Entertainment Oscar Winning Performances from the Past 50 Years, Ranked  

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51.5k votes 6.7k voters 40.7k 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
3,487 609
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Forrest Gump, 1995

2
2,594 506
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Andrew Beckett
Philadelphia, 1994

3
639 527
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4
913 724
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The Godfather, 1973

5
1,072 907
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6
795 676
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

7
636 587
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The King's Speech, 2011

8
256 221
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Coal Miner's Daughter, 1981

9
251 207
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Driving Miss Daisy, 1990

10
200 160
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11
655 576
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The Silence of the Lambs, 1992

12
218 171
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Dustin Hoffman as Ted Kramer
Kramer vs. Kramer, 1980

13
360 311
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14
422 380
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15
538 471
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16
206 164
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17
602 548
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Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska
Sophie's Choice, 1983

18
476 419
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19
647 545
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There Will Be Blood, 2008

20
402 370
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

21
331 293
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Dallas Buyers Club, 2014

22
199 161
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Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias
The Accused, 1989

23
212 163
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24
157 118
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Katharine Hepburn as Christina Drayton
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? 1968

25
379 330
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