Greatest Hollywood Actors by Oscar Awards

Can you name the greatest male Hollywood actors of all-time based on their performance in Oscar nominations?
To make it easier, we give you a movie they starred in.
Read comments for methodology.
Quiz by stillnotginger3003
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Last updated: February 11, 2020
First submittedAugust 18, 2012
Times taken33,072
Rating4.26
7:00
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#
Movie
Actor
9.0
One Flew Over the
Cuckoo's Nest
Jack Nicholson
8.4
There Will be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis
7.6
Boys Town
Spencer Tracy
7.0
On the Waterfront
Marlon Brando
6.8
The Graduate
Dustin Hoffman
6.2
Forrest Gump
Tom Hanks
6.0
High Noon
Gary Cooper
6.0
The Apartment
Jack Lemmon
6.0
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Fredric March
6.0
Mystic River
Sean Penn
5.8
Malcolm X
Denzel Washington
5.8
Hamlet
Laurence Olivier
5.4
Taxi Driver
Robert De Niro
5.4
Cool Hand Luke
Paul Newman
4.8
Scarface
Al Pacino
4.4
The French Connection
Gene Hackman
4.4
The Life of Emile Zola
Paul Muni
4.2
The Departed
Leonardo DiCaprio
4.0
The Big Lebowski
Jeff Bridges
4.0
Open Range
Robert Duvall
4.0
Alfie
Michael Caine
4.0
To Kill a Mockingbird
Gregory Peck
4.0
Mr. Smith Goes to
Washington
James Stewart
3.8
Kentucky
Walter Brennan
3.6
The Usual Suspects
Kevin Spacey
3.6
From Here to Eternity
Burt Lancaster
3.6
Silence of the Lambs
Anthony Hopkins
3.4
Kiss of the Spider Woman
William Hurt
3.4
Deliverance
Jon Voight
3.4
Joker
Joaquin Phoenix
3.2
Zorba the Greek
Anthony Quinn
#
Movie
Actor
3.2
Lawrence of Arabia
Peter O'Toole
3.2
Casablanca
Humphrey Bogart
3.2
White Heat
James Cagney
3.2
A Double Life
Ronald Colman
3.2
The Bells of St. Mary's
Bing Crosby
3.2
A Beautiful Mind
Russell Crowe
3.2
Gone With the Wind
Clark Gable
3.2
Stalag 17
William Holden
3.2
The Private Life of
Henry VIII
Charles Laughton
3.2
Star Wars
Alec Guinness
3.2
Gandhi
Ben Kingsley
3.2
Shine
Geoffrey Rush
3.2
Patton
George C. Scott
3.0
Capote
Philip Seymour Hoffman
3.0
Cyrano de Bergerac
José Ferrer
3.0
Judgment at Nuremberg
Maximilian Schell
3.0
In the Heat of the Night
Rod Steiger
2.8
Ninotchka
Melvyn Douglas
2.8
Disraeli
George Arliss
2.8
Treasure Island
Wallace Beery
2.8
Raising Arizona
Nicolas Cage
2.8
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Robert Donat
2.8
Mr. Holland's Opus
Richard Dreyfuss
2.8
Network
Peter Finch
2.8
The King's Speech
Colin Firth
2.8
The Grapes of Wrath
Henry Fonda
2.8
My Fair Lady
Rex Harrison
2.8
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Gary Oldman
2.8
In the Heat of the Night
Sidney Poitier
2.8
The Theory of Everything
Eddie Redmayne
2.8
True Grit
John Wayne
+7
Level ∞
Nov 12, 2019
We've reset this quiz to use Oscar nominations instead of an outdated list from AMC. Here's the methodology:

  • 2 points for a Best Actor win
  • 1 point for a Best Supporting Actor win
  • 0.4 points for a Best Actor nomination
  • 0.2 points for a Best Supporting Actor nomination
+1
Level 83
Nov 12, 2019
Just checking these points totals via wikipedia and Paul Newman should have 5.0 instead of 5.4, Dicaprio should have 3.4 instead of 3.8, Kevin Spacey should have 3.0 but has 3.6, Gary Cooper should have 5.2 instead of 6.0 and Jack Nicholson should have 8.0 instead of 9.0. I checked a few other totals and they were all slightly off too. Unless I'm missing something, this quiz might need to be redone.
+1
Level ∞
Nov 13, 2019
Paul Newman:

Best actor: 8 nominations + 1 win = (8*0.4 + 2) = 5.2

Best supporting actor: 1 nomination = 0.2

Total = 5.4

I didn't check the other ones you mentioned, but I used a script so there's a good chance we are accurate unless the source data is wrong.

