Greatest Film Performances by Year (US/UK) 1928 - 1939

1939
  1. James Stewart - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  2. Vivien Leigh - Gone With the Wind
  3. Clark Gable - Gone With the Wind
  4. Laurence Olivier - Wuthering Heights
  5. Greta Garbo - Ninotchka
  6. Bette Davis - Dark Victory
  7. Robert Donat - Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  8. Thomas Mitchell - Stagecoach
  9. Judy Garland - The Wizard of Oz
10. John Wayne - Stagecoach
11. Claude Rains - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
12. Ray Bolger - The Wizard of Oz
13. Greer Garson - Goodbye, Mr. Chips
14. Henry Fonda - Young Mr. Lincoln
15. Olivia de Havilland - Gone with the Wind
16. Mickey Rooney - Babes in Arms
17. Irene Dunne - Love Affair
18. Thomas Mitchell - Gone With the Wind
19. Geraldine Fitzgerald - Wuthering Heights
20. Hattie McDaniel - Gone With the Wind

1938
  1. Cary Grant - Bringing Up Baby
  2. Bette Davis - Jezebel
  3. James Cagney - Angels with Dirty Faces
  4. Spencer Tracy - Boys Town
  5. Katharine Hepburn - Holiday
  6. Leslie Howard - Pygmalion
  7. Katharine Hepburn - Bringing Up Baby
  8. Margaret Sullavan - Three Comrades
  9. Robert Donat - The Citadel
10. Wendy Hiller - Pygmalion
11. Michael Redgrave - The Lady Vanishes
12. Mickey Rooney - Boys Town
13. Fay Bainter - White Banners
14. Norma Shearer - Marie Antoinette
15. Walter Brennan - Kentucky
16. Alice Brady - In Old Chicago
17. Errol Flynn - The Adventures of Robin Hood
18. Charles Boyer - Algiers
19. Basil Rathbone - The Adventures of Robin Hood
20. Robert Morley - Marie Antoinette

1937
  1. Spencer Tracy - Captains Courageous
  2. Luise Rainer - The Good Earth
  3. Robert Montgomery - Night Must Fall
  4. Cary Grant - The Awful Truth
  5. Irene Dunne - The Awful Truth
  6. Paul Muni - The Good Earth
  7. Charles Boyer - Conquest
  8. Fredric March - A Star Is Born
  9. Barbara Stanwyck - Stella Dallas
10. Janet Gaynor - A Star Is Born
11. Paul Muni - The Life of Emile Zola
12. Ronald Colman - The Prisoner of Zenda
13. Joseph Schildkraut - The Life of Emile Zola
14. May Whitty - Night Must Fall
15. Thomas Mitchell - The Hurricane
16. Ralph Bellamy - The Awful Truth
17. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. - The Prisoner of Zenda
18. Victor Moore - Make Way for Tomorrow
19. Anne Shirley - Stella Dallas
20. Lionel Barrymore - Captains Courageous

1936
  1. Charlie Chaplin - The Modern Times
  2. Gary Cooper - Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
  3. Greta Garbo - Camille
  4. Paul Muni - The Story of Louis Pasteur
  5. Luise Rainer - The Great Ziegfeld
  6. Irene Dunne - Theodora Goes Wild
  7. Walter Huston - Dodsworth
  8. Carole Lombard - My Man Godfrey
  9. William Powell - My Man Godfrey
10. Spencer Tracy - San Francisco
11. Fred Astaire - Swing Time
12. Ginger Rogers - Swing Time
13. Jean Arthur - Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
14. Walter Brennan - Come and Get It
15. Miriam Hopkins - These Three
16. Gladys George - Valiant Is the Word for Carrie
17. Eugene Pallette - My Man Godfrey
18. Irene Dunne - Show Boat
19. Akim Tamiroff - The General Died at Dawn
20. Alice Brady - My Man Godfrey

