Entertainment

The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances  

Ranker Film
Originally by
49.2k votes 7.9k voters 50.9k views 137 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.
list ordered by
1
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
2
Andrew Beckett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
3
Atticus Finch is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
4
Scarlett O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
5
Annie Wilkes is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
6
Anton Chigurh is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
No Country for Old Men
Javier Bardem - Best Supporting Actor (2007).

More Anton Chigurh

#171 of 3,789 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #13 of 962 The Greatest Movie Villains of All Time #49 of 74 The Most Utterly Terrifying Figures in Horror Films

7
The Joker is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger - Best Supporting Actor (2008).

More The Joker

#8 of 3,789 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #10 of 93 The Most Likable Movie Antiheroes #94 of 102 Movie Tough Guys Without Super Powers or a Super Suit

8
Hannibal Lecter is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
9
Vito Corleone is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
10
Tommy DeVito is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
11
Randle McMurphy is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Jack Nicholson - Best Actor (1975).
12
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
RobLein added Mary Poppins
Julie Andrews -- Best Actress (1964)

More Mary Poppins

#354 of 3,789 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #23 of 71 The Best Fictional Witches #4 of 394 The Greatest Female Characters in Film History

13
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)

More Mahatma Gandhi

#30 of 931 People We Wish Were Still Alive #106 of 1,472 The Greatest Minds of All Timefeaturing The Best Mahatma Gandhi Quotes

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

More Hans Landa

#145 of 3,789 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #19 of 962 The Greatest Movie Villains of All Time #1 of 41 The Best Quentin Tarantino Characters of All Time

15
Aileen Wuornos is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Monster
Charlize Theron - Best Actress (2003).
16
Raymond Babbitt is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Rain Man
Dustin Hoffman - Best Actor (1988).
17
Nurse Ratched is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
IanHarvey added One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Louise Fletcher - Best Supporting Actress ( 1975)

More Nurse Ratched

#278 of 3,789 The Best Movie Characters of All Time #9 of 334 The Greatest Female Villains #32 of 962 The Greatest Movie Villains of All Time

18
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
Zofia "Sophie"... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added Sophie's Choice
Meryl Streep-Best Actress (1982)
20
Jake LaMotta is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Jake LaMotta Raging Bull
Robert De Niro - Best Actor (1980).
21
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Abraham Lincoln Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis - Best Actor (2012).
22
Clarice Starling is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
23
Maximus Decimus Meridius... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
24
Sean Maguire is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Good Will Hunting
Robin Williams - Best Supporting Actor (1997).
25
King George VI is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added The King's Speech
Colin Firth-Best Actor (2010)