Top 50 best French actresses of all time

Not long ago we asked you to answer the heated question: who is the best French actor? Naturally, as we do things well, this time we focus on the actresses. In this ranking you will therefore find the crème de la crème of French actresses, and you will not find all those who have not been put in this ranking for reasons relating to our mood.

best French actresses

Catherine Deneuve

Dame Catherine, the queen, 60 years of career, from Jacques Demy to Truffaut via Luis Buñuel, Téchiné. The only one who can compete with her is good old Gégé, with whom she formed the legendary couple of Dernier Métro (François Truffaut, 1980).

Catherine Deneuve

Marion Cotillard

Who would have thought that Samy Naceri’s girlfriend in Taxi, would die in Shakespearean fashion years later facing Batman? A great career and a “beautiful person” who excels as much in drama (Of rust and bones, Jacques Audiard, 2012) as in comedy (Rock n’Roll, Guillaume Canet, 2017).

Marion Cotillard

Sophie Marceau

The fiancée of French cinema, eternal Vic de La Boum (Claude Pinoteau, 1980) had a sensational start to her career in front of the camera by Maurice Pialat (Police, 1985) and Bertrand Tavernier (La fille de d’Artagnan< a i=6>, 1994). Her second part of her career did not allow her to experience great success apart from her role as mother in LOL by Liza Azuelos (2009).< /span>

Emmanuelle Béart

One of the greatest actresses of the 90s, revealed in Manon des sources by Claude Berri (1986), Claude’s last muse Sautet (A heart in winter, 1992) (Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud , 1995), Emmanuelle Béart abandoned film sets in the 2010s to devote herself to theater with Stanislas Nordey’s troupe. 2021 saw his return to cinema in the lovely film L’Etreinte by Ludovic Bergery.

Yolande Moreau

Superstar of the great Canal + period with the Deschiens gang, we almost forgot that the Belgian Yolande Moreau (yes we cheated, not being French she should not have been in this top, but for Yolande we are ready to flout all the rules) was above all a great actress having started with Agnès Varda (Without roof nor law, 1985). But it was the films of Grolandais Délépine and Kervern that gave him his best roles (Louise Michel, 2008)(Mammuth, 2010)(I Feel Good, 2018).

The César Academy awarded her three prizes as best actress in Séraphine by Martin Provost (2008) and (2005).When the sea rises…

Leila Bekhti

Discovered in Sheitan (Kim Shapiron, 2005) and in A Prophet< a i=4> (Jacques Audiard, 2008) Bekhti became essential in the comedy All That Shines by Géraldine Nakache and Hervé Mimran in 2010. Since then she has been juggling as well in dramas The of Women (Radu Mihaileanu, 2011) (Sweet song< a i=10>, Lucie Borleteau, 2019) as well as in social comedies (The class struggle, Michel Leclerc, 2019) ( < a i=13>Le Grand bain, Gilles Lellouche, 2018). Recently, Leila impressed us as a psychotically funny candidate in Jonathan Coen’s schoolboy series, Laflame (Canal +, 2020)

Isabelle Huppert

If there is an actress who can rival Catherine Deneuve as a French cinema icon, it is Isabelle Huppert. Regularly cited as the greatest actress by many people in the profession (Nicole Kidman, Jessica Chastain, Julianne Moore) Isabelle Huppert stands out for her falsely detached acting and for her demanding film choices and boderline characters. We remember her interpretations for Claude Chabrol of Violette Noziere (1978), as an angel maker in Une affair of women (1988), of a murderous postwoman in La Cérémonie (1995). The Pianist by Michael Haneke (2002) and She by Paul Verhoven ( 2016) will allow him to win an avalanche of awards. Like Deneuve, Huppert doesn’t seem ready to retire and that’s a good thing.

Chantal Lauby

This “loser” was one of the first actresses to prove that a woman could have comic genius without playing to the advantage of her male colleagues, even more so by illustrating herself in schoolboy humor as we have was able to see him in the cult hit The City of Fear in 1995. Since then, Chantal Lauby has become ultra bankable with the future trilogy What have we done to the good Lord? and even tried his hand at directing with the very touching Leave your hands on my hips (2002).

