Top of the World: 20 Favourite Oscar Winning Performances by an Actor

This week’s top is similar to last week’s one, but this time we’ll take a look at the Oscar Winning Performance by male performers. I couldn’t made up my mind on only 15 performances, so I went with 20 instead.

Remember, this is a top list for the actors who DID won an Oscar. The one that were only nominated are not included. For that, we’ll have to look at a futur top. We also have to consider that winning performances for Best Supporting actor aren’t include in the list either.

Don’t forget, my top lists are very subjective. My top 1 might not be your top 1, and your top 3 might not be my top 3. It’s not an objective list. These are just my personal choices and the first objective of this list is really just to entertain you and share my cinematic tastes with you.

Well, here we go! My top 20 favourite Oscar Winning Performances by an Actor (in a leading role)

20. Kevin Spacey (American Beauty – Sam Mendes, 1999)

19. James Cagney (Yankee Doodle Dandy – Michael Curtiz, 1942)

Yes, just THAT moment from the film made him deserve this Oscar:

18. Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night – Norman Jewison, 1967)

17. Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Milos Forman, 1975)

Jack Never goes to the Oscars without his sunglasses!

16. Colin Firth (The King’s Speech – Tom Hooper, 2010) 

15. Yul Brynner (The King and I -Walter Lang, 1956) 

“Eccetera, eccetera, eccetera!”

14. Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry – Richard Brooks, 1960)

Between us, Burt sort of deserves an Oscar for each one of his performances. He always put so much energy in his acting!

13. Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot – Jim Sheridan, 1989)

His first of three Oscar

12. Robert Donat (Goodbye Mr. Chips– Sam Wood, 1939)


I can’t find any picture of him an his Oscar. I guess he didn’t attend the ceremony.

11. Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs – Jonathan Demme, 1993)

Creepy, but worthy!

10. Peter Finch (Network– Sidney Lumet, 1976)


Sadly, Peter Finch died in 1977 before the Oscar ceremony. That’s why we haven’t got any photos of him and the award. 

9. Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump– Robert Zemeckis, 1994)

8. Ernest Borgnine (Marty – Delbert Mann, 1955)

7. Gary Cooper (High Noon– Fred Zinnemann, 1952)

Annex - Cooper, Gary (High Noon)_01

A very refined performance. Unfortunately, due to poor health, Gary Cooper couldn’t attend the Oscar ceremony. This was his second Oscar (he won the first one for Sergent York, which I haven’t seen yet). 

6. Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man– Barry Levinson, 1988)

5. Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird – Robert Mulligan, 1962)

Possibly the best on-screen father. 1962 was a cruel year as both Gregory Peck and Peter O’Toole (Laurence of Arabia) highly deserve the Oscar. 

4. Marlon Brando (On the Waterfront – Elia Kazan, 1954)

Brando at his best

3. Humphrey Bogart (The African Queen – John Huston, 1951)

By far my favourite performance of his. On the left, his lovely wife actress Lauren Bacall

2. Jame Stewart (The Philadelphia Story – George Cukor, 1940) 

My favourite actor. Gee, he was so young! The funniest performance of the lot!






















Fredric March (The Best Years of Our Lives – William Wyler, 1946)


Well, first time I saw this film I didn’t really care for him. But I then discover how a great performance it was. Fredric March shows so much versatility in this role! Once again, we have to thanks William Wyler for directing his actors so well. Once again (!) we don’t have pictures from the actor and his Oscar as he didn’t attend the ceremony. 


Of course, many other actors deserved to be on this list, but for that it will have to be a longer one.

Once again, I hope you enjoyed this week’s top! Please share your choices with me if you want to!

11 thoughts on “Top of the World: 20 Favourite Oscar Winning Performances by an Actor

  1. I wasn’t expecting Fredric March at number 1 🙂 Good choice! Although I have to admit, I think Jimmy Stewart deserved it as well for It’s a Wonderful Life.
    Marlon Brando in OTW is my personal favourite all of time!
    Great list altogether!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great list. I knew somehow James Stewart would be on your list, but I thought it would be for his role in It’s a Wonderful Life 🙂 If I ever made my own list, I’d probably have James Stewart on my number one list, but for his role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. thanks, Virginie. always enjoy many your lists :). all great performances. glad you picked Marlon, Nicholson and Peck – their best performances whichall deserved the Oscar

    Liked by 1 person

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