1935
  1. Bette Davis - Dangerous
  2. Charles Laughton - Mutiny on the Bounty
  3. Victor McLaglen - The Informer
  4. Katharine Hepburn - Alice Adams
  5. Fred Astaire - Top Hat
  6. Clark Gable - Mutiny on the Bounty
  7. Boris Karloff - The Bride of Frankenstein
  8. Paul Muni - Black Fury
  9. Ginger Rogers - Top Hat
10. Greta Garbo - Anna Karenina
11. Miriam Hopkins - Becky Sharp
12. Groucho Marx - A Night at the Opera
13. Errol Flynn - Captain Blood
14. Robert Donat - The 39 Steps
15. Elisabeth Bergner - Escape Me Never
16. Merle Oberon - The Dark Angel
17. Claudette Colbert - Private Worlds
18. Franchot Tone - Mutiny on the Bounty
19. Elsa Lancaster - The Bride of Frankenstein
20. Olivia de Havilland - Captain Blood

1934
  1. Bette Davis - Of Human Bondage
  2. Clark Gable - It Happened One Night
  3. Claudette Colbert - It Happened One Night
  4. William Powell - The Thin Man
  5. Peter Lorre - The Man Who Knew Too Much
  6. Myrna Loy - The Thin Man
  7. W.C. Fields - It's a Gift
  8. Shirley Temple - Bright Eyes
  9. Stan Laurel - Babes in Toyland
10. Oliver Hardy - Babes in Toyland
11. Frank Morgan - The Affairs of Cellini
12. Norma Shearer - The Barretts of Wimpole Street
13. Grace Moore - One Night of Love
14. Charles Laughton - The Barretts of Wimpole Street
15. John Barrymore - Twentieth Century
16. Victor McLaglen - The Lost Patrol
17. Claudette Colbert - Imitation of Life
18. Marlene Dietrich - The Scarlet Empress
19. Henry Brandon - Babes in Toyland
20. Fredi Washington - Imitation of Life

1933
  1. Katharine Hepburn - Morning Glory
  2. Charles Laughton - The Private Life of Henry VIII
  3. Katharine Hepburn - Little Women
  4. Greta Garbo - Queen Christina
  5. Claude Rains - The Invisible Man
  6. Groucho Marx - Duck Soup
  7. Oliver Hardy - Sons of the Desert
  8. Stan Laurel - Sons of the Desert
  9. Barbara Stanwyck - The Bitter Tea of General Yen
10. Marie Dresser - Dinner at Eight
11. Leslie Howard - Berkeley Square
12. John Barrymore - Counsellor At Law
13. Jean Harlow - Bombshell
14. May Robson - Lady for a Day
15. Jean Harlow - Dinner at Eight
16. Diana Wynyard - Cavalcade
17. Paul Lukas - Little Women
18. James Cagney - Footlight Parade
19. Warner Baxter - 42nd Street
20. Robert Donat - The Private Life of Henry VIII

1932
  1. Paul Muni - I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
  2. Jean Harlow - Red Dust
  3. Paul Muni - Scarface
  4. Greta Garbo - Grand Hotel
  5. Marlene Dietrich - Shanghai Express
  6. John Barrymore - Grand Hotel
  7. Miriam Hopkins - Trouble in Paradise
  8. Herbert Marshall - Trouble in Paradise
  9. Clark Gable - Red Dust
10. Joan Crawford - Grand Hotel
11. Gary Cooper - A Farewell to Arms
12. Marie Dressler - Emma
13. Oliver Hardy - Pack Up Your Troubles
14. Stan Laurel - Pack Up Your Troubles
15. Boris Karloff - The Mummy
16. Johnny Weissmuller - Tarzan the Ape Man
17. Olga Baclanova - Freaks
18. Maurice Chevalier - Love Me Tonight
19. Jeanette MacDonald - Love Me Tonight
20. Joel McCrea - The Most Dangerous Game

