Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of a convict who is sent to a psychiatric hospital in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has earned high praise as the best ever screen performance. British magazine Total Film has released its list of the 200 greatest movie performances of all time, with Nicholson claiming top spot.
The actor won his first Oscar for his performance as R.P. McMurphy in the 1975 film, an adaptation of Ken Kesey’s acclaimed novel. Robert De Niro came in at number two on the list for his fearless portrayal of real-life boxer Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull.
There are several suprises on the list, including the ranking given to Gregory Peck’s performance as Atticus Finch in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird. Finch, a small-town lawyer who defends an African-American man wrongly accused of raping a white girl, was named in 2003 as the greatest hero in film history by the American Film Institute. Peck also won an Oscar for the role.
Total Film, however, has Peck’s portrayal at No. 81 on its list. More recent performances in the magazine’s list include Kate Winslet as Clementine Kruczynski in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (No. 21) and Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight (No. 23).
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