Audrey Tautou

Audrey Tautou is the example of an actress who exploded thanks to an iconic role (Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, 2001 ) and who has since chosen her roles meticulously and is rare in the cinema (one film per year more or less) and in the media (virtually absent from film promotion). And it’s a shame because we would like to see our favorite Martine (Klapish trilogy) more often.

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Daughter of a certain Serge, cabaret singer (personally I don’t know) Charlotte Gainsbourg began her career early at the age of 14 with L’Effrontée< /span>, 2001) Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu (, 2011) (.Lux Aeterna, 2013). Recently, Charlotte Gainsbourg saw herself immolated for a long time in front of Gaspard Noé’s camera in the infernal NymphomaniacMelancholia, 2003) and Lars Van Trier (21 GrammesMy wife is an actress by Claude Miller. Since then, she has dragged her pout and her sweet voice into the films of Yvan Attal (

Sylvie Testud

Actress, director, successful novelist, Sylvie Testud has been in French cinema for over 20 years and left her mark with her role as Amelie Nothomb in “Stupeur et Tremors” by Alain Corneau (2003) or as Sister Papin in Les Blessures assassines by Jean-Pierre Denis (2000). For several years, Sylvie Testud has alternated roles on the big and small screen with the same brilliance.

Camille Cottin

Now a must-have, Camille Cottin has enjoyed dazzling notoriety since her role as a ruthless agent in the series Ten percent by Fanny Herrero. The one who started on stage with Pierre Palmade’s troupe first played the Connasse in hidden cameras on Canal + before making her mark in the cinema in comedies. A former English teacher, Camille Cottin quickly appealed to American cinema, which noticed her and hired her on television (Killing Eve, Phoebe Waller Bridge) and in the cinema recently opposite Matt Damon in Stillwater (Thomas McCarthy, 2021) or in the latest Ridley Scott, (2021).House of Gucci

Fanny Ardant

Fanny Ardant is one of the rare actresses whose voice is more easily imitated by men than by women. And for good reason, its grain is identifiable very quickly by its depth and its sustained exhalation. However, Fanny Ardant is not just a voice, she is also the formidable actress in François Truffaut’s latest films (The Woman Next Door , 1981 and Can’t wait for Sunday!, 1983) comedies Ridiculeby Patrice Leconte and Pédale Douce by Gabriel Aghion (1996) and recently, she shines opposite Daniel Auteuil in La Belle Epoque by Nicolas Bedos (2018) which will earn him his second César.

Juliette Binoche

She is perhaps the most international of our actresses. Juliette Binoche has toured with Leos Carax, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Michael Haneke, Hou Hsiao-hsien, David Cronenberg and recently in Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla and in the Ghost in the Shell by Rupert Sanders. It’s hard to have a more eclectic career than this one. Juliette Binoche plows her path by always being where she is least expected. His best role? Probably in Sils Maria by Olivier Assayas in 2014 where she plays… an actress.

Josiane Balasko

Aaah Josie! Screening 3 films per year on average, Josiane Balasko is a real workaholic. She alternates leading and supporting roles, big and small budgets. At the same time, Josiane writes novels and plays in which she plays, we wonder what she can do with her free time. Well we know, she helps the most deprived by taking care of associations for undocumented immigrants and when she has a little time left, she plays video games and spends her nights on < a i=1>Age of Empire. Do you know anyone cooler than that?

Laure Calamy

A new leading actress in recent years, Laure Calamy has solid experience on the stage but is revealing herself to the general public like her colleague Camille Cottin in the series Dix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centDix pour centTen pour centDix pour cent (Caroline Vignal, 2020), an unexpected success for this wonderful comedy in which we discover her on a walking introspection accompanied by a donkey.Antoinette dans les Cévennes by Fanny Herrero. Sparkling, even exalted at times, Laure Calamy lights up all the films in which we find her in recent years. A supporting role for a long time, she is now at the top of the bill thanks to the success of