1931
  1. Charlie Chaplin - City Lights
  2. James Cagney - The Public Enemy
  3. Helen Hayes - The Sin of Madelon Claudet
  4. Edward G. Robinson - Little Caesar
  5. Fredric March - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  6. Boris Karloff - Frankenstein
  7. Wallace Beery - The Champ
  8. Irene Dunne - Cimarron
  9. Lionel Barrymore - A Free Soul
10. Bela Lugosi - Dracula
11. Ronald Colman - Arrowsmith
12. Barbara Stanwyck - Night Nurse
13. Jackie Cooper - Skippy
14. Alfred Lunt - The Guardsman
15. Lynn Fontanne - The Guardsman
16. Adolphe Menjou - The Front Page
17. Clark Gable - A Free Soul
18. Norma Shearer - A Free Soul
19. Greta Garbo - Mata Hari
20. Jackie Cooper - The Champ

1930
  1. Greta Garbo - Anna Christie
  2. Norma Shearer - The Divorcee
  3. Fredric March - The Royal Family of Broadway
  4. Marie Dressler - Min and Bill
  5. Marlene Dietrich - Morocco
  6. Greta Garbo - Romance
  7. Lew Ayers - All Quiet on the Western Front
  8. Wallace Beery - The Big House
  9. Ruth Chatterton - Sarah and Son
10. Ann Harding - Holiday
11. Nancy Carroll - The Devil's Holiday
12. Norma Shearer - Their Own Desire
13. Louis Wolheim - All Quiet on the Western Front
14. Marie Dressler - Anna Christie
15. Lon Chaney - The Unholy Three
16. Jean Harlow - Hell's Angels
17. George Aliss - The Green Godness
18. Lawrence Tibbett - The Rogue Song
19. Maurice Chevalier - The Big Pond
20. Wallace Beery - Min and Bill

1929
  1. Ronald Colman - Bulldog Drummond
  2. George Arliss - Disraeli
  3. Gloria Swanson - The Trespasser
  4. Mary Pickford - Coquette
  5. Ronald Colman - Condemned
  6. Paul Muni - The Valiant
  7. Ruth Chatterton - Madame X
  8. Maurice Chevalier - The Love Parade
  9. Jeanette MacDonald - The Love Parade
10. Erich von Stroheim - The Great Gabbo
11. Jeanne Eagels - The Letter
12. Oliver Hardy - Big Business
13. Stan Laurel - Big Business
14. George Bancroft - Thunderbolt
15. Chester Morris - Alibi
16. Louis Wolheim - Condemned
17. Anny Ondra - Blackmail
18. Walter Huston - The Virginian
19. Corinne Griffith - The Divine Lady
20. Bessie Love - The Broadway Melody

1928
  1. Emil Jannings - The Last Command
  2. Lillian Gish - The Wind
  3. Charlie Chaplin - The Circus
  4. Gloria Swanson - Sadie Thompson
  5. Conrad Veidt - The Man Who Laughs
  6. Buster Keaton - Steamboat Bill Jr.
  7. Erich von Stroheim - The Wedding March
  8. Warner Baxter - In Old Arizona
  9. Buster Keaton - The Cameraman
10. William Powell - The Last Command
11. Lionel Barrymore - Sadie Thompson
12. Janet Gaynor - Street Angel
13. George Bancroft - The Docks of New York
14. James Murray - The Crowd
15. Richard Barthelmess - The Noose
16. Louis Wolheim - The Racket
17. Lon Chaney - Laugh, Clown, Laugh
18. Betty Compson - The Barker
19. Charles Farrell - Street Angel
20. Louise Dresser - A Ship Comes In


Last Updated: 2019-07-07

Criteria: Film Performances are ranked based on initial and lasting acclaim, popular and cultural recognition, plus influence. In order to qualify for a list the performance has to come from a predominately English-language film produced or co-produced by American or British production companies.