the most iconic scream queens of the late 70s. In the 80s, Curtis transitioned from horror to comedy, earning BAFTA nominations and awards for her leading roles in Freaky Friday and A Fish Called Wanda.
Holly Hunter – 1987
Holly Hunter began her career on the stage in the early 80s after getting trapped in an elevator with playwright Beth Henley. After making her film debut in the slasher flick The Burning, Hunter landed a number of supporting roles before getting her big break in 1987’s Broadcast News. The actress was nominated for an Academy Award for her role, with the film marking the start of her career as a critically celebrated star. She later won the Best Actress Oscar for 1993’s The Piano.
Jodie Foster – 1988
After a promising early career that saw her earn an Oscar nomination for her role in Taxi Driver, Jodie Foster made the unusual decision to leave Hollywood in pursuit of an education, studying African-American literature at Yale. When the actress returned to the silver screen she did so in style, earning an Academy Award for her performance in 1988’s The Accused. Foster soon added another Oscar to her collection with a starring role in The Silence of the Lambs, frequently considered one of the greatest movies ever made.
Meg Ryan – 1989
There’s a lot to be said about playing to your strengths; although she never really ventured beyond romcoms, Meg Ryan absolutely dominated the genre in the late 80s and 90s. The actress got her big break in 1989’s When Harry Met Sally and followed up with starring roles in the most iconic romcoms of the next ten years, including Sleepless in Seattle, French Kiss and You’ve Got Mail.
Demi Moore – 1990
Demi Moore had her first taste of fame when she squeezed herself onto the soap opera General Hospital in her teenage years. She later starred among the brat pack ensemble cast in St Elmo’s Fire. But her stand-out role was something she had to wait another few years for. In 1990, Ghost put Moore on the map, cementing her status as an A-lister.
Susan Sarandon – 1991
Although she had been firmly established in Hollywood since the 70s, Susan Sarandon didn’t her leading lady stride until the 90s. The actress starred in some of the decade’s most iconic movies, including Thelma & Louise and The Client, both of which saw her nominated for Oscars. Sarandon finally clinched the award in 1995 with her performance in Dead Man Walking.
Sharon Stone – 1992
Total Recall was arguably Sharon Stone’s first big role in film, though 1992’s Basic Instinct shot her up to dizzying heights. A few years later, Martin Scorsese cast her opposite Robert De Niro in his Las Vegas epic Casino, for which Stone earned an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination.
Whoopi Goldberg – 1993
Whoopi Goldberg is an EGOT. A winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award. If that doesn’t make producers’ eyes turn into dollar signs, nothing will. Goldberg broke out in The Colour Purple but her most cherished role is probably in Sister Act, which was released almost a decade later!
Sandra Bullock – 1994
Sandra Bullock is still a helpful companion of the box office what with fairly recent turns in smash hits Gravity and Bird Box. But her big break came in 1994, starring alongside Keanu Reeves in Speed. While You Were Sleeping and A Time To Kill were released shortly after, both of which made a huge profits and a household name out of Bullock.
Gwyneth Paltrow – 1995
Most audiences were introduced to Gwyneth Paltrow – who’d been working as an actor since childhood – in the David Fincher thriller Se7en in 1995. The rest of the decade saw her earn acclaim in Emma, Great Expectations, A Perfect Murder and finally Shakespeare in Love, for which she (if controversially) won the Best Actress Oscar.
Nicole Kidman – 1996
Although Nicole Kidman’s career arguably didn’t hit full stride until the 2000s, the actress still turned in a number of great leading performances in the second half of the 90s. Some of the films the actress starred in include Batman Forever, To Die For and Eyes Wide Shut. In 2002, Kidman’s portrayal of the brilliant author Virginia Woolfe in The Hours earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Kate Winslet – 1997
When Kate Winslet starred in Keneth Branagh’s Hamlet in 1996, it’s strange to think she was virtually unknown. Then within a year, starring as Rose DeWitt in James Cameron’s hugely successful blockbuster Titanic, you couldn’t pick up any celebrity magazine or channel without seeing her face. She earned an Oscar nomination for the role and an immediate spot on the Hollywood A-list.
Winona Ryder – 1998
Although her career tailed off somewhat after the dawn of the new millennium, Winona Ryder was one of the most dominant stars of the 90s. After landing a leading role in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, Ryder went on to star in a slew of commercially and critically successful films, including Edward Scissorhands, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Little Women and Age of Innocence, for which she earned an Oscar nomination.
