In our humble opinion Jack Nicholson is one of the finest actors of all time. Nominated for twelve Oscars and winner of three, he is one of only two actors who has been nominated in every decade from the sixties to the naughties (Michael Caine is the other). His presence on screen is enormous and he is credited in over 75 movies.
Jack Nicholson is fast approaching 80 and here is our top five tribute to this giant of the silver screen.
5. Anger Management (2003)
Adam Sandler (Dave Buznik) plays a businessman sent for anger management sessions with Jack Nicholson (Dr. Buddy Rydell). In this comedy romp, Buznik is actuall a mild mannered soul and Rydell is an unpredictable psychopath. Some excellent role reversal. Despite the quality of the cast, this is not a great movie. It is, however, another magnificent Jack Nicholson performance and worth watch for that alone.
4. Terms of Endearment (1983)
One of Jack Nicholsons award winning roles (Best Actor in a Supporting Role), this is a comedy/drama about a mother/daughter relationship. As a chick flick, it works; it is often the benchmark against which chick flicks are measured. But’s it’s more. Jack Nicholson plays a retired astronaut which lifts the film into a full character study movie. Watch this movie not just for Nicholson but for all the other excellent performances as well.
3. Hoffa (1992)
Hoffa is a biopic of the infamous American labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa with Nicholson in the title role. Hoffa’s story is nothing if not complex. He had little trouble straying onto the wrong side of the law; he justified this to himself as the Kennedy family fortune was not entirely legally earned. Playing against Danny De Vito, this is another masterful Nicholson performance for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination.
2. Batman (1989)
This is a Tim Burton masterpiece which kick-started the ongoing movie industry passion for comic book heroes. Michael Keaton is a simmering Batman, Kim Basinger provides the glamour and Jack Nicholson is the larger than life Joker (another nominated performance). The Danny Elfman score is interwoven with music from the eponymous Prince album. If for no other reason, watch this version of Batman for Jack Nicholsons laugh.
1. The Shining (1980)
The earliest of our top five choices, the Shining was a true horror movie directed by the late great Stanley Kubrick. Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a writer whos descent into madness is suffered by his wife and psychic son. The scene where Nicholson takes an axe to a door to get at his family with the immortal line “Here’s Johnny” is a result Kubrick allowing Nicholson considerable licence to ad lib. The question is why does the character Jack call himself Johnny. The answer is that Nicholson was making reference to the opening of the Johnny Carson Show. As a leading movie in the horror genre, we strongly recommend a viewing of this seminal Jack Nicholson performance.