Nayanthara, who had been dominating Tamil cinema for the last few years, took a back seat in 2016. Despite four Tamil releases, none of her performances stood out.
It was the lovely Tamannaah and newcomers Ritika Singh and Manjima Mohan, who impressed instead.
Looking at the top five actresses of 2016.
With four releases and three hits in a row, Tamannaah is 2016's most successful actress of Tamil cinema.
The bilingual Thozha (Oopiri in Telugu), in which she held her own against Telugu superstar Nagarjuna and Karthi, was her first mega success this year.
This was followed by National award-winning director Seenu Ramasamy's Dharmadurai, opposite Vijay Sethupathi. Her unglamorous role as a village doctor won her much appreciation.
But her best turned out to be AL Vijay's trilingual Devi, opposite Prabhu Deva. She gave an effortless performance in two contrasting characters. She was as convincing as an glamorous aspiring actress as she was in the meek and timid housewife, whose entire life revolved around her husband.
Newcomer Ritika Singh made a stunning debut in Sudha Kongara's sports drama Irudhi Suttru.
The actress, a real-life boxer herself, was perfect in the role of an aggressive roadside fish seller, who eventually turns out to be a boxing champion.
Her remarkable performance won her a special mention at the 63rd National Film Awards.
Irudhi Suttru was not her only release this year; the talented actress also played the lead opposite Vijay Sethupathi in Aandavan Kattalai. Directed by Kaaka Muttai fame Mankandan, this satirical film won her acclaim for a no-nonsense portrayal of a television journalist.
Even after 15 years in the industry, Trisha remains one of most sought-after actresses of Tamil cinema.
Her first two releases of the year, Aranmanai 2 and Nayagi, were run-of-the-mill horror comedies that failed to impress the critics and the box office.
But Trisha redeemed herself with a powerful performance opposite Dhanush in R S Durai Senthilkumar's political thriller Kodi. She played Rudhra, a hard-hearted, power-drunk and ambitious politician, who would do anything, even kill her own lover, to reach the top.
Very rarely do Tamil heroines have the courage to play negative roles.
Child artiste Manjima Mohan, who made her debut as heroine in the blockbuster Malayalam film Oru Vadakkan Selfie in 2015, created a sensation with her Tamil debut Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada.
Directed by Gautham Menon, the film also starred Simbu.
A natural before the camera, in a role that seemed to be tailor-made for her, Manjima won many hearts with her charming smile and expressive eyes.
Bollywood actress Radhika Apte seemed like the perfect choice to play opposite Rajinikanth in Pa Ranjith's gangster movie Kabali.
They shared a wonderful on-screen chemistry, giving a whole new meaning to romance in older couples. Rajinikanth's charm and style perfectly complemented Radhika's simplicity.
Though Radhika has been seen in several Tamil films over the last few years, Kabali catapulted her to stardom overnight.