Julia Roberts – 1999
Julia Roberts is synonymous with the 1990s. Her first major role was opposite Richard Gere as a prostitute in the critically acclaimed Pretty Woman. After that, came rom-com classics My Best Friend’s Wedding and Notting Hill. She kicked off the new millennium on a high with Erin Brockovich, for which she was paid a whopping $20 million; it also bagged Roberts an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Cameron Diaz – 2000
Cameron Diaz worked as a model for Calvin Klein before wowing audiences with her iconic performance in The Mask opposite Jim Carrey. Black comedy Being John Malkovich came calling next, and then the silver screen Charlie’s Angels reboot. She also holds a special place in many people’s hearts for providing the voice of Princess Fiona in the Shrek films.
Halle Berry – 2001
Halle Berry is a former beauty queen turned actress. She became the first African American woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in 2001’s Monster Ball. The following year she starred in Bond film Die Another Day and the horror Gothika. Berry continues to land great, challenging roles to this day, though she isn’t the blockbusting household name she was back in the Noughties.
Natalie Portman – 2002
In 2004, Portman starred in the romantic comedy Garden State and delivered a Golden Globe-winning performance in Closer, directed by Mike Nichols and co-starring Clive Owen, Roberts and Jude Law. Portman also won critical praise for her role in 2006’s dystopian fantasy V for Vendetta. That’s not even mentioning her turn in the global smash hit Star Wars prequel trilogy, which dented her reputation but still brought home the bacon.
Keira Knightley – 2003
No disrespect to Bend It Like Beckham, but Disney taking a punt on Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean remains her career highlight. That isn’t to say Keira didn’t star in anything of worth after. Her performances in Atonement and Anna Karenina garnered much praise, and she even earned an Oscar nomination for The Imitation Game, starring as Alan Turing’s one-time fiancée and fellow mathematician Joan Clarke.
Angelina Jolie – 2004
By the time the millennium rolled around, the idea of the leading lady was pretty much redundant. Times were changing, attitudes were improving. Female actors were no longer comfortable with just being the beguiling beauty. They wanted to use guns and kill bad guys. Enter Angelina Jolie, whose turn in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider ushered in a new era of leading ladies.
Reese Witherspoon – 2005
After breaking into Hollywood at the tail end of the 90s with roles in Election and Cruel Intentions, Reese Witherspoon established herself as a household name with her performance in 2001’s Legally Blonde. Although the film is arguably still her most iconic, in 2005 the actress proved that she is capable of handling darker subject matter with her performance in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, for which she wont a Best Actress Oscar.
Anne Hathaway – 2006
The Princess Diaries was Anne Hathaway’s first big film, but the success of 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada cannot be overstated. The following year she starred in Becoming Jane, a biopic of Jane Austen. Her role in Les Miserables, in which she followed in her mother’s footsteps by playing Fantine, won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a succession of highly-paid roles across her career, including a turn as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises.
Penélope Cruz – 2007
Arguably the most famous Spanish actress of all time, Penélope Cruz has earned critical acclaim for her work in both American and Spanish cinema. After breaking through in her native Spain in the 90s with Jamón Jamón and Open Your Eyes, Cruz broke through in the US with Blow and Vanilla Sky (an Open Your Eyes remake). Her biggest moment came in 2008’s Vicky Christina Barcelona, which won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Kristen Stewart – 2008
Kristen Stewart proved her acting chops as a kid opposite Jodie Foster in 2002’s Panic Room, but it wasn’t until the release of vampire love story Twilight in 2008 that she went stratospheric. Reluctant to be seen as a “Hollywood star” Stewart became just as famous for her distant, curt personality as for her A-list status.
Jennifer Aniston – 2009
Most stars of a sitcom find it hard to break free from their character and embark on a convincing movie career. Jennifer Aniston is maybe the greatest to ever do it, even if there have been a few stinkers along the way. She remains one of the highest-paid actresses working thanks to her turns in Bruce Almighty, Along Came Polly, Rumour Has It and Horrible Bosses.
Amanda Seyfried – 2010
Amanda Seyfried decided to skip university to star in 2004’s iconic teen comedy Mean Girls; a bold move, but undoubtedly the right one. After spending several years on the HBO series Big Love, Seyfried returned to the silver screen with a run of starring roles including Mamma Mia!, Jennifer’s Body, Dear John, Letters to Juliet, Red Riding Hood, In Time and Les Misérables.
Emma Stone – 2011
The late noughties were very good to Emma Stone. First she starred opposite Jonah Hill and Michael Cera in 2007’s Superbad. Then she starred opposite Woody Harrelson in 2009’s cult zombie favourite Zombieland. Critics praised her performances in Easy A, The Help, and Crazy, Stupid, Love, which were all released within a year. Now that’s box office domination.
