VOTE Oscar Winning Performances from the Past 50 Years, Ranked  

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49.4k 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
3,166 561
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Forrest Gump, 1995

2
2,283 459
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Andrew Beckett Philadelphia, 1994

3
627 481
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4
1,061 837
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5
898 668
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The Godfather, 1973

6
785 627
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

7
648 531
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The Silence of the Lambs, 1992

8
595 507
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Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska Sophie's Choice, 1983

9
515 470
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The King's Speech, 2011

10
531 443
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11
551 453
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Raging Bull, 1981

12
474 404
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13
398 356
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

14
283 227
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15
268 221
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16
263 217
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17
488 403
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American Beauty, 2000

18
260 209
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19
417 367
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20
255 192
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21
639 526
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There Will Be Blood, 2008

22
256 188
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23
411 351
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24
210 172
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Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine The Lion in Winter, 1969 (tied with Barbra Streisand)

25
198 161
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