Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Top 5 Movie Guide: Nick Nolte

For the latest Top 5 Movie Guide, we take a look at some titles from the filmography of Nick Nolte, co-star of this weekend's "Parker". Nolte got his start at the Pasadena Playhouse, a historic performing arts venue in California. Along with his performances there, he also appeared in various regional theatre productions. His break though came in 1976 when he appeared in the TV mini-series, "Rich Man, Poor Man". The role earned him much critical praise, and he was soon a sought-after name for many of Hollywood's biggest films.


While the three time Academy Award nominee had had more than his fair share of successes over the years, the lineup of roles he's been considered for or even rejected reads more like a Best-Of list than anything. Though there are many more films that fall into this category, Nolte was originally considered for the roles of Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", Han Solo in "Star Wars", John Rambo in "First Blood", Clark Kent/Superman in "Superman" (1978), and Kurt Russell's eventual role in both "The Thing" and "Escape from New York". While all of these roles never worked out for a variety of reasons, only the roles of Indiana Jones and Snake Plissken were ultimately offered to Nolte; he of course turned both of them down. Who knows where Nolte's career might have gone had some of these roles worked out, but even still, he's managed to make a pretty good name for himself.

We'll refrain from digging into his substance abuse past (he's admittedly been clean and sober now since 2002's infamous mugshot), but I do find it interesting to note that one of his best friends is Gary Busey. Say what you will about either of these men, but I can only imagine the trouble this pair got into back in the day. To be a fly on the wall in that room...

Let's keep the focus on films for now though - hit the jump to see which of Nolte's films resonated as some of our favorites!

Alex Schopp -
Nick Nolte seems to almost always play flawed and damaged characters. He sure does a great job of making me want to root for him though.

     1. Blue Chips (1994)

This is one of the most overlooked sports movies out there. There are aspects that aren't amazing, but the rise and fall story of a high-profile college basketball coach is portrayed perfectly by Nolte. The film is about honor, integrity and morals, and throwing it all away to win. It's such a fine line to walk, and I think most athletes and coaches can relate to these issues in some way, regardless of the stage they've performed. You don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy this movie, but I think you have to be familiar with just how big a deal this type of thing is in college sports today to really appreciate it.
     2. 48 Hrs. (1982)
I feel like this movie has made two or three of my other lists, yet we never talk about it. Is this one of the great forgotten buddy cop movies of all-time?
     3. The Good Thief (2003)
Who doesn't like a one-last-hurrah heist movie? Nolte's character has plenty of problems and has made more than his share of bad life decisions, but maybe it's those things that makes it all that much better when he's finally given reason to turn it around.
     4. Warrior (2011)
Nolte was so deservingly nominated for an Academy Award for this role. The movie itself is great, but Nolte's performance is amazing. He drives most of the plot, and even with his flaws, you really feel for him and want him to overcome his demons.
     5. Cape Fear (1991)
I don't generally find myself thinking, I like "Cape Fear" for Nolte's performance, but he does have a solid role in the film. And while this is the only film that I actually own of the titles on this list, I dropped it lower to make room for films in which I felt Nolte had a larger presence.

Ben Foutch -
I'm more familiar with his 80's-90's works, but have always respected him as an actor. He just normally doesn't take parts in films that I'm really trying see.

     1. 48 Hrs. (1982)

     2. Cape Fear (1991)

     3. Lorenzo's Oil (1992)

     4. Hulk (2003)

     5. Affliction (1997)



Derek Clem -
I feel sort of bad. Most of Nolte's filmography I watched as my parents' video rentals when I was in single digits. I barely remember any of his work. This list has inspired me to go back and take another gander at the man's career.

     1.Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Very moving film. Nolte, along with the rest of the cast is great.
     2. Cape Fear (1991)
De Niro's the reason to watch, But Nolte still does a fine job here.
     3. Hulk (2003)
Nolte isn't necessarily the draw here, but I want to make sure everyone realizes this is the superior film of the Hulk centered movies. It's art. I love how seriously Ang Lee took the source material. One of the most sophisticated looks at a comic book character to date.
     4. Weeds (1987)
This is where things get a little shaky on my list. I want to put the 48 Hrs. movies in these last two spots but they just blend together in my mind. It's been so long since I've seen them that I can't differentiate between the two. So for #4 I have to go with Weeds, a movie I barely remember, but at least remember specific scenes; scenes that include Winston from Ghostbusters singing!
     5. Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)
Again, a movie I barely remember. I mostly remember loving the VHS cover art and zany idea of a homeless guy living with rich people.

Nathan Hinds -

     1. Warrior (2012)

This is miles ahead of everything else on my list. This movie is amazing!
     2. Tropic Thunder (2008)
One of my favorite comedies in the last five years or so.
     3. Hulk (2003)
I feel like I should give this movie a watch again sometime soon. I think it was okay overall, and Nolte's role is really good in it.
     4. U Turn (1997)
This movie is so standard. How has it shown up on two of my lists lately?
     5. Zookeeper (2011)
This movie being on my list means one thing: I haven't seen enough of Nolte's movies.

Andy Schopp -
There is little to say, as everyone is pretty familiar with many of Nolte's works. He has been in some great movies and I generally look forward to seeing him in whichever films he's in.

     1. Hulk (2003)

     2. Cape Fear (1991)

     3. Neverwas (2005)

     4. 48 Hrs. (1982)

     5. Nightwatch (1997)



Well there we have it, folks. Tons of variety this week, as 16 total films were represented above. Each writer had a different title for their #1 pick, but two lists featured titles in the top spot that didn't appear on any other lists at all. Still, a few notable films managed to stand out from the rest. Nothing appeared on all five lists, but two hit on four: "Cape Fear" and "Hulk". Both films actually managed the same exact average ranking of 2.75, so it's clear that both titles were regarded highly where represented.

Only one film, "48 Hrs.", managed three picks, while one other, "Warrior", managed two. Those were the only other repeats this week. All four of the films receiving multiple selections this week seem like great options - even if some of them aren't necessarily Nolte's best performances, the films overall are enjoyable, and that's ultimately the point. With so many total options above though, it's worth digging into each of these as you have time, as to decide for yourself which are some of your favorites.

Individually, none of us might be the best auditors of Nolte's career, but as a group, at least we're able to provide a broad base to work from.

So as always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that Nick Nolte has provided over the years, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!