Oscars The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances  

Ranker Film
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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.
list ordered by

1
2,748 374
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Forrest Gump Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1994).

2
2,445 359
Andrew Beckett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Philadelphia Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1993).

3
449 225
Atticus Finch is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
To Kill a Mockingbird Gregory Peck - Best Actor (1962).

4
496 221
Annie Wilkes is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Misery Kathy Bates - Best Actress (1990).

5
429 247
Scarlett O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Gone with the Wind Vivien Leigh - Best Actress (1939).

6
686 718
Hannibal Lecter is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Silence of the Lambs Anthony Hopkins - Best Actor (1991).

7
331 255
Anton Chigurh is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
No Country for Old Men Javier Bardem - Best Supporting Actor (2007).

8
488 391
Randle McMurphy is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Jack Nicholson - Best Actor (1975).

9
965 1,004
The Joker is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Dark Knight Heath Ledger - Best Supporting Actor (2008).

10
605 461
Vito Corleone is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Godfather Marlon Brando - Best Actor (1972).

11
352 202
Aileen Wuornos is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Monster Charlize Theron - Best Actress (2003).

12
317 280
Tommy DeVito is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Goodfellas Joe Pesci - Best Supporting Actor (1990).

13
230 164
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
IanHarvey added Dear Friend Hitler Ben Kingsley - Best Actor (1982)

14
343 251
Raymond Babbitt is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Rain Man Dustin Hoffman - Best Actor (1988).

15
337 156
Nurse Ratched is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
IanHarvey added One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Louise Fletcher - Best Supporting Actress ( 1975)

16
274 205
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
RobLein added Mary Poppins Julie Andrews -- Best Actress (1964)

17
287 179
Jake LaMotta is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Raging Bull Robert De Niro - Best Actor (1980).

18
250 116
Mammy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added Gone with the Wind Hattie McDaniel-Best Supporting Actress (1939)

19
331 209
Hans Landa is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Inglourious Basterds Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2009).

20
360 201
Clarice Starling is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Silence of the Lambs Jodie Foster - Best Actress (1991).

21
183 120
Ranker Video
Tom Islava added Patton George C. Scott- Best Actor (1970)

22
267 122
Zofia
Tom Islava added Sophie's Choice Meryl Streep-Best Actress (1982)

23
295 150
Sean Maguire is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Good Will Hunting Robin Williams - Best Supporting Actor (1997).

24
218 160
Stephen Hawking is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added The Theory of Everything Eddie Redmayne-Best Actor (2014)

25
256 204
Roger 'Verbal' Kint is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Usual Suspects Kevin Spacey - Best Supporting Actor (1995).

26
273 165
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Abraham Lincoln Lincoln Daniel Day-Lewis - Best Actor (2012).

27
261 226
Maximus Decimus Meridius is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Gladiator Russell Crowe - Best Actor (2000).

28
237 171
Dr. Schultz is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Django Unchained Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2012).

29
176 140
King George VI is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added The King's Speech Colin Firth-Best Actor (2010)

30
164 108
Jim Malone is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
IanHarvey added The Untouchables Sean Connery - Best Supporting Actor (1987)

31
136 62
Blanche DuBois is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added A Streetcar Named Desire, A Streetcar Named Desire, A Streetcar Named Desire Vivien Leigh-Best Actress (1951)

32
207 155
Pvt. Trip is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Glory Denzel Washington - Best Supporting Actor (1989).

33
248 164
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Ray Jamie Foxx - Best Actor (2004).

34
182 87
Queen Elizabeth II is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added The Queen Helen Mirren-Best Actress (2006)

35
184 154
Hugh Glass is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added The Revenant Leonardo DiCaprio-Best Actor (2015)

36
217 201
Lester Burnham is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
American Beauty Kevin Spacey - Best Actor (1999).

37
253 175
Nina Sayers is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Black Swan Natalie Portman - Best Actress (2010).

38
192 123
Minny Jackson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Help Octavia Spencer - Best Supporting Actress (2011).

39
171 112
Antonio Salieri is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added Amadeus F. Murray Abraham-Best Actor (1984)

40
184 145
Judah Ben-Hur is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
RobLein added Ben-Hur Charlton Heston -- Best Actor (1959)

41
243 149
Marge Gunderson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Fargo Frances McDormand - Best Actress (1996).

42
177 172
Alonzo is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Training Day Denzel Washington - Best Actor (2001).

43
138 116
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The French Connection Gene Hackman - Best Actor (1971).

44
197 156
Daniel Plainview is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
There Will Be Blood Daniel Day-Lewis - Best Actor (2007).

45
106 53
Terence Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Whiplash

46
172 114
Katherine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Aviator Cate Blanchett - Best Supporting Actress (2004).

47
176 139
Maggie Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Million Dollar Baby Hilary Swank - Best Actress (2004).

48
151 99
Helen Keller is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Miracle Worker Patty Duke - Best Supporting Actress (1962).

49
123 92
Anita is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
RobLein added West Side Story Rita Moreno, Best Supporting Actress (1961)

50
195 120
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Capote Philip Seymour Hoffman - Best Actor (2005).