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The Best Oscar-Winning Actor Performances, Ranked

Updated November 21, 2019 72.4k votes 14.7k voters 55.8k views61 items

List RulesVote 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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  • Forrest Gump1
    9,279
    867

    Forrest Gump

    Forrest Gump

    ActorTom Hanks

    Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1994).

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  • Andrew Beckett2
    8,590
    845

    Andrew Beckett

    Philadelphia

    ActorTom Hanks

    Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1993).
  • Terence Fletcher3
    552
    370

    ActorJ.K. Simmons

    J. K. Simmons - Best Supporting Actor (2014).
  • Hans Landa4
    873
    630

    Hans Landa

    Inglourious Basterds

    ActorChristoph Waltz

    Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2009).

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  • Anton Chigurh5
    843
    610

    Anton Chigurh

    No Country for Old Men

    ActorJavier Bardem

    Javier Bardem - Best Supporting Actor (2007).

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  • General George S. Patton, Jr.6

    ActorGeorge C. Scott

    George C. Scott - Best Actor (1970).
  • Tommy DeVito7
    752
    521

    Tommy DeVito

    Goodfellas

    ActorJoe Pesci

    Joe Pesci - Best Supporting Actor (1990).

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  • Truman Capote8
    480
    283

    ActorPhilip Seymour Hoffman

    Philip Seymour Hoffman - Best Actor (2005).
  • Ray Charles9
    476
    313

    ActorJamie Foxx

    Jamie Foxx - Best Actor (2004).

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  • Jake LaMotta10
    674
    514

    Jake LaMotta

    Raging Bull

    ActorRobert De Niro

    Robert De Niro - Best Actor (1980).
  • Nick Chevotarevich11
    354
    217

    Nick Chevotarevich

    The Deer Hunter
    Christopher Walken - Best Supporting Actor (1978).
  • Roger 'Verbal' Kint12
    552
    390

    Roger 'Verbal' Kint

    The Usual Suspects

    ActorKevin Spacey

    Kevin Spacey - Best Supporting Actor (1995).

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  • U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard13
    395
    266

    ActorTommy Lee Jones

    Tommy Lee Jones - Best Supporting Actor (1993).
  • Antonio Salieri14
    326
    221

    ActorF. Murray Abraham

    F. Murray Abraham - Best Actor (1984).
  • Daniel Plainview15
    584
    430

    Daniel Plainview

    There Will Be Blood

    ActorDaniel Day-Lewis

    Daniel Day-Lewis - Best Actor (2007).

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  • Dickie Eklund16
    368
    249

    Dickie Eklund

    The Fighter

    ActorChristian Bale

    Christian Bale - Best Supporting Actor (2010).
  • Sean Maguire17
    770
    619

    Sean Maguire

    Good Will Hunting

    ActorRobin Williams

    Robin Williams - Best Supporting Actor (1997).

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    #15 of 62 The Best Fictional Teachers#3 of 20 20 Movie Characters That People Swear Changed Their Lives For The Better

  • Atticus Finch18
    1,002
    833

    Atticus Finch

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    ActorGregory Peck

    Gregory Peck - Best Actor (1962).

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  • 19
    572
    437

    Abraham Lincoln

    Lincoln

    ActorDaniel Day-Lewis

    Daniel Day Lewis as

  • Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle20
    354
    270

    Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle

    The French Connection

    ActorGene Hackman

    Gene Hackman - Best Actor (1971).
  • Dr. Schultz21
    486
    353

    Dr. Schultz

    Django Unchained

    ActorChristoph Waltz

    Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2012).

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    #92 of 132 The Most Hardcore Big Screen Action Heroes#3 of 41 The Best Quentin Tarantino Characters of All Time

  • Mahatma Gandhi22
    490
    391

    ActorAvijit Dutt

    Ben Kingsley-Best Actor (1982)

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  • Idi Amin Dada23
    358
    264

    Idi Amin Dada

    The Last King of Scotland

    ActorForest Whitaker

    Forest Whitaker - Best Actor (2006).
  • Raymond Babbitt24
    820
    721

    ActorDustin Hoffman

    Dustin Hoffman - Best Actor (1988).
  • Stephen Hawking25
    518
    431

    Stephen Hawking

    The Theory of Everything

    ActorEddie Redmayne

    Eddie Redmayne - Best Actor (2014).