VOTE Oscar Winning Performances from the Past 50 Years, Ranked  

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47.9k votes 5.8k voters 39k views 102 items

List Rules List includes all actors and actresses who won an Oscar for a leading role after 1965.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issues the be-all and end-all of acting awards in the United States: the coveted Oscar. Only one man and one woman get to win the Academy Awards for leading roles every year, but which of the performances turned in by the talented and highly-praised actors below are truly the best of the best? This list ranks the best Oscar-winning performances by actors and actresses in leading roles over the last 50 years - since 1966.

These performances were (according to the Academy) the absolute best that each year had to offer. But which of those is the absolute best? Is it the iconic portrayal of Vito Corleone turned in by Marlon Brando in The Godfather? Maybe it's Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice? Or is it a more recent recipient? Maybe Julianne Moore in Still Alice or Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything? Use your votes to decide!

Below you'll find the best leading performances since the 1966 Academy Awards - honoring films released in 1965, through to today. Vote up your the leading performances by an actor or actress you think were the best and see your picks rise to the top!
list ordered by

1
3,014 533
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Forrest Gump, 1995

2
2,136 428
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Andrew Beckett Philadelphia, 1994

3
621 452
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4
1,050 797
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5
447 352
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The King's Speech, 2011

6
889 645
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The Godfather, 1973

7
777 601
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

8
642 505
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The Silence of the Lambs, 1992

9
591 480
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Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska Sophie's Choice, 1983

10
528 417
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11
547 428
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Raging Bull, 1981

12
394 334
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

13
470 383
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14
413 348
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15
635 503
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There Will Be Blood, 2008

16
374 295
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Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena Boys Don't Cry, 2000

17
433 296
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La Vie en Rose, 2008

18
486 387
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American Beauty, 2000

19
411 339
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20
259 200
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21
356 290
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22
264 209
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23
373 306
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24
310 265
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25
325 271
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Dallas Buyers Club, 2014

26
183 136
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Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster Norma Rae, 1980

27
249 180
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Coal Miner's Daughter, 1981

28
280 217
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29
263 213
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30
265 233
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Erin Brockovich, 2001

31
210 166
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Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine The Lion in Winter, 1969 (tied with Barbra Streisand)

32
282 220
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33
344 285
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34
195 127
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35
294 233
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36
254 180
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37
158 118
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On Golden Pondd, 1982

38
251 182
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39
335 261
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1967

40
247 171
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Driving Miss Daisy, 1990

41
195 148
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Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias The Accused, 1989

42
201 150
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43
194 152
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44
194 121
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45
183 130
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The Piano, 1994

46
260 209
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47
210 154
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48
196 155
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Dead Man Walking, 1996

49
177 135
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50
215 143
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Dustin Hoffman as Ted Kramer Kramer vs. Kramer, 1980