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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).

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

3
Vito Corleone is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
The Godfather

Actor: Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando - Best Actor (1972).

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#11 of 3,827 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #16 of 94 The Most Likable Movie Antiheroes #31 of 102 Movie Tough Guys Without Super Powers or a Super Suit

4
Atticus Finch is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
Randle McMurphy is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
Hannibal Lecter is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
7
The Joker is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
The Dark Knight

Actor: Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger - Best Supporting Actor (2008).

More The Joker 

#10 of 94 The Most Likable Movie Antiheroes #1 of 27 The Most Controversial Casting Decisions of All Time

8
Raymond Babbitt is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
Anton Chigurh is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
Jake LaMotta is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
Hans Landa is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
Tommy DeVito is listed (or ranked) 12 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

13
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
14
Sean Maguire is listed (or ranked) 14 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

15
General George S. Patton... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Patton

Actor: George C. Scott

George C. Scott - Best Actor (1970).
16
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Paul Stewart0 added Abraham Lincoln Lincoln

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis as

17
Terence Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
Whiplash

Actor: J.K. Simmons

J. K. Simmons - Best Supporting Actor (2014).
18
Maximus Decimus Meridius... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
19
Roger 'Verbal' Kint is listed (or ranked) 19 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

20
Daniel Plainview is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
Stephen Hawking is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
The Theory of Everything

Actor: Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne - Best Actor (2014).
22
King George VI is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked
The King's Speech

Actor: Colin Firth

Colin Firth - Best Actor (2010).
23
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
Dr. King Schultz is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked