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The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked 

Ranker Film
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Updated November 21, 2019 68.7k votes 9.9k voters 45.8k views 64 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! 
list ordered by
1
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Forrest Gump

Actor: Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1994).

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#2 of 3,827 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #1 of 25 The Greatest Characters Played by Tom Hanks, Ranked

2
Andrew Beckett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Philadelphia

Actor: Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1993).

More Andrew Beckett 

#178 of 3,827 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #31 of 95 The Best Fictional LGBTQ+ Role Models

3
Atticus Finch is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
To Kill a Mockingbird

Actor: Gregory Peck

Gregory Peck - Best Actor (1962).

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#24 of 3,827 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #1 of 93 Fictional Lawyers You'd Most Want Defending You

4
Sean Maguire is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Good Will Hunting

Actor: Robin Williams

Robin Williams - Best Supporting Actor (1997).

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#8 of 85 The Best Fictional Teachers #2 of 30 The Greatest Teacher Characters in Film

5
Hans Landa is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Inglourious Basterds

Actor: Christoph Waltz

Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2009).

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#145 of 3,827 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #19 of 961 The Greatest Movie Villains of All Time

6
Anton Chigurh is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
No Country for Old Men

Actor: Javier Bardem

Javier Bardem - Best Supporting Actor (2007).

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#103 of 142 The Most Hardcore Big Screen Action Heroes #13 of 961 The Greatest Movie Villains of All Time

7
Tommy DeVito is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Goodfellas

Actor: Joe Pesci

Joe Pesci - Best Supporting Actor (1990).

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#69 of 961 The Greatest Movie Villains of All Time #76 of 102 Movie Tough Guys Without Super Powers or a Super Suit

8
Terence Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Whiplash

Actor: J.K. Simmons

J. K. Simmons - Best Supporting Actor (2014).
9
General George S. Patton... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Patton

Actor: George C. Scott

George C. Scott - Best Actor (1970).
10
Roger 'Verbal' Kint is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
The Usual Suspects

Actor: Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey - Best Supporting Actor (1995).

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#147 of 3,827 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #126 of 961 The Greatest Movie Villains of All Time #38 of 94 The Most Likable Movie Antiheroes

11
Jake LaMotta is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Jake LaMotta Raging Bull

Actor: Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro - Best Actor (1980).

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#602 of 818 The Most Annoying TV and Film Characters Ever #66 of 102 Movie Tough Guys Without Super Powers or a Super Suit

12
Daniel Plainview is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
There Will Be Blood

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis - Best Actor (2007).

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#169 of 961 The Greatest Movie Villains of All Time #5 of 15 15 Cinematic Alpha Males You Never Noticed Are Almost Certainly Virgins

13
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Paul Stewart0 added Abraham Lincoln Lincoln

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis as

14
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Capote

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman - Best Actor (2005).

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#4 of 18 The Greatest Novelist Characters in Film #1 of 43 The Best Philip Seymour Hoffman Characters

15
Maximus Decimus Meridius... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
16
Raymond Babbitt is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Rain Man

Actor: Dustin Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman - Best Actor (1988).

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#260 of 3,827 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #11 of 46 The Greatest Disabled Characters in Film

17
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
18
Randle McMurphy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Actor: Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson - Best Actor (1975).

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#199 of 3,827 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #3 of 17 The Greatest Characters Played by Jack Nicholson, Ranked

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
The Fugitive

Actor: Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones - Best Supporting Actor (1993).
21
Dr. Schultz is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Django Unchained

Actor: Christoph Waltz

Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2012).

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#245 of 3,827 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #14 of 15 15 Of The Whitest White Saviors In Film History

22
Stephen Hawking is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
The Theory of Everything

Actor: Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne - Best Actor (2014).
23
Nick Chevotarevich is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Nick Chevotarevich The Deer Hunter
Christopher Walken - Best Supporting Actor (1978).
24
Dickie Eklund is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
The Fighter

Actor: Christian Bale

Christian Bale - Best Supporting Actor (2010).
25
Idi Amin Dada is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
The Last King of Scotland

Actor: Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker - Best Actor (2006).

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#3,296 of 3,827 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #339 of 961 The Greatest Movie Villains of All Time