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Film

KINO favorites: 10 best German actresses

From Hannelore Elsner and Romy Schneider to Julia Jentsch and Nina Hoss, German cinema has produced some superb actresses in recent decades. Here are our favorites.

For the latest edition in our KINO favorites series, we take on the nearly impossible task of picking our favorite German actresses, past and present.

Impossible because if there's one thing German cinema has no shortage of, it's phenomenal actresses. Strong, intelligent woman have been a central feature of much of German film since its inception. In Hollywood, the actress is often just an accessory to her male lead. In German film, she's usually an equal, if not the main player.

The haughty flappers of 1920s Berlin gave way to the no-nonsense "Trümmerfrauen," who rebuilt the country out of the ashes of World War II. Even in films featuring the stereotypical housewife of the 1950s or, in 1980s romantic comedies, flirtatious date-a-holics, female characters in German cinema have had a sharp, intelligent edge. That's all the more true today, where a younger generation of actresses has continued in this very German tradition of being both feminine and tough.

It's a description that fits all the women in our list of favorite actresses. They've played Nazis and rebels, artists and monsters. One was even Pope. What unites them is a keen intelligence paired with raw emotion. These are women that bare all on screen. Their performances are often provocative and frequently divisive. Rarely do they comfort or console.

For this reason, this was probably our most fought-over list. There's something about German actresses that divides fans into camps of love-them or hate-them.

So we expect this list to be controversial and divisive. It stretches from the stars of the 1930s to some of the most exciting and provocative actresses working today.

Bring on the comments and condemnations. Who do you think we've unfairly snubbed, which of our picks doesn't deserve her place of honor? Let us know your own Top 10 by sending us an email at: kino@dw.com. We can't promise you'll change our minds (we're pretty stubborn) but give it your best shot.

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