Rooney Mara – 2012
After appearing in a number of independent films and television shows, Rooney Mara got her break in 2010 with a supporting role in David Fincher’s The Social Network. One year later, Olsen became a household name thanks to another Fincher flick, this time portraying Lisbeth Salander in the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a role which earned her an Academy Award nomination.
Margot Robbie – 2013
Margot Robbie was primarily known as an Aussie soap star when she burst onto the scene in 2013 as the ball-busting wife of crooked trader Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. Her portrayal of figure skater Tonya Harding in 2017 won the Academy Award for Best Actress. But with roles in Tarzan and The Suicide Sqaud, Robbie made it clear she was just as effective in lucrative blockbusters as she was in serious dramas.
Jennifer Lawrence – 2014
Jennifer Lawrence slid onto the scene with the humble likes of Winter’s Bone before dipping all of her toes into the blockbuster scene with X-Men: First Class. But when she took the role of Katniss Everdeen in the adaptation of The Hunger Games books, she became a household name. Not tied down by popcorn movies, she then won an Academy Award for her role in Silver Linings Playbook in 2012.
Emily Blunt – 2015
Emily Blunt overcame a childhood stutter to pursue an incredibly successful acting career, starting on the stage in 2001 before moving into TV and finally taking Hollywood by storm. Blunt’s big break came with a supporting role in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada, with the actress bagging a BAFTA in the process. After a string of leading roles in the early 2010s, Blunt turned in critically acclaimed performances in The Girl on the Train and A Quiet Place, earning another BAFTA, this time for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Amy Adams – 2016
Amy Adams is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, with good reason; the awards she’s snagged include two Golden Globes, six Academy Awards, seven BFI Awards and two Emmys. The latter half of the 2010s saw Adams star in a number of critically acclaimed films including American Hustle, Big Eyes, Arrival and Vice, and she’s no slouch when it comes to TV either, having starred in the HBO miniseries Sharp Objects.
Scarlett Johansson – 2017
Scarlett Johansson began acting from a super young age, with a core role in Home Alone 3, and was making acclaimed cinema with the likes of Lost In Translation in her late teens. But in terms of being a bankable actor, she had to wait until 2012’s The Avengers in which she played Black Widow. After that, came Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame… basically most blockbusters released in the last decade.
Cate Blanchett – 2018
In 2018, Cate Blanchett proved that – at the age of 53 – she wasn’t done being a leading lady just yet. After rising to fame 20 years earlier with an Oscar nominated role in Elizabeth, Blanchett became one of the most celebrated actresses of her generation, consistently turning in critically acclaimed performances. Ocean’s 8 and The House with a Clock in its Walls, both starring Blanchett and both released in 2018, certified the actress as one of the greatest leading ladies to ever do it.
Anya Taylor-Joy – 2019
Anya Taylor-Joy dropped out of school at the age of 16 to pursue a career in acting, and it’s safe to say the decision paid off. After a number of minor roles, Taylor-Joy gave a breakthrough performance in 2015’s The Witch, following up with starring roles in Split, Glass and Thoroughbreds. The actress also received critical acclaim for her portrayal of a troubled chess prodigy in the 2020 Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit.
Zendaya – 2020
Zendaya landed her first acting role on the Disney Channel comedy series Shake It Up back in 2010. She made another with the company, K.C. Undercover, as well as a self-titled album in 2013 before breaking free and getting into film. At the end of the 2010s, she starred in Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman. Right now, you can find her on Euphoria.
Elizabeth Olsen – 2021
In 2015, Elizabeth Olsen proved that she wholeheartedly deserved the BAFTA Rising Star Award she had been awarded two years prior, becoming a household name thanks to her role as Scarlet Witch in the Avengers franchise. The actress also recently starred in a spin off miniseries – WandaVision – which saw her nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe.
Florence Pugh – 2022
After making a splash on British TV in 2016 with Marcella, Florence Pugh broke into Hollywood with a starring role in Ari Aster’s Midsommar. Since then the actress has gone from strength to strength, becoming a household name with her performance in the 2021 superhero movie Black Widow and the Marvel spinoff series Hawkeye. 2022 saw Pugh star in not one but two films, Don’t Worry Darling and The Wonder, both of which earned her critical praise.
Ana De Armas – 2023
It may be a little early to call given that the year isn’t over yet, but by the looks of things, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better candidate for leading lady of the year than Ana de Armas. This Cuban actress is perhaps best known for her role as Bond girl Paloma in No Time To Die. She’s also the only entry on this list to have played another historic leading lady, bringing to life the controversial career of Marilyn Monroe in Netflix’s Blonde.