Why is Dame Maggie Smith sexier than Grace Kelly? Because we say so.
Every year come Academy Award season, there are lists upon lists ranking all sorts of attributes across all sorts of categories. Here at Nerve, we're interested in the sexiness of every woman who has won the Best Actress Oscar, and they are quite the sexy bunch.
Don't fear, we didn't rank them according to their physical appearances — there are plenty of sites for that — that would be boring and arbitrary. Instead, we've factored in the intangible, the intelligence, the gumption, sassiness, and drama of these talented women, alongside their physical sex appeal. It's this unique combination that makes anyone truly sexy.
What follows is a heterosexual woman's objective, scientific list ranking the absolute sexiness of seventy of the world's most celebrated actresses. Enjoy.
70. Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon has been in an okay movie or two, but you couldn't call her sexy. She sort of looks like a toddler who put on a giant blonde wig and its mother's high heels. Essentially, she's got the sex appeal of a My Little Pony. Next!
69. Loretta Young
Loretta Young was beautiful, but she was known for her squeaky-clean image in a time where all images were pretty squeaky-clean. We're not saying she wasn't talented, because she was, but we would rather not.
68. Janet Gaynor
First-ever Oscar winner, Janet Gaynor went from being a shoe salesgirl to winning her Academy Award for best Actress. Janet Gaynor won her Oscar for silent films, but she scores low on the list because we like a woman with a mouth on her.
67. Joan Fontaine
Playing opposite Cary Grant in 1941's Suspicion, Joan Fontaine garnered praise for her rendition of a drab housewife who becomes paranoid that her husband is plotting to kill her. In real life, she had a lifelong feud with her sister, fellow Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland, and was completely bitter about the institution of marriage. Not so sexy.
66. Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwen is lithe and lovely. She looks like a princess or some sort of elf, but all her focus on organic homemaking and only drinking green liquids turns us off.
65. Louise Fletcher
Louise Fletcher might be an extremely talented actress, but nothing about her iconic, frigid turn as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest inspires warmth in our loins.
64. Patricia Neal
While she had an appealing, timeless look, Patricia Neal was best known her matriarchal, middle-aged roles in films like Breakfast at Tiffany's and Hud.
63. Marie Dressler
Marie Dressler might not have been much to look at, but she became one of the greatest box office draws of her era. Starting as a Broadway star in 1892, she went on to become one of film’s best-loved comediennes. Funny is always sexy.
62. Helen Hayes
While playing a French farmer's daughter in The Sin of Madelon Claudet might sound like a role ripe for sexiness, Helen Hayes brought more of an enfeebled helplessness than a naive charm to the part.
61. Susan Hayward
Hayward rose to prominence through her role as an alcoholic in 1947's Smash-up, the Story of a Woman, then won the Oscar for her portrayal of a female death row inmate in 1958's I Want to Live!. Both were brave, non-traditional roles for women at the time.
60. Ellen Burstyn
Requiem for a Dream is so unsexy that it taints this otherwise talented actress for the purposes of this list.
59. Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews was a wonderful actress, but she's most famous for two roles in which she plays a nanny. We're just not into it.
58. Frances McDormand
McDormand's film debut was in the Coen Brothers' first movie, Blood Simple. Since then she's played a wise, small town cop, an over-anxious mother, and a cheating spouse. I kind of think she's sexy, but then I also remember her helicopter parenting in Almost Famous and it scares me.
57. Julie Christie
A pop icon in "Swinging London," Julie Christie starred in Darling as a young model sleeping her way to the top. Though she looked good in a yellow bikini, her grimace during the crying scenes takes her down a few pegs. There's no way to unsee that.
56. Holly Hunter
Maybe it's her association with the film Thirteen, a film that tried so hard to be edgy that it became boring and unwatchable, but I sort of find Holly Hunter a bit boring.
55. Jane Wyman
Hollywood legend Jane Wyman was the first wife of Ronald Reagan. However, the divorced when he was still a Democrat, so she's got that going for her.
54. Sally Field
Sally Field has always killed it, as a flying nun or a maternal figure, but sexually I'm just not that into it.
53. Emma Thompson
It was really sad when she cried at Christmastime listening to the saddest Joni Mitchell song of them all. A male in the office just noted that he "feels like I could get a date with her if I wanted to, and that accessibility makes her very sexy to me." Okay.
The ratio of the amount of time Cher looked like a beautiful flower child to the amount of time she has looked very surgically altered is quite low. Thus, she's fairly low on this list.
51. Liza Minnelli
Liza Minnelli is an odd looking lady these days. Perhaps she overdid it on surgeries a bit, but we don't really care. She's a zany lady with a gorgeous voice and a self-deprecating sense of humor. And vertigo.
50. Helen Hunt
Don't you want to go to a dinner party with Helen Hunt? I'm not sure if she's the sexiest lady in my book, but she does seem like someone you could have fun, buddy sex with.
49. Olivia de Havilland
The older sister of fellow Oscar winner Joan Fontaine, Olivia de Havilland was linked to heavy hitters like James Stewart and Howard Hughes in the 1930s. Of her sister, she once said, "I bequeath all my beauty to my younger sister, Joan, since she has none." Well played.