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi

In addition to being the sister-in-law of a former president of the republic, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi has unfairly played the intellectual actress, Parisian for more than thirty years, having played in films like Those who love me will take the train< /span> by Catherine Corsini where she once again plays a bobo, but which allows her to deliver a remarkable, full performance. humor and tenderness.La Fracture (2007). Recently, she burst onto the screen in Actresses ( 2003), It is easier for a camel by François Ozon (2004). But this is to forget her great comic power and her self-deprecation which she shows us in her own achievements: 5×2 by Patrice Chéreau (1998) or by Laurence Ferreira Barbosa in 1992, Normal people have nothing exceptional

Karin Viard

Karin Viard is known to the general public for her major comic roles in Tatie Danielle by Etienne Chatillez (1990), Les Randonneurs by Philippe Harel (1997) or Potiche by François Ozon (2010). She turns out to be hilarious as an actress with aspirations of an American career in Le Bal des actresses by Maïwenn (2009) and poignant as a mother in denial in a> by Andréa Bescond and Eric Métayer (2018).Les Chatouilles

Bérénice Béjo

Revealed in 2000 in Best Female Promising by Gérard Jugnot, she did not win the César for Most Promising Female for which she was nominated . On the other hand, she won the César for her silent role in The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius in 2011. Since then we have been able to see the extent of her acting in < /span>by Asghar Farhadi (2013).The Past

Léa Seydoux

It’s been difficult to miss Léa Seydoux in recent years. Since her performance prize at Cannes for The Life of Adèle in 2013 (Abdellatif Kechiche), Léa Seydoux has betrayed Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), seduces James Bond in No Time to Die in 2021 (Cary Joji Fukunaga) and posed nude for Benicio Del Toro in The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson (2021).

Noémie Merlant

Noémie Merlant is one of the rising actresses of French cinema. Screening 3 films per year for several years, we have seen her as a young girl wanting to go and wage jihad in Heaven Will Wait by Marie -Castille Mention-Schaar (2016), in love with a carousel in Jumbo by Zoé Wittock (2020) or in the latest film by Jacques Audiard in 2021 (The Olympics).

Carole Bouquet

The cold beauty of cinema, Carole Bouquet appears for the first time in the film that will make her superstar overnight: This obscure object of desire by Luis Buñuel (1977). Since then, she has been cuckolded by Depardieu for Balasko in Trop belle pour toi by Bertrand Blier (1989), played her own role in a> by Toledano and Nakache for Arte in 2021.In therapy by Michel Blanc (1994) and becomes a therapist in Grosse fatigue

Valérie Bonneton

When she started with Dany Boon in television sketches, Valérie Bonneton did not think she would become the viewers’ favorite mother for 10 years in the series Don’t do this, do it not that on France 2. She reunites with Dany Boon in Eyjafjallajökull by Alexandre Coffre (2013) and turns in the successful diptych by Guillaume Canet Les Petits Mouchoirs (2010) and We will end up together (2019).

Elodie Bouchez

Less present in the cinema in recent years, Elodie Bouchez was the essential actress of the 90s/2000s. She was revealed to the general public in The Dream Life of Angels by Erisk Zonca in (1998), filming Abdellatif Kechiche’s first film: by Jeanne Herry in 2018.Pupille and will return in a moving role as an adoptive mother in The L Word and Alias by James Huth alongside Jean Dujardin. She attempted a foray into Hollywood in the series Brice de Nice (2000) and tries his hand at comedy in La Faute à Voltaire

Michèle Laroque

LOL. There must be a bug in the ranking, but OK why not.

Chiara Mastroianni

No need for a DNA test for Chiara Mastroianni, she is the perfect symbiosis of her parents. She will also start alongside her mother in My favorite season by André Téchiné (1993) and her father in Ready-to-wear by Robert Altman (1994). She toured six times with Christophe Honoré and got the leading role in his last film Chambre 212 (2019).

Ana Girardot

Ana Girardot is noticed in her first film Simon Werner has disappeared… by Fabrice Gobert in 2010 before becoming one of the leading roles films by Cédric Klapisch: What binds us (2017) and Deux moi (2019). Recently, we saw her as an unloved candidate in the series La Flamme opposite Jonathan Cohen.

Simone Signoret

Icon of post-war cinema, Simone Signoret was, like Jean Gabin, the figure of the actress embodying the woman of the people, with a strong character. One of his most notable roles was that of Golden Helmet in the eponymous film by Jacques Becker (1952). A politically engaged actress alongside her husband Yves Montand, she is unforgettable in the role of Mathilde, the radical resistance fighter in The Army of Shadows by Jean- Pierre Melville (1969).

