Jack Nicholson Movies Ranked

Barbara Merkley

(Photo by Sony Pictures/ courtesy Everett Collection)

We’re ranking the movies of legendary actor Jack Nicholson! We start with the list with his Certified Fresh films, which are some of the “best” movies out there, like Best Picture winners (The Departed, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), arguably the best horror movie ever (The Shining), best counterculture movie (Easy Rider), and, of course, some best acting Oscar winners, like As Good As It Gets and Terms on Endearment. Then move on to his Fresh movies, like Hal Ashby’s raucous The Last Detail, later period rom-com Something’s Gotta Give, and the superhero landmark Batman. Some of his Rotten films with high audience marks include Anger Management, The Bucket List, and The Evening Star.


Adjusted Score: 105859%

Critics Consensus: As bruised and cynical as the decade that produced it, this noir classic benefits from Robert Towne’s brilliant screenplay, director Roman Polanski’s steady hand, and wonderful performances from Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.

Synopsis: When Los Angeles private eye J.J. “Jake” Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired by Evelyn Mulwray to investigate her husband’s activities,… [More]


Adjusted Score: 101762%

Critics Consensus: Blockbuster dramatist James L. Brooks delivers with Broadcast News, fully entertaining with deft, deep characterization.

Synopsis: Intelligent satire of American television news. A highly strung news producer finds herself strangely attracted to a vapid anchorman even… [More]


Adjusted Score: 103677%

Critics Consensus: Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher are worthy adversaries in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, with Miloš Forman’s more grounded and morally ambiguous approach to Ken Kesey’s surrealistic novel yielding a film of outsized power.

Synopsis: When Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) gets transferred for evaluation from a prison farm to a mental institution, he assumes… [More]


Adjusted Score: 102825%

Critics Consensus: Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast, The Departed is a thoroughly engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality we come to expect from Martin Scorsese.

Synopsis: South Boston cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes under cover to infiltrate the organization of gangland chief Frank Costello (Jack… [More]


Adjusted Score: 92379%

Critics Consensus: Brawny in both intellect and scope, Reds is an intimate epic that captures the tumult of revolutionary change and the passion of those navigating through it.

Synopsis: American journalist John Reed (Warren Beatty) journeys to Russia to document the Boleshevik Revolution and returns a revolutionary. His fervor… [More]


Adjusted Score: 93082%

Critics Consensus: An important touchstone of the New Hollywood era, Five Easy Pieces is a haunting portrait of alienation that features one of Jack Nicholson’s greatest performances.

Synopsis: Rejecting his cultured upper-class background as a classical pianist, Robert Dupea (Jack Nicholson) opts for a blue-collar existence, working in… [More]


Adjusted Score: 93514%

Critics Consensus: Antonioni’s classic, a tale of lonely, estranged characters on a journey though the mysterious landscapes of identity, shimmers with beauty and uncertainty.

Synopsis: David Locke (Jack Nicholson) is a world-weary American journalist who has been sent to cover a conflict in northern Africa,… [More]


Adjusted Score: 92054%

Critics Consensus: In this funny, touching character study, Nicholson gives one of the best performances of his career.

Synopsis: Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) has arrived at several of life’s crossroads all at the same time. To begin with, he… [More]


Adjusted Score: 92783%

Critics Consensus: Though it deviates from Stephen King’s novel, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a chilling, often baroque journey into madness — exemplified by an unforgettable turn from Jack Nicholson.

Synopsis: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block…. [More]


Adjusted Score: 88585%

Critics Consensus: James L. Brooks and Jack Nicholson, doing what they do best, combine smart dialogue and flawless acting to squeeze fresh entertainment value out of the romantic-comedy genre.

Synopsis: Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is an obsessive-compulsive writer of romantic fiction who’s rude to everyone he meets, including his gay… [More]


Adjusted Score: 87614%

Critics Consensus: Disturbing and sardonic, Prizzi’s Honor excels at black comedy because director John Huston and his game ensemble take the farce deadly seriously.

Synopsis: For Charley Partanna (Jack Nicholson), life in the Prizzi family is good as long as he honors the wishes of… [More]


Adjusted Score: 88440%

Critics Consensus: An old-fashioned courtroom drama with a contemporary edge, A Few Good Men succeeds on the strength of its stars, with Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and especially Jack Nicholson delivering powerful performances that more than compensate for the predictable plot.

Synopsis: Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is a military lawyer defending two U.S. Marines charged with killing a fellow Marine at… [More]


Adjusted Score: 89204%

Critics Consensus: Edgy and seminal, Easy Rider encapsulates the dreams, hopes, and hopelessness of 1960s counterculture.

