Oscars The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances  

Ranker Film
Originally by
43.3k votes 6k voters 45.5k 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.
list ordered by

1
3,056 397
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Forrest Gump
Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1994).

2
2,748 373
Andrew Beckett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Philadelphia
Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1993).

3
481 235
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
527 228
Annie Wilkes is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Misery
Kathy Bates - Best Actress (1990).

5
446 260
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
730 727
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
1,026 1,018
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).

8
518 399
Randle Patrick 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
638 467
Vito Corleone is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Godfather
Marlon Brando - Best Actor (1972).

10
379 208
Aileen Wuornos is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Monster
Charlize Theron - Best Actress (2003).

11
356 267
Anton Chigurh is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
No Country for Old Men
Javier Bardem - Best Supporting Actor (2007).

12
339 285
Tommy DeVito is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Goodfellas
Joe Pesci - Best Supporting Actor (1990).

13
241 170
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
362 256
Raymond Babbitt is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Rain Man
Dustin Hoffman - Best Actor (1988).

15
354 160
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
360 212
Hans Landa is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Inglourious Basterds
Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2009).

17
308 180
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
289 211
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
RobLein added Mary Poppins
Julie Andrews -- Best Actress (1964)

19
385 205
Clarice Starling is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Silence of the Lambs
Jodie Foster - Best Actress (1991).

20
262 123
Mammy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added Gone with the Wind
Hattie McDaniel-Best Supporting Actress (1939)

21
189 124
Ranker Video
Tom Islava added Patton
George C. Scott- Best Actor (1970)

22
286 126
Zofia
Tom Islava added Sophie's Choice
Meryl Streep-Best Actress (1982)

23
312 155
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
272 208
Roger 'Verbal' Kint is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Usual Suspects
Kevin Spacey - Best Supporting Actor (1995).

25
288 167
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Abraham Lincoln Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis - Best Actor (2012).