Despite three Oscar nominations, Nick Nolte deserves more respect. Five reasons why:
“North Dallas Forty” (1979)
The damage done to football players was barely in the headlines when Nolte brought his physical prowess — and experience as a college player — to this dark comedy. His battered wide receiver’s attempts to get out of bed on Monday mornings tell you more about the harrowing nature of the game than all of 2015’s “Concussion.”
“48 Hrs.” (1982)
Eddie Murphy’s rise from “Saturday Night Live” savior to box-office bigwig owes much to his on-screen partner. Nolte kept his fidgety co-star from steering the action into Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood.
“New York Stories” (1989)
Woody Allen and Francis Ford Coppola contributed short films to the three-part experiment, but Martin Scorsese topped his peers with the opener, “Life Lessons,” in which Nolte plays a painter who can only deliver while in a jealous rage.
“Prince of Tides” (1991)
Barbra Streisand wisely cast Nolte as her on-screen patient in this wrenching adaptation of Pat Conroy’s weeper about a writer forced to unearth the deepest of family secrets. Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter kept Nolte from winning an Oscar that year. But Nolte did show enough of his sensitive side that People magazine named the then-51-year-old the Sexiest Man Alive.
Nolte hasn’t taken a producing role in many films, but this effort, about an abusive father-son relationship, makes you wish he’d do more. James Coburn, one of the few actors who could make his hulkish co-star look small, won a late-in-life Oscar as Nolte’s dad.