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The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked 

Ranker Film
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Updated November 21, 2019 72.9k votes 12.2k voters 50.1k views 61 items

List Rules Vote up the greatest performances that WON the Academy Award, either for Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor

Over the years, many great actors and actresses have been awarded the title of "Best Actor" for their portrayal of classic characters in film. Some of these Oscar-winning performances were based on real people, while other performances that won Oscars were based on fictional characters. 

Who are some of the best character portrayals that have earned actors Oscars? Forrest Gump from Forrest Gump made our list. Tom Hanks won a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of this multi-talented man. Forrest Gump was based on the 1986 Winston Groom book of the same name. Anthony Hopkins's iconic portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in the film The Silence of the Lambs also made our list. Hopkins took home the Best Actor Oscar in 1991.

Several Best Supporting Actor performances also made the cut. Gregory Peck's performance as Atticus Finch in the film To Kill A Mockingbird, based on the novel by Harper Lee, earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1962. Other supporting actor roles that are featured on this list include Tommy DeVito from Goodfellas, played by Joe Pesci, and Rod Tidwell from Jerry McGuire, played by Cuba Gooding Jr.

Which best actor performance is your favorite? Vote up your favorite Oscar-winning character below! 
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list ordered by
1
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
2
Andrew Beckett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
3
Atticus Finch is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird
Gregory Peck - Best Actor (1962).

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#44 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #124 of 132 The Most Hardcore Big Screen Action Heroes #50 of 95 Movie Tough Guys Without Super Powers or a Super Suit

4
Anton Chigurh is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
Javier Bardem - Best Supporting Actor (2007).

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#24 of 879 The Greatest Movie Villains Of All Time #54 of 70 The Most Utterly Terrifying Figures in Horror Films #691 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time

5
Tommy DeVito is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Joe Pesci in Goodfellas
Joe Pesci - Best Supporting Actor (1990).

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#75 of 879 The Greatest Movie Villains Of All Time #724 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #48 of 77 The Most Memorable Film Sidekicks Ever

6
Hans Landa is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds
Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2009).

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#12 of 879 The Greatest Movie Villains Of All Time #729 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #1 of 15 Characters You Never Realized Are Basically Satan

7
Sean Maguire is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting
Robin Williams - Best Supporting Actor (1997).

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#266 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #13 of 62 The Best Fictional Teachers #2 of 30 The Greatest Teacher Characters in Film

8
General George S. Patton... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
9
Terence Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
J. K. Simmons - Best Supporting Actor (2014).
10
Jake LaMotta is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Jake LaMotta Robert De Niro in Raging Bull
Robert De Niro - Best Actor (1980).

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#572 of 879 The Greatest Movie Villains Of All Time #818 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #81 of 95 Movie Tough Guys Without Super Powers or a Super Suit

11
Roger 'Verbal' Kint is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects
Kevin Spacey - Best Supporting Actor (1995).

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#185 of 879 The Greatest Movie Villains Of All Time #734 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #41 of 94 The Most Likable Movie Antiheroes

12
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
13
Daniel Plainview is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis - Best Actor (2007).

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#579 of 879 The Greatest Movie Villains Of All Time #822 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #19 of 29 29 Movie Villains Who Were Probably Right All Along

14
Raymond Babbitt is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man
Dustin Hoffman - Best Actor (1988).

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#247 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #18 of 56 The Greatest Naifs in Film History #8 of 46 The Greatest Disabled Characters in Film

15
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Paul Stewart0 added Abraham Lincoln

Daniel Day Lewis as

16
Maximus Decimus Meridius... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
17
Randle Patrick McMurphy ... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Jack Nicholson - Best Actor (1975).

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#710 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #24 of 94 The Most Likable Movie Antiheroes #3 of 17 The Greatest Characters Played by Jack Nicholson, Ranked

18
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Tom Islava added Avijit Dutt in Dear Friend Hitler
Ben Kingsley-Best Actor (1982)

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19
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
20
Samuel Gerard is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive
Tommy Lee Jones - Best Supporting Actor (1993).

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#321 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #3 of 54 The Best Tommy Lee Jones Characters of All Time

21
Stephen Hawking is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Benedict Cumberbatch in Hawking
Eddie Redmayne - Best Actor (2014).

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#2,940 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #2 of 46 The Greatest Disabled Characters in Film

22
Dr. Schultz is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained
Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2012).

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#723 of 3,508 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time #94 of 132 The Most Hardcore Big Screen Action Heroes #4 of 41 The Best Quentin Tarantino Characters of All Time

23
Dickie Eklund is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Christian Bale in The Fighter
Christian Bale - Best Supporting Actor (2010).
24
Nick Chevotarevich is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Nick Chevotarevich
Christopher Walken - Best Supporting Actor (1978).
25
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked