VOTE Oscar Winning Performances from the Past 50 Years, Ranked  

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50.4k votes 6.3k voters 39.9k 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
3,267 584
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Forrest Gump, 1995

2
2,375 483
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Andrew Beckett
Philadelphia, 1994

3
634 505
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4
1,070 873
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5
908 694
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The Godfather, 1973

6
790 649
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

7
653 555
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The Silence of the Lambs, 1992

8
599 529
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Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska
Sophie's Choice, 1983

9
190 150
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Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster
Norma Rae, 1980

10
555 473
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Raging Bull, 1981

11
573 546
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The King's Speech, 2011

12
319 287
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13
475 414
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14
339 276
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1967

15
185 138
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The Piano, 1994

16
490 410
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American Beauty, 2000

17
644 537
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There Will Be Blood, 2008

18
256 196
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19
259 199
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Annie Hall, 1978

20
161 128
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On Golden Pondd, 1982

21
378 326
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22
253 194
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Coal Miner's Daughter, 1981

23
163 126
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24
260 195
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25
165 122
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On Golden Pond, 1982