Top 10 Era Defining Actresses: Modern

Script written by Sean Harris. These women wowed us until the end of the century! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 era defining actresses: modern edition! For this list, we’ve looked at actresses that were especially successful and influential within the ‘modern era’. For the purposes of our countdown, we are defining the ‘modern era’ as the years between 1970 and 2000. This is part of a series of videos on era-defining actresses throughout the ages. Special thanks to our users William Brick, John Nolan, Zef, a25kaitlynrocks, Rvdxtreme1, Rocky Al., joseluis28ful, Priscilla Marie Trespalacios, msche80397, Emily JoAnn Warden, amiel1124 and cleatus16 for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Sean Harris.

Top 10 Era Defining Actresses: Modern


These women wowed us until the end of the century! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 era defining actresses: modern edition!

For this list, we’ve looked at actresses that were especially successful and influential within the ‘modern era’. For the purposes of our countdown, we are defining the ‘modern era’ as the years between 1970 and 2000. This is part of a series of videos on era-defining actresses throughout the ages.

#10: Nicole Kidman

This Australian actress accelerated herself toward superstardom during the ‘90s, starring in a string of movies that made her a household name. A role alongside her husband-to-be Tom Cruise in “Days of Thunder” could be considered her breakthrough, while her part in “Batman Forever” earned her even greater attention. By the time she starred in 1999’s “Eyes Wide Shut”, cinema-goers’ eyes were very much open for Kidman! She had become a queen of the silver screen!

#9: Jane Fonda

Growing up within one of Hollywood’s greatest ever acting dynasties; Jane Fonda had expectations to meet... And boy, did she manage to do that! During the ‘70s, and ‘80s especially, we were all fond of Fonda! She picked up her first Academy Award in ‘71 for a provocative role in “Klute”, before scooping her second statuette in ‘78 for “Coming Home”. “Stanley & Iris” proved to be her final feature for 15 years in 1990... By then her work as an ‘era definer’ was done!

#8: Judi Dench

One of the greatest British actresses ever to have lived, Judi Dench is a modern movie-making marvel! She began her career acting out the classics on the stage... garnering a certain sophistication which she took into her cinema work as well! A supporting role in “A Room with a View” is a particular highlight, while she’ll always be known as ‘M’ to any James Bond buff! Her Oscar came in ‘98 for a portrayal of Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare in Love” - an appropriate role for acting royalty!

#7: Anjelica Huston

Another diamond nestled within an acting dynasty, Anjelica Huston is the third generation of Academy Award winners within her family. A supporting role in “Prizzi’s Honor” earned her the Oscar, and she would also receive consecutive nominations in ‘89 and ‘90 for “Enemies, A Love Story” and “The Grifters”. A very versatile performer, Huston is also a children’s favorite... Her performance as Roald Dahl’s ‘Grand High Witch’ was terrifically terrifying, and another effort of the era!

#6: Sigourney Weaver

To be considered an ‘era defining actress’, it would help if you starred in an ‘era defining film’ - Sigourney Weaver certainly did that! The “Alien” franchise changed science fiction filmmaking forever, and Weaver wound up with a Hollywood high profile as out of this world as her character! By no means a one hit wonder, however, Weaver also impressed as Dana Barrett in “Ghostbusters” and Dian Fossey in “Gorillas in the Mist”! From spaceships to spirits to Silverbacks, Sigourney made great movie after great movie after great movie!

#5: Diane Keaton

Our next leading lady seemed a little unconventional at times, but it’s unsurprising that she garnered so much success! Diane Keaton is perhaps most well-known for the work she did under Woody Allen’s direction during the ‘70s, starring in hit films such as “Play it Again, Sam” and “Sleeper”, before winning an Oscar for “Annie Hall”! The fact that her breakthrough came with a role in “The Godfather” is often forgotten - which is testament to just how good she really was!

#4: Emma Thompson

Back to Britain with our next entry, and to a lady that can make us laugh just as much as make us cry, just as much as make us do anything, really! Emma Thompson is one of the most impressive all-around actresses in history! “Much Ado About Nothing” proved she had very much of something, while “Howards End” won her an Academy Award! Not bad for a girl who started off her career goofing around in Cambridge University’s famous Footlights troupe! Not bad at all!

#3: Jodie Foster

Next, an actress who’s been in the public eye for most of her life, and has deserved every ounce of admiration that’s been given her! 1976 was the year that really put Jodie Foster at the forefront of our minds, as she starred in “Bugsy Malone” and was Oscar nominated for her role as an underage prostitute in “Taxi Driver”! Since then, success has flown freely! Similarly intense parts in “The Accused” and “The Silence of the Lambs” have especially ensured that her mantelpiece is aching with awards!

#2: Julia Roberts

The ‘chick-flick’ is perhaps one of cinema’s most prolific genres in the 21st century, and Julia Roberts is one of the major reasons for that! Roberts laid some serious foundations for the format during the ‘80s and ‘90s, and is rightly thought of as one of the most talented actresses of her generation! “Pretty Woman” has become an iconic film, and “Notting Hill” was richly received! More than just a rom-com-er though, her Academy Award for “Erin Brockovich” in 2000 was long, long overdue!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Meg Ryan
- Demi Moore
- Drew Barrymore
- Whoopi Goldberg
- Annette Bening
- Michelle Pfeiffer

#1: Meryl Streep

To edge out our other actresses to this top spot, you have to be something seriously special and Meryl Streep is just that! With three Academy Awards to her name and a record nineteen nominations, as well as eight Golden Globes and an incredible twenty-nine nominations, the statistics definitely do not lie! “Kramer vs. Kramer”, “Sophie’s Choice” and “The Iron Lady” brought the most success, but the Streep back-catalogue is full of filmic victories! An inspirational era definer, she’s one of the best the industry has ever seen!

Do you agree with our list? Which actress from the 1970s and 2000 is your favorite? For more talented Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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