Oscars Oscar Winning Performances from the Past 50 Years, Ranked  

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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
2,612 404
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Forrest Gump, 1995

2
1,746 298
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Andrew Beckett Philadelphia, 1994

3
612 323
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4
385 217
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

5
519 310
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6
875 522
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The Godfather, 1973

7
1,036 669
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8
352 199
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9
578 365
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Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska Sophie's Choice, 1983

10
759 478
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

11
634 397
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The Silence of the Lambs, 1992

12
539 324
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Raging Bull, 1981

13
627 373
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There Will Be Blood, 2008

14
462 282
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15
402 248
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16
362 215
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17
288 178
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The King's Speech, 2011

18
316 191
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Dallas Buyers Club, 2014

19
259 147
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20
337 205
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21
405 254
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22
301 199
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23
247 129
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Coal Miner's Daughter, 1981

24
256 154
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25
481 320
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American Beauty, 2000

26
277 175
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27
208 131
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Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine The Lion in Winter, 1969 (tied with Barbra Streisand)

28
243 130
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Driving Miss Daisy, 1990

29
197 115
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30
246 143
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31
331 217
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1967

32
367 249
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Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena Boys Don't Cry, 2000

33
274 179
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34
180 109
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Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster Norma Rae, 1980

35
251 165
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36
191 124
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37
429 259
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La Vie en Rose, 2008

38
251 153
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39
190 124
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Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias The Accused, 1989

40
194 111
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41
287 209
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42
261 216
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Erin Brockovich, 2001

43
155 107
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On Golden Pondd, 1982

44
256 195
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45
323 219
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46
192 112
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47
178 123
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The Piano, 1994

48
174 126
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49
192 148
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Dead Man Walking, 1996

50
158 117
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