25 best Oscar-winning performances of all time

We’re in the 86th annual Oscar voting window and two weeks from today, we’ll know the champions of the 2014 Academy Awards. Winners in the performance categories seem to be all lined up, though we’ve gotten a surprise in those four arenas the last couple of years. Maybe we’ll get a few this year, too, but come what may, a quartet (or maybe more if there’s a tie – who knows, given the events of this season) will join the echelon of Oscar winning actors dating back to inaugural victors Emil Jannings and Janet Gaynor on March 2.

With that in mind, HitFix’s awards staff put our heads together to come up with a list of the best of, well, the best. We dug through the 325 actors and actresses to win (competitive) Academy Awards for screen performances over the years and we were left with 25 sterling examples from AMPAS’ gallery of titans – well, in our opinion, anyway. Click through the gallery story below to see who came out on top and feel free to offer your thoughts and own picks in the comments section below.

Oh, and in the way of a teaser, the handful of names that juuuuust missed the list include Sissy Spacek (“Coal Miner’s Daughter”), Faye Dunaway (“Network”), Liza Minelli (“Cabaret”), Dianne Wiest (“Bullets Over Broadway”), Cloris Leachman (“The Last Picture Show”) and Philip Seymoure Hoffman (“Capote”). If those top-notch performances couldn’t squeeze in, who did?