You’re Never too Old for a Hollywood DuelApril 22nd, 2012 by Barak
This week two Hollywood giants are celebrating their birthdays – Jack Nicholson (75) and Al Pacino (72). Both are just about at the same age and hold the same prestigious status as two of the greatest actors who ever lived. While the last great movie by either wasn’t made very recently, we still think they deserve a high stakes head-to-head battle to determine, once and for all, which of them is the better actor??
An almost scientific way to determine the quality of an actor’s career is to see how well he collaborated with Adam Sandler. Jack and Jill was scorned, but my unpopular opinion is that Al Pacino was absolutely hilarious playing a zany version of himself. Anger Management wasn’t the critics favorite either, but it offered some very funny scenes, including Nicholson singing I Feel Pretty while being stuck in a traffic jam, forcing Adam Sandler’s character to sing along. I call it a draw.
There is no way there will ever be a trilogy better than The Godfather trilogy (unless someone will make Mary Poppins 2 and 3.) Jack Nicholson’s unofficial Bob Rafelson trilogy, which included Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens and Blood and Wine, is a pretty good one, but the Corleone family made me an offer I just couldn’t refuse. 1-0 Pacino.
Insomnia was as good as the Norwegian movie on which it was based. The Departed wasn’t as good as the amazing Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong movie on which it is based. Nevertheless, The Departed was still better than Insomnia and even earned Martin Scorsese his first Oscar. 1-1 draw.
Pacino’s performance in Scarface is probably ranked 1st place in the overacting hall of fame (if such an hall of fame ever existed) and that’s precisely what makes it so great and fun to watch over and over again while shouting along “Say hello to my little friend!” Terms of Endearment is one of the most overrated and unjustified Oscar winners for Best Picture. Even Jack Nicholson doesn’t save it. Scarface shoots Terms of Endearment in the face and wins this round. 2-1 Pacino.
Dog Day is one of the most captivating bank robbery/hostage situation movies ever, and Pacino proves how versatile he can be, portraying a gay criminal 4 years after portraying Michael Corleone in The Godfather 2. The Shining is a Stanley Kubrick masterpiece, a horror movie better than Jaws and Alien put together. I regret saying that, because Jaws is awesome. But I just had no other way to prove that The Shining should be the winner here, which it is. 2-2.
This is a tough one. Serpico is one of the most famous cop movies ever, with a memorable performance by Pacino as an honest and determined law enforcer with a very honorable moral code. But One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is simply one of the greatest movies ever created in the history of the world and the worlds beyond it. Serpico loses, and it can use the famous line from this round’s winner: “At least I tried”. A dramatic overturn: 3-2 Nicholson.
Al Pacino’s TV movie was a solid biography of the extremely controversial Jack Kevorkian. In About Schmidt, an excellent and moving character study, Nicholson gave one of his absolute best performances. Jack (Nicholson) beats Jack (Kevorkian) this time, or gives him euthanasia if you like. 4-2 Nicholson.
Any Given Sunday (1999) VS. As Good As It Gets (1997)
Any Given Sunday was a very good sports movie with a convincing performance from Pacino. As Good As It Gets was one of the best feel good movies of the 90’s with an absolutely fantastic performance from Nicholson and therefore it is the winner in this round. 5-2 Nicholson, this is getting embarrassing for Pacino.
Heat is a strong contender for being the best movie De Niro and Pacino collaborated on, and just to remind you, they were together in The Godfather 2, so that says a lot. Prizzi’s Honor is a darkly humored John Huston movie that shows a battle between Nicholson and Kathleen Turner’s character, which Nicholson wins. However, Nicholson does not beat Heat. 5-3 Nicholson. Comeback for Pacino? Not if you’re good at math and see that there’s only one more movie-battle left.
First of all I’ll just clarify the connection – in Scent of a Woman Pacino uses his nose to smell the women (that was the more obvious one) and in Chinatown there’s that unforgettable scene where Roman Polanski cuts Jack Nicholson’s nose. As for the tough decision I have to make here, I’m gonna go with a draw. I really love both movies.
Conclusion: 5-3 in favor of Jack Nicholson which is the better actor apparently. I guess the fact that he worked harder (75 movie credits for Nicholson in comparison to only 49 for Pacino) benefited him in this case, and that should be a lesson to us all: Work hard and maybe one day you’ll win a completely insignificant blog post competition.
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