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The Top 25 Best Actor Winners So Far (Updated for 2023)

Welcome back folks! Believe it or not, this series is close to done with, as we’ve come to the penultimate installment. We can mourn that soon, but for now, we press on. Continuing a tradition I’ve been keen on for years, I’m ranking the new crop of Academy Award winners. For nearly all of the Oscar categories, you’ll see me list the top 25 recipients of that prize. Sometimes, our newest winner will appear. Other times, they’ll be relegated to the Honorable Mention category. Who knows, maybe one or two won’t even make the cut? It’s a list series that I’ll do each and every single year, in the weeks after the ceremony concludes. So, while this is a fun way to think about the Oscars in the aftermath of the latest telecast, it’s also a beginning for another column here on the site. Of course, definitely show us your own lists as well, in the comments section below. We’re definitely keen to know what you think!

Another big one is coming today for you all…Best Actor! Yes, the Best Actor category, one of the most prestigious at the Academy Awards (so much so that it infamously came after Best Picture at the most recent ceremony). Actor often is where movie stars get to be honored, sometimes for their best work, but often in films that just happen to have them at the right place and the right time. My top picks, however, don’t fall into that trap. Perhaps controversially, my top two winners of this Oscar are Nicolas Cage for Leaving Las Vegas (my all-time favorite acting performance, overall) and Tom Hanks for Philadelphia. The next five on this list, in alphabetical order to maintain some mystery, would be Casey Affleck for Manchester by the SeaMarlon Brando for On the WaterfrontDaniel Day-Lewis for LincolnRobert De Niro for Raging Bull, and Jack Nicholson for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. What of Anthony Hopkins, one of our more recent winners, you might ask? His performance in The Father did initially make my top ten, but you’ll have to read on below to find out exactly where it falls this year, just like with our prior winner in Will Smith for King Richard, as well as our most recent in Brendan Fraser for The Whale

Here now are what I consider to be the 25 best winners of the Oscar for Best Actor, to date:

Nicolas Cage

25. Jack Nicholson – As Good As It Gets
24. Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland
23. Dustin Hoffman – Rain Man
22. Gene Hackman – The French Connection
21. George C. Scott – Patton
20. Kevin Spacey – American Beauty
19. Ernest Borgnine – Marty
18. Sean Penn – Milk
17. Laurence Olivier – Hamlet
16. Philip Seymour Hoffman – Capote
15. Marlon Brando – The Godfather
14. Gregory Peck – To Kill a Mockingbird
13. Brendan Fraser – The Whale
12. Anthony Hopkins – The Silence of the Lambs
11. Peter Finch – Network
10. Tom Hanks – Forrest Gump
9. Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood
8. Anthony Hopkins – The Father
7. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
6. Jack Nicholson – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
5. Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
4. Marlon Brando – On the Waterfront
3. Robert De Niro – Raging Bull
2. Tom Hanks – Philadelphia
1. Nicolas Cage – Leaving Las Vegas

Honorable Mention: Colin Firth – The King’s Speech, Ben Kingsley – Gandhi, Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club, Joaquin Phoenix – Joker, Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything, and Cliff Robertson – Charly

Actor Tom Hanks receives his Oscar at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, CA., March 29, 1995. (Photo by John Barr/Liaison)

Stay tuned for the final category next week!

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Kellie
Kellie
1 month ago

This category is nearly impossible !Many of my favorites don’t win for their best or my personal favorites but I often think they are still the best ones to play the characters.

1.Jack Lemmon -Save the Tiger
2.Tom Hanks -Philadelphia
3.Marlon Brando -On The Waterfront
4.Russell Crowe -Gladiator
5.Daniel Day Lewis -Lincoln
6.Gregory Peck-To Kill A Mockingbird
7.Adrien Brody -The Pianist
8.Anthony Hopkins -The Silence of the Lambs
9.Robert DeNiron -Raging Bull
10.F.Murray Abraham
11.Brendan Fraser -The Whale
12.Eddie Redmayne -The Theory of Everything
13.Sean Penn -Milk
14.Jamie Foxx -Ray
15.Leonardo DiCaprio -The Revanant
16.Philip Seymour Hoffman -Capote
17.Sidney Poitier -Lillies In The Field
18.Humphry Bogart -The African Queen
19.Frederic March -The Best Year of Our Lives
20.Forest Whitaker -The Last King of Scotland
21.Colin Firth -The Kings Speech
22.Jeff Bridges -Crazy Heart
23.Henry Fonda -On Golden Pond
24.Paul Newman-The Color of Money
25.Jean Dujardin -The Artist

HM Joaquin Phoenix -Joker
Rod Steiger -In The Heat of The Night
Broderick Crawford -All The Kings Men
Jose Ferrer -Cyrano -de Bergerac
Peter Finch -Network
Casey Alleck-Manchester By The Sea
Burt Lancaster -Elmer Gantry
Frederic March -Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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