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Who's better?#1: Robert DeNiro vs. Jack Nicholson

Updated on May 11, 2016

TALE OF THE TAPE

Robert De Niro
vs.
Jack Nicholson
"God"
Nickname
"Coolest man in the world"
August 17, 1943
Birthdate
April 22, 1937
72
Age
79
New York, USA
Birthplace
New York, USA
1.77m
Height
1.77m

INTRODUCTION

In “Who’s Better?,” we’ll take a closer look at the careers of two actors, place them side-by-side to see which one is better than the other. Though debates such as these have been done numerous times, they often boil down to matters of opinion and preference, and thus, more often than not, end in a draw. So, we gather data such as movie ratings, box-office results, and consensus reports, and fill 7 categories. Each category will show who has the edge, and whoever has more edges, is the winner. Hey, it’s like what they do in Fantasy sports! Exactly.

This is not, however, the final say on the matter. But, the numbers really do help, as you’ll find out.

In this premiere edition of “Who’s Better,?” the article will be a lot longer than succeeding ones, as to explain the mechanics and get a better understanding of the whole process. And what better way to kick it off than to put two of the greatest living actors against each other. Robert DeNiro vs. Jack Nicholson. Who will emerge the winner?

Who's your bet to win?

See results

CATEGORY 1:

THE MOVIES

Selected are each of the actors' 10 highest rated movies as based on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) and Rotten Tomatoes (RT). It is important to note that only the films in which the actor is the lead character, or if in a supporting role, is vital to the story, are selected. In other words, these are their most essential movies. No animated features even if they are rated higher than other live action movies, are included.

Why IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes? Its a good mix of critics and readers (i.e. movie going public) opinions. Critics may know better, but wouldn't you, the ticket buying movie fan want to have your say too? Of course, you do.

How scores are computed: IMDB and RT provide average ratings (in percentage) for each movie. These are combined to get an average for both, then added to the rest of the other movies’ averages. The actor gets a total average for all 10 of his best movies.

Robert DeNiro

DeNiro’s acting debut was as an uncredited extra in Three Rooms in Manhattan (1965), a French-language film by Marcel Carne which was shot in New York City. His first starring role was in Brian DePalma’s Greetings (1968) and only gained attention in the mafia-comedy caper The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight (1971, directed by James Goldstone). But, it was Martin Scorsese that paved the way for greatness when he cast DeNiro as the violent “Johnny Boy” in Mean Streets (1973). DeNiro has made over 100 films in his career, many of them considered as masterpieces.

10 Best Robert DeNiro Movies

Movie
Director
IMDB/Rotten Tomatoes Scores=Average
The Godfather Part 2 (1974)
Francis Ford Coppola
90/97=93.5
Goodfellas (1990)
Martin Scorsese
87/96=91.5
Taxi Driver (1976)
Martin Scorsese
83/99=91
Raging Bull (1980)
Martin Scorsese
83/97=90
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Michael Cimino
82/93=87.5
A Bronx Tale (1993)
Robert DeNiro
78/96=87
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Sergio Leone
84/89=86.5
Mean Streets (1973)
Martin Scorsese
74/98=86
Midnight Run (1988)
Martin Brest
76/96=86
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
David O. Russell
78/92=85
 
 
Total (Average): 88.4

Jack Nicholson

Drive-in movie great Roger Corman discovered Jack Nicholson and cast the 21-year old actor in The Cry Baby Killer (1958). They meet again in The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) and would make more movies together like The Raven (1963) and The Terror (1963). Then everything changed when Nicholson was cast in the hippie road movie Easy Rider (1969) with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Jack’s unforgettable, scene-stealing gig as the drunken, alien-theorizing lawyer was a signal that his B-movie days were over. Jack Nicholson went on to make some of the best American movies of the century. He has made around 75 movies before retiring, his last being How Do You Know (2010), directed by James L. Brooks.

10 Best Jack Nicholson Films

Movie
Director
IMDB/Rotten Tomatoes Scores=Average
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Milos Forman
87/95=91
The Departed (2006)
Martin Scorsese
85/91=88
The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick
84/89=86.5
Chinatown (1974)
Roman Polanski
74/98=86
The Last Detail (1973)
Hal Ashby
76/93=84.5
Reds (1981)
Warren Beatty
75/94=84.5
The Passenger (1975)
Michaelangelo Antonioni
77/91=84
As Good As It Gets (1997)
James L. Brooks
77/86=81.5
Easy Rider (1969)
Dennis Hopper
74/88=81
Terms of Endearment (1983)
James L. Brooks
74/88=81
 
 
Total (Average): 84.8
DeNiro played Bradley Cooper's dad in Silver Linings Playbook (2012), a movie critics love and a box-office success.
DeNiro played Bradley Cooper's dad in Silver Linings Playbook (2012), a movie critics love and a box-office success.

