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The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances 

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Updated February 10, 2020 57.3k votes 10.3k voters 55.6k views 138 items

List Rules Vote for the greatest performances that won Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, or Best Supporting Actress

Over the years, there have been so many great actors and actresses who have won Oscars for portraying classic characters. Some of these best actor Oscar performances were for roles based on real people, while others were based on fictional characters.

Who are some of the best characters to win an Oscar? Randle Patrick McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest made our list. Jack Nicholson won a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of this not-so-crazy patient in 1975. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was based on the 1962 Ken Kesey book of the same name. Marlon Brando's iconic portrayal of Vito Corleone in the film The Godfather also made our list. Brando took home the Best Actor Oscar in 1972.

Several Best Actress performances also made this list. Julia Robert's portrayal of Erin Brockovich in the film of the same name, earned her an Oscar for Best Actress in 2000. Other Best Actress roles that are featured on this list include Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) from Black Swan and Clarice Starling (Jody Foster) from The Silence of the Lambs. Halle Berry was the first African American woman to win an Oscar for her performance as Leticia Musgrove in Monster's Ball.  

Which best actor Oscar-winning performance is your favorite? Vote up your favorite role, and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section.
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list ordered by
1
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
2
Scarlett O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
3
Annie Wilkes is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
4
Vito Corleone is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
5
Atticus Finch is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird
Gregory Peck - Best Actor (1962).

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Hannibal Lecter is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
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Tommy DeVito is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Joe Pesci in Goodfellas
Joe Pesci - Best Supporting Actor (1990).

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Anton Chigurh is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
Javier Bardem - Best Supporting Actor (2007).

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Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
RobLein added Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins
Julie Andrews -- Best Actress (1964)

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Clarice Starling is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
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Raymond Babbitt is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man
Dustin Hoffman - Best Actor (1988).

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12
Zofia "Sophie"... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice
Meryl Streep-Best Actress (1982)
13
The Joker is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger - Best Supporting Actor (2008).

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Hans Landa is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds
Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2009).

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Randle Patrick McMurphy ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Jack Nicholson - Best Actor (1975).

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Nina Sayers is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
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Nurse Ratched is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
IanHarvey added Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Louise Fletcher - Best Supporting Actress ( 1975)

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Marge Gunderson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
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Aileen Wuornos is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
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Tom Islava added
Helen Mirren-Best Actress (2006)
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Jake LaMotta is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Jake LaMotta Robert De Niro in Raging Bull
Robert De Niro - Best Actor (1980).

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Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
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Ben Kingsley - Best Actor (1982)

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Dr. Schultz is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained
Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2012).

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