Top Five… Jack Nicholson Oscar-nominated performances


Jack is the daddy of the Oscars. No man has been nominated more than him. He’s been nominated 12 times, has won three, has been criminally overlooked a few times (The Shining, Batman, The Departed) and believe it or not has even appeared in some crap (Anger Management). It was a tough job picking his five best, but someone’s gotta do it…

5. Easy Rider

This film might have been all about Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, but while the two were bickering over creative differences, as egos do, Jack sails in in classic Jack style, takes the Oscar nod, and leaves. The character of George Hanson may not even appear until halfway through the film, and clocks out well before the end thanks to a well-placed machete, but it was enough to earn Jack the first of his Academy award nominations.

4. A Few Good Men

Jack Nicholson plays Jack Nicholson. Normally an insult for an actor, but not here. Nobody plays the bastard schtum military big wig like Nicholson, and boy does he suit that uniform. The perfect antagonist to Cruise’s enthusiasm. The film’s not as good as 12 Angry Men, though.

3. As Good as It Gets

Jack Nicholson plays Jack Nicholson again, but this time he is clearly having too much fun. Never has homophobia been so hilarious. Of course, Melvin Udall isn’t really homophobic, he’s just a p***k. Only one actor could make the audience sympathise with someone who hates everyone. His genuine efforts to understand why Helen Hunt’s Carol rejects him is as heart-wrenchingly endearing as watching a kitten repeatedly try to climb up a slide the wrong way.

2. Chinatown

He’s got the hat, he’s got the suit, he’s got the tie; all he needs is the mac with the upturned collar and the newspaper with the eye-holes in it. You might be forgiven for thinking Jack’s JJ Gittes is going to fall into the oh-so-gaping stereotypical private eye. But what he does instead is put in the performance that turned him from star into mega-star. It was all uphill from there, his next stop being the final one on this list. If Tom Cruise had’ve demanded the truth the way Jack does, he might have got his answers earlier.

1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Hmmm… we need someone to play a character who is a bit insane, who isn’t really certifiably insane, but goes into an insane asylum anyway, and then sort of goes proper insane in the end… who should we get? This film won all Big Five Academy Awards (It Happened One Night was the only movie to do it beforehand) – Best Actor for Jack, as well as Best Actress, Director, Screenplay, and Picture. Actually, the latter four were probably because of Jack too.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE OSCAR-NOMINATED JACK NICHOLSON PERFORMANCES?

TOP FIVES ARCHIVE

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16 Responses to “Top Five… Jack Nicholson Oscar-nominated performances”

  1. The Shining? The Shining? The Shining?

  2. I don’t mean to be a d*** here, but in my opinion I will take About Schmidt over Easy Rider any day. Mostly because of Nicholson who is amazing in that film, and also Chinatown was great I’m glad you acknowledged that.

  3. am not one to defend Ross McD’s writing Heather, but in fairness to him Jack Nicholson wasnt nominated for The Shining
    criminal I know, but true

  4. I quite liked Prizzi’s Honour… maybe in place of A Few Good Men, which is a slightly above average performance, elevated by “the speech”.

  5. I’m with Dan the Man on this one, I thought he was great in About Schmidt. But then again, he did play R.P. MacMurphy.

  6. Great list. Jack is my favorite actor, As Good As It Gets is really just incredible. I still believe he should have won for “A Few Good Men” as he really does scene steal in that film.

  7. Isn’t it weird that each time Jack won the Oscar his leading actress did too?

  8. Fair enough, but you’ve got to be joking about Jack’s “Batman” schtick.

  9. Why was he never nominated for The Shining or The Departed? Seriously, what the hell happened there?

  10. There’s films he wasn’t nominated for that deserve to be on here… The Shining obviously. I don’t think The Departed was an Oscar role but was fun to watch. I think he was clearly the best thing in Easy Rider but that film did nothing for me… it’s just before my time people… plus, any movie that refers to pot as “smoke” or “grass” just bugs me! :)

  11. Of all the acting roles to be nominated for The Departed: DiCaprio, Damon, Nicholson, Sheen and they picked Mark Wahlberg(granted it’s a fun role but wtf?).

  12. Five Easy pieces is not even mentioned.

  13. Good shout Barry, but we could only include 41.6% of his nominations…

  14. No Five Easy Pieces? What a joke.

  15. I did include five easy pieces! well at least, Jack made them look easy…

  16. What was the question? OK, well everyone hates me when I do this, but I still think he is brilliant in Ironweed, and the Pledge. However to play NICE, 1-2-3, Cuckoo, Chninatown, Shining in any order, 4- The Passenger, 5- As Good as it Gets. As an actor his films take me to places of curiosity, sometimes to visit an era or theme I hope never to know. ….and on the other side I find him much funnier than most of the other charmers in his crowd. Nice article….thnx

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