The Most Beautiful Women of All Time
The original blonde bombshell, 'B.B.' was an actress, model and one of the biggest sex symbols of the 50s and 60s before becoming an animal rights activist and—somewhat regrettably—a convicted race hate inciter in her later years.
For her turn in 12 Years a Slave, Nyong'o won the 2013 Best Supporting Actress Oscar becoming the first African actress to win the award and the first Kenyan actress to win an Oscar of any kind. It also happened to catapult her to the top of every magazine in the world's 'best-dressed' and 'most beautiful' lists, where she has remained ever since.
"I don't understand why people see me as beautiful" the British actress—regarded as one of the greatest screen icons of all time—apparently used to tell her son, leading to the obvious question: what hope is there for any of the rest of us?
Oscar-winning actress and Harvard University graduate, Natalie Portman is someone with talent to burn who also happens to be one of the great beauties of the modern celebrity era. Oh, and she's also a promising director now. Expect her to cure cancer around 2035.
2008's Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire was an overrated film in all but one respect: it launched the career of Freida Pinto. A darling of fashion magazines ever since, she is also considered in her home country as "arguably the biggest global star from India."
Over the past five years, Jessica Chastain has quietly established herself as one of the most talented and versatile screen actress working today. We say quietly because—the odd jaw-dropping red carpet appearance aside—she keeps her private life private, preferring to let a growing body of work speak for itself.
London-born Mathangi Arulprasagam is a creative polymath: rapper, singer-songwriter, record producer, director, visual artist, activist, photographer, and fashion designer. Oh, and a model. Naturally.
Best known as the original Bond girl having starred alongside Sean Connery in Dr. No, Ursula Andress' entrance in that film as (cringe) 'Honey Ryder the shell diver' was voted #1 'greatest sexy movie moment' in a Channel 4 survey some 40 years later. "This bikini made me into a success. As a result of starring in Dr. No as the first Bond girl, I was given the freedom to take my pick of future roles and to become financially independent," she later said of the white two-piece still etched into the minds of generations of movie-goers.
Starting her career as a model, Monica Bellucci moved into acting in the early 90s. You may know her as the star of The Matrix Reloaded, Enter the Matrix, or The Matrix Revolutions—all the films that aren't the Matrix, basically—or for making rather patronizing headlines as 'the oldest Bond girl ever' in 2015's Spectre. But perhaps her most interesting work known by English audiences was as a rape victim in Gaspar Noé's extremely controversial Irréversible.
There is little new to observe about Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, arguably the most powerful female celebrity in the world. Celebrated musician, businesswoman and activist, in her spare time she makes Jay-Z look like the luckiest man in the world.
2002 was the Great Year of Halle Berry, when she'd just won a Best Actress Oscar for Monster's Ball and had enough credibility banked to slum it as a sex symbol in the ludicrous Swordfish and Die Another Day, which actually made Swordfish look like Citizen Kane. Anyway, then came Catwoman and Cloud Atlas and a bunch of other crap and now she's perhaps best known as looking better with short hair than any other woman in history.
No name is as immediately synonymous with female beauty than Marilyn Monroe, the 1950s screen siren whose glamorous public life obscured an often tragic private life. Despite playing the 'dumb blonde' stereotype demanded by her era, off camera she was integral in building her own star power and in 1954 founded her own film production company because she was unhappy with the derisory contract offers from major studios.
They say there is no beauty like a French beauty (it's the French who say that, by the way), and in the case of model-turned-actress Marine Vacth they may have a point. The star of 2013's foreign language hit Jeune & Jolie (“Young & Beautiful”), her upturned gaze briefly adorned the sides of buses and tube stations across London causing more than a few commuter collisions.
Many journalists have made fools of themselves over the years trying to capture the essence of Scarlett Johansson's beauty in words, so we won't. What we will venture is that beside the obvious, a lot of it has to do with her voice: husky, sardonic, and—would you guess it—beautiful when she sings. Still too much? Okay, we’ll stop.
The only celebrated Australian beauty known in Britain not to have once had a part on Neighbours, Miranda Kerr became at model at 13 and has never looked back, becoming one of the most bankable faces in the world for beauty companies, fashion labels and magazines looking to sell copies including, in 2013, us.
Anyone who has seen Carey Mulligan's mournful 5 minute-long singing scene in Shame will be left in no doubt she deserves her place on this list. A BAFTA winner with a string of quality films to her name, the fact she is married to one of Mumford & Sons can be taken as proof she has a generous heart and tolerant spirit, too.
The biggest pop star in the world is, as these things tend to go, also one of the world's most beautiful women. With an output of ridiculous consistency—8 albums in ten years tell its own story—there's barely a day that goes by the average person in the west doesn't see Rihanna's face somewhere, doing something—usually somewhere and something pretty cool.
The Italian actress's heaving trophy cabinet includes Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Grammys and—of course—an Oscar, the latter being particularly impressive as it made her the first artist to win one for a performance in a foreign language (in 1962 for Two Women—remember that for your next pub quiz).
Still, only 21, Gigi (and her sister Bella) has already become one of the most successful models in the industry. A glittering career of being hired to sell even more lovely things awaits, and presumably a move into acting at some point.
Some things Eva Green is on record saying she likes. Staying at home. Not going to wild parties. Relaxing by a fire with a glass of wine. Taxidermy. Collecting preserved skulls and insects. Wait, what? That interest in the macabre is somewhat reflected in the French actress's film record, with stand-out roles in Sin City and several projects with Tim Burton in her back catalog. She also starred in Casino Royale, the best Bond of the Daniel Craig era.
Not many people consider becoming a Catholic nun and they end up being a famous actress instead. Fewer still can be found in the music videos of the Pet Shop Boys, Aerosmith, The Strokes, CeeLo Green and—biggest of all—Will Smith's 1998 smash "Miami". Even fewer again run their own bed linen and dinnerware business. All of which is a roundabout way of saying: these are some interesting facts about beautiful person Eva Mendes.
Naomi Campbell is famous for many things: being the most successful black supermodel of all time (and speaking out about the inequality she faced in doing so), once dating Mike Tyson and Robert De Niro and being involved in a surprisingly large about of assault convictions that involved the misuse of a mobile phone. She is also, without doubt, one of the 25 most beautiful women of all time.
2015 very much belonged to the Swedish actress when two roles—as a robot in sci-fi sleeper hit Ex Machina and a painter whose partner undergoes sex reassignment surgery in The Danish Girl—earned her a BAFTA nod and an Oscar respectively. Impeccable acting credentials established, her next move is going to shooting wolves while performing backflips as the next Lara Croft.
One of the few members of the Hollywood A-list self-aware enough to realize that Hollywood A-listers moralizing about politics wasn't likely to help the liberal cause, Zoe Saldana is by all accounts one of the most down to earth Beautiful People in the world of Beautiful People.
It took 24 attempts, but with Spectre, the world's biggest movie franchise finally came up with a Bond girl who convinced as anything more than a femme fatale. Not that playing Madeleine Swann particularly represents a career highlight for Léa Hélène Seydoux-Fornier de Clausonne—that should probably go to her turn in coming-of-age romantic drama Blue Is The Warmest Colour.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.