10. “The Shining” (1980) Jack Torrance
As Nicholson plays the family-man-turned-homicidal-maniac, the drive to crazytown isn’t a long one; even at the beginning, he’s full of none-too-latent hostility and violence. Still, there’s not a whole lot in modern cinema that’s more thoroughly terrifying than the full-blown psychotic Nicholson on his final rampage.
11. “Prizzi’s Honor” (1985) Charley Partanna
It can be hard for someone smart to play stupid, but Nicholson is convincing (and very funny) as a lovestruck hitman in John Huston’s sly Mafia satire.
12. “Carnal Knowledge” (1971) Jonathan
In this brutally frank tour of the sexual revolution from the point of view of two male pals (romantic Art Garfunkel and more blatantly misogynistic Nicholson), director Mike Nichols tells you more about men’s secret hearts than you ever wanted to know. Nicholson’s first of four films to date for Nichols, it’s a hard one to watch, thanks to Nicholson’s candid cruelty.