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
2,431 368
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Forrest Gump Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1994).

2
2,134 351
Andrew Beckett is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Philadelphia Tom Hanks - Best Actor (1993).

3
442 223
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
490 215
Annie Wilkes is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Misery Kathy Bates - Best Actress (1990).

5
422 244
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
671 715
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
325 252
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
945 996
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
479 389
Randle Patrick McMurphy is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Jack Nicholson - Best Actor (1975).

10
311 277
Tommy DeVito is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Goodfellas Joe Pesci - Best Supporting Actor (1990).

11
344 198
Aileen Wuornos is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Monster Charlize Theron - Best Actress (2003).

12
589 458
Vito Corleone is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Godfather Marlon Brando - Best Actor (1972).

13
221 160
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
335 247
Raymond Babbitt is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Rain Man Dustin Hoffman - Best Actor (1988).

15
331 153
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
270 200
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
245 113
Mammy is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added Gone with the Wind Hattie McDaniel-Best Supporting Actress (1939)

18
353 195
Clarice Starling is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Silence of the Lambs Jodie Foster - Best Actress (1991).

19
279 176
Jake LaMotta is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Raging Bull Robert De Niro - Best Actor (1980).

20
322 205
Hans Landa is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Inglourious Basterds Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2009).

21
181 117
Ranker Video
Tom Islava added Patton George C. Scott- Best Actor (1970)

22
259 119
Zofia
Tom Islava added Sophie's Choice Meryl Streep-Best Actress (1982)

23
252 200
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
208 156
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
287 148
Sean Maguire is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Good Will Hunting Robin Williams - Best Supporting Actor (1997).

26
265 163
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
174 136
King George VI is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added The King's Speech Colin Firth-Best Actor (2010)

28
161 104
Jim Malone is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
IanHarvey added The Untouchables Sean Connery - Best Supporting Actor (1987)

29
251 224
Maximus Decimus Meridius is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Gladiator Russell Crowe - Best Actor (2000).

30
204 151
Pvt. Trip is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Glory Denzel Washington - Best Supporting Actor (1989).

31
230 169
Dr. Schultz is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Django Unchained Christoph Waltz - Best Supporting Actor (2012).

32
181 152
Hugh Glass is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added The Revenant Leonardo DiCaprio-Best Actor (2015)

33
243 162
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Ray Jamie Foxx - Best Actor (2004).

34
212 197
Lester Burnham is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
American Beauty Kevin Spacey - Best Actor (1999).

35
177 85
Queen Elizabeth II is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added The Queen Helen Mirren-Best Actress (2006)

36
127 62
Blanche DuBois is listed (or ranked) 36 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)

37
247 172
Nina Sayers is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Black Swan Natalie Portman - Best Actress (2010).

38
185 121
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
179 143
Judah Ben-Hur is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
RobLein added Ben-Hur Charlton Heston -- Best Actor (1959)

40
165 111
Antonio Salieri is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Tom Islava added Amadeus F. Murray Abraham-Best Actor (1984)

41
238 147
Marge Gunderson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Fargo Frances McDormand - Best Actress (1996).

42
169 170
Alonzo is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Training Day Denzel Washington - Best Actor (2001).

43
134 114
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
192 154
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
102 52
Terence Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Whiplash

46
167 112
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
146 97
Helen Keller is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
The Miracle Worker Patty Duke - Best Supporting Actress (1962).

48
168 138
Maggie Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Million Dollar Baby Hilary Swank - Best Actress (2004).

49
118 91
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
187 118
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Very Best Oscar Winning Performances
Capote Philip Seymour Hoffman - Best Actor (2005).