48. Sandra Bullock
I want to watch Sandra Bullock infiltrate the Miss America pageant, but I don't really want to watch her do much else.
47. Marlee Matlin
Marlee Matlin, the only deaf performer to win an Oscar, was seeking treatment for drug abuse at the Betty Ford Clinic when she found out she was nominated. Sobriety is very sexy.
46. Greer Garson
Greer Garson was one of MGM's major stars in the 1940s, appearing alongside Clark Gable and other prominent actors of the time. She pitched the tagline, "She Put the Able in Gable" for her 1945 film Adventure.
45. Claudette Colbert
Colbert considered the left side of her face to be her "best side" and refused to be shot from the right, necessitating the rebuilding of entire sets sometimes. A little neurosis can be hot.
44. Shirley Booth
One G short of an EGOT, Booth won an Oscar, three Tonys, and two Emmys.
43. Jessica Tandy
Jessica Tandy was once voted one of People's "50 Most Beautiful People." Much later in life she became the oldest Academy Award winner for her role in Driving Miss Daisy. We appreciate the sexiness of all age groups.
42. Luise Rainer
The first actress to win back-back Oscars, Rainer is a well-known example of "The Oscar Curse." After her two wins, she failed to thrive as an actress. She did a fantastic job in The Good Earth, a book that always made me cry as a child, and had an earnestness on screen that was sexy and sincere.
41. Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman was fantastic in her Oscar winning role in The Hours, but other than that we don't love her. We won't hold Tom Cruise against her, but she does look and act kind of like a crazy deer, so there's that.
40. Norma Shearer
Norma Shearer was a teenage beauty queen who was rejected by Ziegfeld when she auditioned to appear in his famous “Follies.” She was born with a cross-eyed stare, but found fame after having her eyes corrected she went on to fame and fortune.
39. Shirley MacLaine
Don Seigel, a director who once worked with her said, "It's hard to feel any great warmth to her. She's too unfeminine and has too much balls. She's very, very hard." We disagree.
38. Jennifer Jones
A true beauty, Jennifer Jones retreated from the limelight in later years to live a quieter life. She did, however, found the Jennifer Jones Simon Foundation For Mental Health And Education after her daughter's suicide as a way to help others suffering from mental illness.
37. Kathy Bates
How can anyone not be enamored of this wonderful woman? She rose to prominence at age forty-two, in the creepiest movies of all time, Misery. Though it's decidedly unsexy to hold an unwilling author captive in your home, breaking his ankles so he can never leave you, Bates went on to play a host of far more likable, relatable characters. She's got warmth and a sense of humor.
36. Mary Pickford
Mary won for her leading role in “Coquette,” the sexiest of movie titles. With her flapper bob, and waved curls, she was America’s sweetheart. We still love her.
35. Joanne Woodward
Joanne Woodward has the poutiest, sexiest face. She was married to Paul Newman, one of our sexy favorites, for fifty years, until his death in 2008.
34. Diane Keaton
Annie Hall might not have been the brightest, but she had a charm. We rank Woody Allen's former muse high on any list, vest and tie included.
33. Simone Signoret
Looking at this French beauty's studio shots from the 1940s just knocked my socks off.
32. Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman is semi-sexy. She's smart, accomplished, and talented. She seems approachable, but there's just something a little too serious about her.
31. Faye Dunaway
The sexiest Bonnie to ever grace the silver screen.
30. Anne Bancroft
With the raise of a leg, Anne Bancroft launched a million sexy dreams in the role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate.
29. Hilary Swank
At first I wasn't into the idea of HIlary Swank, but then I remembered that she won her first Oscar for her portrayal of Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry, which is a fantastic movie.
28. Joan Crawford
Before the "No wire hangers"-era, Joan Crawford was an impressive actress who gained renown first as a 1920s flapper, then as one of the depression-era's most popular actresses. She was well known for her "rags to riches" characters, popular with the public during hard times.
27. Bette Davis
Bette Davis was a forceful leading lady in the Hollywood studio era. She made her mark with forceful, intense characters and those cutting, lingering eyes.
26. Charlize Theron
Even though Charlize Theron was terrible in Prometheus, she did a killer job in Monster and was Michael Bluth's girlfriend in Arrested Development.
25. Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers is the smoothest dancer of the list, vastly increasing her sexiness in our eyes.
24. Judy Holliday
Judy Holliday had an IQ of 172, in the 99.99% percentile. The sexiest.
23. Jodie Foster
Jodie sort of 'came out' at this year's Golden Globes in an emotional speech that earned her acclaim. Not sure if this is related, but my mom did let me watch Nell as a small child, and Jodie Foster's boobs were the first movie boobs my tiny eyes had ever seen, which may account for her relatively high placement on this list.
22. Geraldine Page
Page was a trained Method actor. Nothing is sexier than being considered one of the greatest actors of all time.
