VOTE Oscar Winning Performances from the Past 50 Years, Ranked  

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45k votes 5.4k voters 38.5k 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
2,840 448
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Forrest Gump, 1995

2
1,968 343
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Andrew Beckett Philadelphia, 1994

3
339 186
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The King's Speech, 2011

4
615 367
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5
1,045 711
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6
882 563
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The Godfather, 1973

7
770 519
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

8
587 399
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Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska Sophie's Choice, 1983

9
389 260
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

10
637 433
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The Silence of the Lambs, 1992

11
524 347
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12
630 406
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There Will Be Blood, 2008

13
543 359
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Raging Bull, 1981

14
466 315
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15
408 281
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16
355 235
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17
367 245
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18
322 220
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Dallas Buyers Club, 2014

19
341 233
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20
409 285
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21
248 140
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Coal Miner's Daughter, 1981

22
259 166
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23
260 171
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24
307 221
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25
281 185
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26
200 122
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27
246 139
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Driving Miss Daisy, 1990

28
209 138
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Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine The Lion in Winter, 1969 (tied with Barbra Streisand)

29
248 151
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30
256 170
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31
484 343
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American Beauty, 2000

32
278 187
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33
181 114
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Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster Norma Rae, 1980

34
193 129
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35
193 127
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Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias The Accused, 1989

36
372 267
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Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena Boys Don't Cry, 2000

37
253 159
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38
333 234
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1967

39
431 274
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La Vie en Rose, 2008

40
293 219
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41
265 222
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Erin Brockovich, 2001

42
157 110
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On Golden Pondd, 1982

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

46
193 116
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47
328 229
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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