Entertainment Oscar Winning Performances from the Past 50 Years, Ranked  

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51.3k votes 6.6k voters 40.5k views 104 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
3,444 603
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Forrest Gump, 1995

2
2,551 500
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Andrew Beckett
Philadelphia, 1994

3
638 522
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4
913 716
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The Godfather, 1973

5
1,072 897
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6
795 666
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

7
620 572
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The King's Speech, 2011

8
255 212
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Coal Miner's Daughter, 1981

9
250 200
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Driving Miss Daisy, 1990

10
199 154
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11
218 164
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Dustin Hoffman as Ted Kramer
Kramer vs. Kramer, 1980

12
654 571
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The Silence of the Lambs, 1992

13
601 545
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Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska
Sophie's Choice, 1983

14
356 312
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15
417 364
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16
166 124
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On Golden Pond, 1982

17
264 218
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18
557 480
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Raging Bull, 1981

19
206 164
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20
303 255
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21
421 379
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22
537 470
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23
212 163
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24
156 117
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Katharine Hepburn as Christina Drayton
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? 1968

25
198 160
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Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias
The Accused, 1989