Oscars The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances  

Ranker Film
Originally by
41.6k votes 5.7k voters 44.3k views 134 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
2,896 380
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Forrest Gump Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1994).

2
2,597 360
Andrew Beckett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Philadelphia Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1993).

3
456 225
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
503 221
Annie Wilkes is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Misery Kathy Bates - Best Actress (1990).

5
433 249
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
695 720
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
340 258
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
978 1,006
The Joker is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Dark Knight Heath Ledger - Best Supporting Actor (2008).

9
615 462
Vito Corleone is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Godfather Marlon Brando - Best Actor (1972).

10
494 393
Randle McMurphy is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Jack Nicholson - Best Actor (1975).

11
357 202
Aileen Wuornos is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Monster Charlize Theron - Best Actress (2003).

12
323 281
Tommy DeVito is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Goodfellas Joe Pesci - Best Supporting Actor (1990).

13
233 165
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
346 252
Raymond Babbitt is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Rain Man Dustin Hoffman - Best Actor (1988).

15
341 157
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
276 207
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
338 209
Hans Landa is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Inglourious Basterds Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2009).

18
290 179
Jake LaMotta is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Raging Bull Robert De Niro - Best Actor (1980).

19
253 117
Mammy is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added Gone with the Wind Hattie McDaniel-Best Supporting Actress (1939)

20
366 203
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
183 121
Ranker Video
Tom Islava added Patton George C. Scott- Best Actor (1970)

22
272 123
Zofia
Tom Islava added Sophie's Choice Meryl Streep-Best Actress (1982)

23
265 204
Roger 'Verbal' Kint is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Usual Suspects Kevin Spacey - Best Supporting Actor (1995).

24
298 152
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
221 164
Stephen Hawking is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added The Theory of Everything Eddie Redmayne-Best Actor (2014)