Oscars Oscar Winning Performances from the Past 50 Years, Ranked  

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53.8k votes 7.6k voters 42.5k 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
3,986 644
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Forrest Gump, 1995
2
3,088 542
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Andrew Beckett
Philadelphia, 1994
3
649 560
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4
920 761
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The Godfather, 1973
5
1,080 951
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6
802 715
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7
662 606
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The Silence of the Lambs, 1992
8
201 168
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Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias
The Accused, 1989
9
540 486
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10
427 396
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11
260 208
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Annie Hall, 1978
12
271 259
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Erin Brockovich, 2001
13
268 229
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14
421 379
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15
273 239
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16
220 181
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Dustin Hoffman as Ted Kramer
Kramer vs. Kramer, 1980
17
358 324
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18
324 304
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19
200 173
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20
559 497
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Raging Bull, 1981
21
208 172
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22
201 171
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23
477 433
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24
341 290
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1967
25
761 767
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The King's Speech, 2011