+3
Level 83
Nov 13, 2019
Ok I see where our difference comes from. Newman got 8 best actor nominations, and from those 8 noms, he lost 7 times and won once. So I was calculating (7*0.4 + 2) + 0.2 for a supporting nomination. Which accounts for our difference. That wiki source counts a win as also being a nomination. I don't know if that's how you meant for it to be calculated, but yeh its all good.
+3
Level ∞
Nov 13, 2019
I thought that might be the difference. Thanks for checking.
+1
Level 79
Nov 20, 2019
I wondered how Richard Burton missed being on the list. He had a lot of nominations - six best actor and one supporting - but never winning puts him just under with 2.6 (if I did the math correctly.) It's hard to believe he never won an Oscar.
+1
Level 69
Dec 6, 2019
Burton and O'Toole were tied for the most nominations without any wins for a long time. Then, O'Toole won a Life Achievement Award and an 8th nomination 24 years after Burton's death.

Part of what makes this interesting is that, in one case, they were both nominated for the same film: Becket.

+2
Level 80
Nov 12, 2019
Fun quiz! (Even though I did lousy.)
+2
Level 65
Nov 20, 2019
If Day-Lewis did more than one movie every three years, he would run away with the top spot. Nicholson is great, but he is no match for Daniel Day-Lewis.
+1
Level 83
Nov 20, 2019
Since Day-Lewis is retired and Nicholson hasn't been in anything in the last couple years, I don't think it's going to change.
+2
Level 65
Nov 20, 2019
Day-Lewis retired once before and then came back. He's still in his 50's, so it's possible he'll act again if the right script comes along...especially if Paul Thomas Anderson can find something for him to do, but he also seems pretty indifferent to the idea of being a movie star, so who knows. Nicholson is in his 80's and there are persistent rumors that he has disappeared from the screen because age has withered his mind and his memory, so I don't think we'll see him act again.
+1
Level 83
Nov 20, 2019
I guess that’s a good point. Actors don’t always stay retired. Look at Joe Pesci in The Irishman (which was great by the way). And at this point I think we can agree that Nicholson’s pretty much retired already so I think there’s very little chance of him getting nominated again.
+1
Level 68
Nov 20, 2019
Randomly tried "Douglas" to try to perhaps catch Kirk or Michael and ended up scoring for Melvyn.
+1
Level 67
Nov 20, 2019
I didn't do very well, but I typed "Cage" as a joke towards the end, and was shocked to find him actually on the list.
+6
Level 65
Nov 20, 2019
He is really overhated. Some of his performances are ridiculous, but he can be really good in the right role. What I think is most admirable about him is that he brings *everything* he has to every role he's in, whether it's Oscar bait or some nonsensical action movie. There are much better actors -- Pacino, Nicholson, De Niro, even Tom Hanks in Da Vinci Code -- who clearly mail it in when they're doing a movie they don't find very interesting. Nicolas Cage gives it 150% every time, which is a big part of what makes him so funny. He's needlessly intense in lightweight movies, especially action movies, in which everyone else is going at about half-speed because they know the dialogue is preposterous and the set pieces will steal the show anyway. But to watch Cage, you'd think The Rock was King Lear.
+1
Level 72
Nov 30, 2019
Great quiz - Will we see one for actresses and directors soon??
+1
Level ∞
Feb 11, 2020
Here's the one for actresses.
+1
Level 71
Feb 17, 2020
I know there has to be a metric used to create a list like this but when you have the likes of Cary Grant missing from a Greatest Hollywood Actors list but others who are not old enough to compare by length and, frankly, talent it's a bogus list. Considering there are greats that were never nominated and flash in the pans that have won, Oscars is never a reason to mark someone as the best.
+1
Level 73
May 8, 2020
Nice to see Walter Brennan on a best actors list for a change.