Top 5 Jack Nicholson Movies


“You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” Over the years, Jack Nicholson has become one of the most beloved actors in American film history, with a filmography spanning over 40 years, including countless iconic roles & lines! In our Top 5 Jack Nicholson Movies list, we celebrate some of his greatest achievements!

1) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Godfather film
  • Upon admittance to a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients to take on the oppressive head nurse
  • Second film ever to win all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director, and Screenplay) following It Happened One Night in 1934
  • No. 33 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Movies list
  • Currently has a 96% "Certified Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes
  • Many extras were authentic mental patients

2) Chinatown

Chinatown driving red car
  • Inspired by the California Water Wars, a series of disputes over southern California water at the beginning of the 20th century, by which Los Angeles interests secured water rights in the Owens Valley
  • The 1975 Academy Awards saw it nominated eleven times, with an Oscar going to Robert Towne for Best Original Screenplay
  • The Golden Globe Awards honored it for Best Drama, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay
  • Ranked as the greatest film of all-time by The Guardian in 2008
  • The Chinatown (1974) screenplay is now regarded as being one of the most perfect screenplays and is now a main teaching point in screen writing seminars and classes everywhere.

3) The Shining

The Shining - Jack Nicholson looking insane
  • Jack Torrance, a writer and recovering alcoholic, takes a job as an off-season caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel and gradually descends into madness
  • Earned the #29 spot on AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills list
  • Jack Torrance was ranked the 25th most evil villain in film history according to AFI
  • Named the all-time scariest film by Channel 4
  • The script was constantly changing on set, sometimes several times a day. The cast got very irritated by this, especially Jack Nicholson. Whenever the production team would give the cast copies of the script to memorize, Jack Nicholson would throw his away without even looking at it, as he knew that it was only going to change again.

4) The Departed

The Departed - Frank point a gun
  • Irish Mob boss "Frank" Costello plants Colin Sullivan as a mole within the Massachusetts State Police. Simultaneously, the police assign undercover state trooper William "Billy" Costigan to infiltrate Costello's crew
  • Won four Oscars at the 79th Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Scorsese), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing
  • Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times named it the best film of the 2000s
  • Grossed $289,835,021 worldwide, of which $132,384,315 was from North America
  • This is the movie with the most uses of the word "f" and its derivatives (237) to win the Best Picture Oscar

5) Five Easy Pieces

Five Easy Pieces film
  • Tells the story of a surly oil rig worker, whose rootless, blue-collar existence belies his privileged youth as a piano prodigy. When Bobby learns that his father is dying, he goes home to see him, bringing along his pregnant waitress girlfriend
  • Received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay
  • Selected to be preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry in 2000
  • Roger Ebert gave the film a perfect 4 star review, claiming Nicholson’s character was one of the most unforgettable in American film
  • Jack Nicholson wrote some of his own lines for the monologue Bobby says to his father

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