Synopsis: Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper), two Harley-riding hippies, complete a drug deal in Southern California and decide to… [More]


Adjusted Score: 81733%

Critics Consensus: Though its subject matter is grim and may make viewers queasy, The Pledge features an excellent, subtle performance by Jack Nicholson.

Synopsis: On the day of his retirement, detective Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson) accepts a gift — an airline ticket to Mexico…. [More]


Adjusted Score: 81415%

Critics Consensus: A classic tearjerker, Terms of Endearment isn’t shy about reaching for the heartstrings — but is so well-acted and smartly scripted that it’s almost impossible to resist.

Synopsis: Widow Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter, Emma (Debra Winger), have a strong bond, but Emma marries teacher Flap… [More]


Adjusted Score: 94205%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: In the American West, Willet Gashade (Warren Oates), a former bounty hunter, and Coley Boyard (Will Hutchins), his dimwitted partner,… [More]


Adjusted Score: 100148%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: In this musical, Daisy Gamble (Barbra Streisand) decides she’ll give hypnosis a try to help her stop smoking, at the… [More]


Adjusted Score: 92599%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Seymour Krelboin (Jonathan Haze) works in the Skid Row flower shop owned by Mr. Mushnik (Mel Welles). In his spare… [More]


Adjusted Score: 50247%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Cowboys Wes (Jack Nicholson), Vern (Cameron Mitchell) and Otis (Tom Filer) are journeying through Texas when they have the unfortunate… [More]


Adjusted Score: 90838%

Critics Consensus: Very profane, very funny, very ’70s: Director Hal Ashby lets Jack Nicholson and the cast run loose, creating a unique dramedy that’s far out to sea.

Synopsis: When sailor Larry Meadows (Randy Quaid) is sentenced to eight years in a New Hampshire prison, Navy lifers Billy Buddusky… [More]


Adjusted Score: 89645%

Critics Consensus: Although it comes lopsidedly from the male gaze, Carnal Knowledge is a sexually frank and ferociously well-acted battle between the sexes.

Synopsis: Nice guy Sandy (Art Garfunkel) and charming schemer Jonathan (Jack Nicholson) meet as college roommates in the late 1940s. Sandy… [More]


Adjusted Score: 82944%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: When vigilante land baron David Braxton (John McLiam) hangs one of the best friends of cattle rustler Tom Logan (Jack… [More]


Adjusted Score: 66379%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Itinerant troublemaker Frank Chambers (Jack Nicholson) has a meal at a roadside restaurant and meets devastating femme fatale Cora Papadakis… [More]


Adjusted Score: 76174%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: For six excruciating years, Freddy Gale (Jack Nicholson) has fantasized about taking bloody revenge on John Booth (David Morse), the… [More]


Adjusted Score: 49827%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: According to the laws of the Old West town where criminal Henry Lloyd Moon (Jack Nicholson) is about to be… [More]


Adjusted Score: 77221%

Critics Consensus: Though it occasionally stumbles into sitcom territory, Something’s Gotta Give is mostly a smart, funny romantic comedy, with sharp performances from Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, and Keanu Reeves.

Synopsis: When aging womanizer Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) and his young girlfriend, Marin (Amanda Peet), arrive at her family’s beach house… [More]


Adjusted Score: 78028%

Critics Consensus: An eerie, haunting spectacle, Batman succeeds as dark entertainment, even if Jack Nicholson’s Joker too often overshadows the title character.

Synopsis: Having witnessed his parents’ brutal murder as a child, millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) fights crime in Gotham City… [More]


Adjusted Score: 72773%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: David Staebler (Jack Nicholson) is a sullen radio personality who reconnects with his scheming brother, Jason (Bruce Dern), in Atlantic… [More]


Adjusted Score: 63838%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Shortly after their TV show closed its final curtain, the Monkees took to the big screen in this mind-bending experiment… [More]


Adjusted Score: 71354%

Critics Consensus: Tommy is as erratic and propulsive as a game of pinball, incorporating The Who’s songs into an irreverent odyssey with the visual imagination that only director Ken Russell can conjure.

Synopsis: After seeing his stepfather murder his father during an argument over his mother, young Tommy goes into shock, suddenly becoming… [More]


Adjusted Score: 71894%

Critics Consensus: A wickedly funny tale of three witches and their duel with the Devil, fuelled by some delicious fantasy and arch comedic performances.

Synopsis: Three small-town friends, Alexandra (Cher), Jane (Susan Sarandon) and Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer), each having lost the man in their lives,… [More]


Adjusted Score: 65196%

Critics Consensus: It makes frustratingly facile work of its thorny premise, but Jack Nicholson’s gritty lead performance keeps The Border worth watching.

