VOTE Oscar Winning Performances from the Past 50 Years, Ranked  

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44.7k votes 5.4k voters 38.4k 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
2,839 435
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Forrest Gump, 1995

2
1,968 330
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Andrew Beckett Philadelphia, 1994

3
615 354
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4
326 185
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The King's Speech, 2011

5
389 248
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

6
1,044 698
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7
882 550
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The Godfather, 1973

8
769 507
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

9
586 390
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Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska Sophie's Choice, 1983

10
524 337
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11
637 423
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The Silence of the Lambs, 1992

12
630 397
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There Will Be Blood, 2008

13
543 350
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Raging Bull, 1981

14
466 306
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15
408 272
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16
355 226
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17
367 236
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18
322 211
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Dallas Buyers Club, 2014

19
341 224
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20
409 276
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21
259 162
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22
248 137
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Coal Miner's Daughter, 1981

23
260 167
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24
306 215
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25
281 183
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26
484 335
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American Beauty, 2000

27
200 121
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28
209 137
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Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine The Lion in Winter, 1969 (tied with Barbra Streisand)

29
246 138
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Driving Miss Daisy, 1990

30
248 150
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31
277 185
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32
255 170
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33
372 260
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Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena Boys Don't Cry, 2000

34
181 114
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Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster Norma Rae, 1980

35
193 129
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36
333 229
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1967

37
431 267
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La Vie en Rose, 2008

38
193 127
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Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias The Accused, 1989

39
253 159
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40
293 214
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41
265 221
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Erin Brockovich, 2001

42
157 110
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On Golden Pondd, 1982

43
260 198
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44
194 117
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45
328 224
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46
181 125
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The Piano, 1994

47
193 116
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48
176 130
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49
207 150
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50
195 151
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Dead Man Walking, 1996