21. Julia Roberts
Sure, Julia Roberts is a little cheesy with that mile-wide smile, but there's something so welcoming about her. The role for which she won, Erin Brockavich, she was an attorney whom no one took seriously because of her sexiness, but she ended up being smarter and more ambitious than anyone else in the film. She demonstrates that overt sexiness is fun and wonderful, and that it doesn't detract from intelligence or the ability to get shit done. Amen.
20. Marion Cotillard
She got that sexy, eccentric French woman vibe. Negative points for trying to kill Batman.
19. Susan Sarandon
Hell yes, Susan Sarandon. From Rocky Horror Picture Show to Thelma & Louise she's showcased her smarts and sexiness. These days she's running a ping pong bar (awesome) and dating a handsome gentleman thirty years her junior. Killing it.
18. Sissy Spacek
Sissy Spacek does sort of look like an alien, but in that sexy way. Plus, nothing is sexier than telekinesis.
17. Ingrid Bergman
Woody Guthrie wrote a song about this beauty. Alfred Hitchcock fawned over her. We love a muse.
16. Anna Magnani
Film historian Barry Monush called Anna Magnani "the volcanic earth mother of all Italian cinema." Enough said.
15. Jessica Lange
From her Oscar-winning performance in to her outstanding role in American Horror Story, Jessica Lange is an actress with unparalleled talent. Her epic confidence is agelessly sexy.
14. Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly was strikingly beautiful, much like a glowing angel is strikingly beautiful. She's a controversial figure at the Nerve office, with some petitioning for her advancement and others claiming her virginal beauty is none too sexy. We'll let you decide if she's misplaced.
13. Helen Mirren
Last year, at age sixty-six, Dame Helen Mirren wowed the world with her svelte bikini body. From her film debut in 1969 in Age of Consent, Mirren's work has been sexually-charged. Lifetime sexiness award.
12. Audrey Hepburn
Sure, everyone is obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, and she was a great actress with a distinct look, but she's scarcely sexy. Even in Breakfast at Tiffany's, a film in which she essentially plays an escort, there's something a bit lacking in her sex appeal. Though not top ten material, she was a sexy lady.
11. Maggie Smith
Dame Maggie Smith's outstanding career has spanned over six decades. Her awards and nominations occupy an entire, extremely long Wikipedia page. She's played gay man's beard, a good witch, and the Dowager.
10. Jane Fonda
Barbarella. End of story.
9. Halle Berry
Halle Berry showed up to accept her Razzie award for Worst Actress for her title role in Catwoman, a ballsy move of someone who doesn't take themselves too seriously. Additionally, she's the first and only African American woman to have won the Best Actress Oscar. Trailblazing and down-to-earth earns Halle many sexiness points.
8. Barbra Streisand
Babs has that ineffable star quality. She's got the voice, the confidence, and the talent. Funny Girl-era Streisand, stuffing a pillow under her dress to perform as a faux-pregnant Zeigfeld girl, showed use that comedic timing is far more important than an angelic visage.
7. Sophia Loren
The voluptuous Sophia Loren might be the straight-up, physically sexiest woman on this list. Even today, at seventy-eight-years-old, Loren is drop-dead gorgeous.
6. Glenda Jackson
Glenda Jackson won two Oscars, guest-starred on The Muppet Show as a delusional pirate, and has served as a member of British Parliament since 1992. Each one of those things, on its own, is over-the-top sexy.
5. Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet defined sexiness for an entire generation when she stepped out of her dress aboard the Titanic. She's always been confident about her body, and that's the sexiest attribute you can possess.
4. Meryl Streep
Did you know that more people have thanked Meryl Streep in their Oscar acceptance speeches than have thanked God? We agree.
3. Vivien Leigh
In Gone With the Wind, Leigh famously played Scarlett O'Hara, the archetypal Southern belle and coquette turned unflinching business woman. But it was her role in A Streetcar Named Desire, for which she earned her second Oscar, that really set her apart. She played the delusional Blanche DuBois with deftness and precision. She was delicately beautiful, and a true actress who carried herself with grace and poise.
2. Elizabeth Taylor
Liz Taylor is the essence of sex appeal. From Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to Cleopatra, she embodied the seductress both on screen and off. With a life filled with diamonds, divorce, and drinking, Elizabeth Taylor was one hell of a woman. She lived hard and loved all things gaudy, but she embraced it. A far more complex character than a certain recent television miniseries would have you believe, Elizabeth Taylor was the ultimate sultry star.
1. Katharine Hepburn
Winning a record number of Academy Awards for Best Actress — her four awards have never been surpassed — Katharine Hepburn was a dynamite actress, gifted and expressive. She won her first Oscar in 1933 and her fourth in 1981. Born to a doctor and a suffragette, Katharine was encouraged to speak her mind from an early age. As a young woman, Katharine was a tomboy, cutting her hair short and calling herself "Jimmy." As an adult, Hepburn defied gender stereotype, wearing pants before it was socially acceptable and generally being more outspoken and opinionated than was thought "proper." A true trailblazer, in life and in art, Katharine Hepburn tops our sexiest stars.