VOTE Oscar Winning Performances from the Past 50 Years, Ranked  

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45.3k 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
2,877 457
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Forrest Gump, 1995

2
2,002 352
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Andrew Beckett Philadelphia, 1994

3
617 377
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4
352 218
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The King's Speech, 2011

5
1,047 721
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6
884 573
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The Godfather, 1973

7
589 407
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Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska Sophie's Choice, 1983

8
771 529
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

9
639 438
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The Silence of the Lambs, 1992

10
389 267
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976

11
525 352
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12
630 411
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There Will Be Blood, 2008

13
544 364
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Raging Bull, 1981

14
467 320
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15
408 287
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16
368 248
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17
355 239
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18
259 166
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19
248 141
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Coal Miner's Daughter, 1981

20
342 236
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21
260 171
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22
322 224
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Dallas Buyers Club, 2014

23
409 289
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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
193 116
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46
181 126
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The Piano, 1994

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