Ranking the 16 Best, Most Memorable Oscar Performances from the Last 10 Years

Lady Gaga. Beyoncé. Adele. Jennifer Hudson. John LegendCeline Dion.

The biggest powerhouse performers of our time have all graced the stage in celebration of the biggest night in Hollywood: the Academy Awards.

In anticipation of Sunday’s show, in which Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, Dave Grohl, and The Weeknd are slated to perform, we’re taking a look back at the performances from the last decade.

Here is a ranking of the 16 best and most memorable Oscar performances from the past 10 years:

1. Lady Gaga – “The Sound of Music”, “My Favorite Things”, “Edelweiss” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from The Sound of Music (2015)

In which Gaga reminded everyone in one history-making, 10-minute performance that she not only is a remarkable singer and a bona fide chameleon of an artist (in every sense of the word), but also the best, most incredible performer of our generation.

2. Common and John Legend – “Glory” from Selma (2015)

Watching Common and Legend’s beautiful performance of “Selma” (which won Best Original Song) made us cry, just like beautiful criers David Oyelowo and Chris Pine.

david oyelowo oscars glory selma crying gif
chris pine oscars glory selma crying gif

3. Adele – “Skyfall” from Skyfall (2013)

Adele’s performance of “Skyfall” (Best Original Song winner) was, in one word, flawless.

4. Taraji P. Henson and Three 6 Mafia – “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” from Hustle & Flow (2006)

This is the most un-Oscars performance that ever happened – making it all the more brilliant. Cookie (aka Henson) made her singing debut in Hustle & Flow, which also starred her Empire co-star Terrance Howard who was nominated for Best Actor for his role DJay. “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” won for Best Original Song, and Three 6 Mafia became the first hip hop group to win the award (as well as the first hip hop artists to perform at the ceremony).

5. Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson – “Listen,” “Love You I Do,” and “Patience” (with Keith Robinson and Anika Noni Rose) from Dreamgirls (2007)

Beyoncé and JJ-Hud teamed up to sing a medley of some of their best Dreamgirls songs, showing off their raw talent one high note at a time.

Hear the full live version of “Listen” in the video below:

6. Pharrell – “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 (2014)

Pharrell’s performance of “Happy” certainly did get the crowd going and smiling, including an amazing moment in which he danced with the front row (i.e. Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams).

7. Beyoncé and Hugh Jackman – 17-song medley, including “You’re the One That I Want,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Lady Marmalade,” “Mamma Mia,” and more (with Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens) (2009)

Although the pairing of Hugh and Bey (and later editions of former on-screen loves and real life couples, Seyfriend and Cooper, and Efron and Hudgens) does sound weird, it was actually pretty amazing. They sang 17 different songs from a variety of films including West Side StoryGreaseEvita, The Wizard of Oz, and of course, Mamma Mia! and High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

8. Jamia Simone Nash and the Impact Repertory Theatre – “Raise It Up” from August Rush (2008)

Nash, 12-years-old at the time, became the youngest person to ever perform on an Academy Awards telecast in 2008 with her performance of “Raise It Up” from August Rush. “Raise It Up” was up for Best Original song, and performed by both Nash and Impact Repertory Theatre, a Harlem-based African-American youth theatre group.

9. Barbra Streisand – “The Way We Were” (2013)

The remarkable Streisand, who’s also one of the few EGOT winners, took the stage to perform “The Way We Were” during 2013’s annual In Memoriam tribute. The song was the title song to the 1973 movie The Way We Were, starring Streisand and Robert Redford, and it won the award for Best Original song at the 46th Academy Awards in 1974.

10. Queen Latifah – “I’ll Be Seeing You” (2009)

Queen Latifah always delivers a solid performance, and her In Memoriam tribute was no exception.

11. Shirley Bassey – “Goldfinger” from Goldfinger (2013)

Bassey absolutely slayed her “Fifty Years of Bond” tribute performance.

12. Celine Dion – “Smile” (2011)

Dion performed the Nat King Cole/Diana Ross/Michael Jacksonrecorded single during the annual In Memoriam tribute, projecting her goddess ways and gorgeous voice, per usual.

13. Idina Menzel – “Frozen” from Frozen (2014)

I mean, John Travolta’s intro aside (lol), Menzel’s performance of “Frozen” appealed to all audiences young and old.

12. Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová – “Falling Slowly” from Once (2008)

These two were the talk of the town in 2008 for their gorgeous duet.

15. Pink – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from Wizard of Oz (2014)

We loved Pink’s no frills performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”


16. Gwyneth Paltrow – “Coming Home” from Country Strong (2011)

We just had to include this one. It was, after all, one of the few saving graces from the trainwreck that was the 2011 Franco-Hathaway Oscars (which is super bleak, all things considered…).