Synopsis: Charlie Smith (Jack Nicholson) barely scrapes by on his low salary, but his hectoring wife, Marcy (Valerie Perrine), is anxious… [More]


Adjusted Score: 66150%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Private investigator and war veteran Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired by real estate developer Jake Berman (Harvey Keitel) for… [More]


Adjusted Score: 65225%

Critics Consensus: Wolf misses the jugular after showing flashes of killer instinct early on, but engaging stars and deft direction make this a unique horror-romance worth watching.

Synopsis: After being bitten by a wolf in rural Vermont, aging book editor Will Randall (Jack Nicholson) finds himself full of… [More]


Adjusted Score: 35676%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: A basketball star (William Tepper) beds a professor’s wife (Karen Black), while his anti-war roommate (Michael Margotta) goes mad…. [More]


Adjusted Score: 62200%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: A safecracker, Victor Spanksy (Michael Caine), a philandering husband, Alex Gates (Jack Nicholson), an angry stepson and an illegal immigrant… [More]


Adjusted Score: 19837%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: An Irish Roman Catholic youth (Christopher Knight) grows up poor and tough in 1920s Chicago…. [More]


Adjusted Score: 59161%

Critics Consensus: Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep play masterfully off each, but Ironweed‘s unrelenting bleakness proves to be more monotonous than compelling.

Synopsis: In Depression-era Albany, N.Y., erstwhile baseball star Francis Phelan (Jack Nicholson) has become an alcoholic vagabond after guilt over accidentally… [More]


Adjusted Score: 58957%

Critics Consensus: Tim Burton’s alien invasion spoof faithfully recreates the wooden characters and schlocky story of cheesy ’50s sci-fi and Ed Wood movies — perhaps a little too faithfully for audiences.

Synopsis: A fleet of Martian spacecraft surrounds the world’s major cities and all of humanity waits to see if the extraterrestrial… [More]


Adjusted Score: 53440%

Critics Consensus: Jack Nicholson embodies Hoffa with malevolent relish, but a dearth of meaningful insight knocks this crime epic off the mark by a nose.

Synopsis: Dramatized biography of the infamous American union boss Jimmy Hoffa, following four decades of his life, from his rise as… [More]


Adjusted Score: 39692%

Critics Consensus: Despite an astonishing collection of talent across the board, Heartburn‘s aimless plot inspires mild indigestion instead of romantic ardor.

Synopsis: Rachel Samstat (Meryl Streep), a New York food critic, beds Mark Forman (Jack Nicholson), a Washington, D.C., newspaper columnist. The… [More]


Adjusted Score: 48103%

Critics Consensus: Thought not without its funny moments, Anger Management is ultimately stale and disappointingly one-note, especially considering its capable cast.

Synopsis: Dave Buznik (Adam Sandler) is usually a mild-mannered nonconfrontational guy. But after an altercation aboard an airplane, he is remanded… [More]


Adjusted Score: 48384%

Critics Consensus: Not even the earnest performances of the two leads can rescue The Bucket List from its schmaltzy script.

Synopsis: Billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) are complete strangers, until fate lands them in… [More]


Adjusted Score: 41399%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: In this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final, unfinished novel, Monroe Stahr (Robert De Niro) is a legendary hollywood producer… [More]


Adjusted Score: 40446%

Critics Consensus: The Trip‘s groovy effects and compelling message can’t overcome the rough acting, long meandering stretches, and pedestrian plot.

Synopsis: Paul (Peter Fonda), a director saddened by his failed marriage and unsatisfied with his work, is looking to start over…. [More]


Adjusted Score: 19877%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Lt. Duvalier (Jack Nicholson), a French soldier, loses contact with his unit and is forced to wander alone near the… [More]


Adjusted Score: 35748%

Critics Consensus: How Do You Know boasts a quartet of likeable leads — and they deserve better than this glib, overlong misfire from writer/director James L. Brooks.

Synopsis: Lisa Jorgenson’s (Reese Witherspoon) entire life has been defined by softball, but at 31, she is deemed too old to… [More]


Adjusted Score: 8235%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: A gas-station attendant (Jack Nicholson) joins a motorcycle gang and moves in on the leader’s (Adam Roarke) girlfriend (Sabrina Scharf)…. [More]


Adjusted Score: 25284%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: A spunky woman (Shirley MacLaine) copes with her troubled adult grandchildren, feuds with an enemy and has a fling with… [More]


Adjusted Score: 9589%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: In the 1920s, it is against the law to transport a woman across state lines for “immoral purposes.” But Nicky… [More]


Adjusted Score: 6381%

Critics Consensus: Man Trouble has brilliant stars and the germ of an interesting idea in its favor, which makes the scattered, unfunny results even more of a disappointment.

Synopsis: Harry Bliss (Jack Nicholson) operates a struggling security service and contends with numerous personal problems, including a faltering marriage. When… [More]

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