Aïssa Maïga

In spite of herself, and rightly so, she became the actress and spokesperson for the representation of Black people in French cinema (with the essay Noire n’est not my job published in 2018); Aïssa Maïga became known to the general public in Russian Dolls by Cédric Klapisch (2004). She reunited with Romain Duris in L’Âge d’homme… now or never! by Raphaël Fejtö and distinguished herself in the cinema in He already has your eyes by Lucien Jean-Baptiste in 2017 before starring in the television adaptation in 2020.

Melanie Laurent

Mélanie Laurent made herself known to the general public the same year in 2006 with two diametrically opposed films: I’m fine, don’t worry< a i=2> by Philippe Lioret and Dikkenek by Olivier Van Hoofstadt. She became one of the main roles inInglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino in 2009 before directing her first film in 2011:The Adoptees. Since Mélanie Laurent alternates between comedy and directing, her latest film Le Bal des Folles is currently available on Amazon Prime.

Louise Bourgoin

From Canal + weather miss to medical intern, this is how to roughly summarize the career of Louise Bourgoin. It was Anne Fontaine who gave her her chance at the cinema in La Fille de Monaco in 2008. Since then, Louise Bourgoin has appeared in numerous comedies of varying degrees of less successful, until finding his best role in the series Hippocrates by Thomas Lilti.

Sandrine Kiberlain

Our national Sandrine never ceases to convince us with her humor and the emotion she transmits in each of her characters. With a few dozen films already under her belt, we were able to see her comedic as one could wish in Les Deux Alfredby Bruno Podalydès in 2020, she was of course extraordinary in 9 Months Farm by Albert Dupontel (2013), a role for which she won the César for best actress.

Emmanuelle Devos

The one who was never the daughter of Raymond Devos is nonetheless an essential French actress. Deaf on screen in On my lips by Jacques Audiard (2001) we discover her as a mistress narrowly spared in L’Adversaire by Nicole Garcia (2001 ). Subscribe to Arnaud Desplechin’s films (How I argued… (my sexual life), 1996 to name just one among 5 other films), we can currently see it in We are made to get along by Pascal Elbé.

Virginie Efira

Now a Franco-Belgian actress, we are far from getting tired of seeing her in the cinema. Excellent in the equally excellent Victoria by Justine Triet (2016) which led her to the César for best actress, she never stops coming box office successes including Benedetta by Paul Verhoeven (2021) or of course Adieu des idiots by Albert Dupontel (2020)

Nathalie Baye

Four times Caesarized for Save who can (life) by Jean-Luc Godard (1981), A Strange Affair by Pierre Granier-Deferre (1982), La Libra by Bob Swaim (1983) and finally Le Petit Lieutenant by Xavier Beauvois (2006), we saw her recently in Lui by Guillaume Canet or Garçon Chiffon by Nicolas Maury (2020).

Virginie Ledoyen

Even if she has fallen off the radar a little, Virginie Ledoyen remains one of the actresses who we necessarily like. At the age of 17, she received the César for Most Promising Actress for Les Marmottes by Elie CHouraqui before working alongside a host of excellent directors: Olivier Assayas in Cold Water and End of August, beginning of September, Claude Chabrol in la Cérémonie, Danny Boyle with the international success La Plage without forgetting François Ozon and his film Eight women, to name but a few.

Jeanne Moreau

It’s hard to get more iconic in cinema. A career spanning 130 films, collaborations with the greatest directors (Agnès Varda, Marguerite Duras, Louis Malle, Jacques Demy, Orson Welles, Luis Buñuel, Jean Renoir, I can go on and on). She was even elected to the Academy of Fine Arts of the Institut de France in 2000 so we won’t risk forgetting her.

Sabine Azéma

Muse of Alain Resnais, we obviously adored him in Smoking/ No Smoking (1993), We know the song (1997) or Love, drink and sing (2014). But all that doesn’t weigh much compared to the fact that she lives in the 14th, the best arrondissement in Paris (and probably in the world).

