VOTE Oscar Winning Performances from the Past 50 Years, Ranked  

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49.3k votes 6.1k voters 39.5k 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
3,166 559
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Forrest Gump, 1995

2
2,283 458
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Andrew Beckett Philadelphia, 1994

3
626 480
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4
1,060 836
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5
897 667
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The Godfather, 1973

6
784 626
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

7
648 530
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The Silence of the Lambs, 1992

8
595 506
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Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska Sophie's Choice, 1983

9
531 442
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10
550 452
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Raging Bull, 1981

11
512 470
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The King's Speech, 2011

12
474 403
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13
397 355
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

14
205 158
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15
197 154
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Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias The Accused, 1989

16
185 143
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Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster Norma Rae, 1980

17
196 126
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18
159 123
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On Golden Pondd, 1982

19
488 402
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American Beauty, 2000

20
248 177
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Driving Miss Daisy, 1990

21
417 366
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22
251 188
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Coal Miner's Daughter, 1981

23
411 350
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24
376 319
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25
433 307
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La Vie en Rose, 2008