Anne Brochet

This is our Brocheeeeeeeet! The divine Roxane of Cyrano de Bergerac by Jean-Paul Rappeneau (1990) will have a lasting impact on our minds in the theater as well as in the cinema and via television.

Marina Times

The actress that everyone loves as we saw in this top. From Robin Hood to Burger Quiz, including notable roles like that of Catherine Nicolle in Darling by Christine Carrière (2007) or more astonishingly like Claire in Enorme by Sophie Letourneur (2020) or her lighter performance alongside Laurent Lafitte in Papa ou Maman< /span> by Martin Bourboulon (2015). In short, Marina Foïs is almost flawless.

Isabelle Carré

Certainly the most choupinesque actress in the history of choupinerie, Isabelle Carré’s smile has what it takes to make life better. Outstanding performance in Remembering Beautiful Things by Zabou Breitman (2002) for which she was awarded a César, we also adored her in the more outdated role of Franssou in Quatre Etoiles by Christian Vincent (2006) or in his adulterous relationship with Jean-Pierre Bacri in Les Sentiments de Noémie Lvovsky (2002)

Ariane Ascaride

Unforgettable in Marius et Jeannette and partner on screen (as in life) of Robert Guédiguian with whom she will share half of her filmography, our beautiful Ariane is also a great and committed theater actress.

Catherine asked

Certainly one of the most bankable French actresses, Catherine Frot has a filmography as long as an arm (but a very long arm), we loved her in the role of Yolande in A family resemblance by Cédric Klapish (1996) but difficult to make a choice among so many successful performances: La Dilettante by Pascal Thomas (1999), The Last Days of the World by the Larrieu brothers (2007) or even The Vilain by Albert Dupontel (2009) are all good memories of cinema.

Adèle Haenel

If there is one actress who we could say is capable of playing everything, it is Adèle Haenel. Radiant in Naissance des pieuvres by Céline Sciamma (2007), she also shines in boorish characters like that of Madeleine in les Combattants by Thomas Cailley than in a more militant cinema like 120 beats per minute by Robin Campillo (2017) or even Portrait of the young girl on fire by Céline Sciamma (2019).

Brigitte Bardot

How can we forget BB in a ranking of the greatest French actresses? Well, we’re not going to lie, for many years the star has certainly worked in animal protection but is also a pure lepenist. So you can be an international star and also a big fascist.

Isabelle Adjani

One of the best Isabelle in this top (and there are many). A very talented actress from a very young age, she started in cinema at the age of 14 and joined the Comédie Française at 17, which is not ordinary. Five times Caesarized for his performances in Possession by Andrzej Zulawski (1981), The Murderous Summer by Jean Becker (1983), Camille Claudel by Bruno Nuytten (1988), The Queen Margot by Patrice Chéreau (1994) and more recently La Journe de la skirt by Jean-Paul Lilienfeld in 2008.

Agnes Jaoui

Difficult to dissociate her from the legendary Bacri/Jaoui pair, of which we still mourn the disappearance of the indescribable Jean-Pierre… However, Agnès Jaoui stood out in a career as an actress (We will remember, among other things, her incredible performance in An outdoor woman by Christophe Blanc in 2000 or in Like a plane by Bruno Podalydès in 2015) on the one hand but also as an ingenious director who always takes a fair and sharp look at society and in particular cultural circles.


“Atmosphere, atmosphere, no, but do I have a mouthful of atmosphere? » if it could be summed up in a single sentence it would certainly be this, a response sent to the face of Louis Jouvet in Hotel du Nord by Marcel Carné (1938). Arletty (real name Léonie Bathiat) has a unique voice, an inimitable tone and one of the greatest actresses of the 20th century.

Dominique Blanc

Although she was rejected three times from the National Conservatory, Dominique Blanc is a precious jewel of French cinema. She still won 4 Césars and 4 Molières which is far from disgusting (personally I haven’t won any).

Marina Hands

We end with this actress who has a hand name and who is nonetheless a recognized figure in French cinema, César obtained in 2007 for her performance in Lady Chatterley by Pascale Ferran she was also great in Guy by Alex Lutz (2018) or even in the series created by Anne Berest and Fabrice Gobert, season 2 of which has recently been available on Arte.Mytho

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