The results

The filmographies of these two actors deserve its own section in the reel of the greatest films ever made. No less than 7 movies here were included in AFI’s 100 list of the Greatest American Films Of All Time: Chinatown (No.19), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (No.20), Raging Bull (No.24), The Godfather Part 2 (No.32), Taxi Driver (No.47), The Deer Hunter (No.79), Easy Rider (No.88) and Goodfellas (No.94), half of which are in the top 50. In Empire’s 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time list, it’s the same movies, although in a different arrangement with some surprise inclusions: Goodfellas (no.6), Raging Bull (no.11), Chinatown (no.13), Taxi Driver (no.17), Godfather Part 2 (no.19), Heat (no.38), The Shining (no.52) , Once Upon a Time in America (no.92), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (no.105), As Good As It Gets (no.140), The Departed (no.208), Midnight Run (no.317), The Passenger (no.341), Mean Streets (no.377) and The Deer Hunter (no.467). Whew! They’ve almost included everything.

THE MOVIES BOX SCORES

Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
88.4 (ave. rating)
85.1 (ave. rating)

Individually (and this is what really matters), The Godfather Part 2 is the 4th highest rated movie on IMDB, followed by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at no. 16 and Goodfellas at no.17. It’s a different story in Rotten Tomatoes where Taxi Driver is the highest rated movie at no. 38, followed by Chinatown at no. 65 and Mean Streets at no.94. Oh, those critics!

Among the 20 movies of both DeNiro and Nicholson in this category, DeNiro’s The Godfather Part 2 is tops with a 93.5% average rating, 3 other of his movies rated over 90%, while Nicholson only has one movie above 90% which is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at 91.0%. This alone shows DeNiro to have a clear edge.

EDGE: DE NIRO

CATEGORY 2:

THE ROLES

These are the iconic characters in movies the actors are known for. If one has been following the careers of Nicholson and DeNiro, it is easy to pinpoint which are their greatest roles—they are those that leave an indelible image in people’s minds. Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in The Shining, or DeNiro’s Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver are the best examples.

How scores are computed: First, how roles were chosen--Its a combination of greatest or best roles/characters, best performances, iconic characters, best character lines as collected from various dependable lists on the internet like Premiere’s and Empire’s 100 Greatest Characters Of All Time lists. Appearances of those roles in lists are then tallied to give the actor an overall score. So, its basically a numbers game.

Jack Nicholson

7 Iconic Nicholson Roles

Role
Movie
Randall Patrick McMurphy
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Jack Torrance
The Shining (1980)
The Joker
Batman (1989)
Jake Gittes
Chinatown (1974)
Col. Nathan R. Jessup
A Few Good Men (1992)
Robert Dupea
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Melvin Udall
As Good As It Gets (1997)

Nicholson and the angry American.

Nicholson’s characters, probably more than Brando’s, were responsible for painting the angry American landscape of the 70s. The rebel who won’t conform, won’t follow rules, and would spit in your eye with a ready curse. From his garrulous, inebriated hitchhiker George Hanson in Easy Rider, to his callous drifter Robert Dupea in Five Easy Pieces to his most iconic, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Randle Patrick McMurphy, Nicholson and rules have always been at odds with each other.

And this is the same attitude he used to deal with the ladies. Unlike DeNiro’s shy man in love, Jack was a womanizer. Seducing the likes of Ann-Margret in Carnal Knowledge, Jessica Lange in The Postman Always Rings Twice, Michelle Pfeiffer in Wolf, and all the Witches of Eastwick. And then, well, gets rid of them.

In Jack’s final movies like About Schmidt, Anger Management and The Bucket List, nothing has changed. It was as if his characters from the 70s just aged onscreen, a little bitter, still the rebel, but a whole lot wiser, and just the way we want them.

Robert DeNiro

7 Iconic DeNiro Roles

Role
Movie
Travis Bickle
Taxi Driver (1976)
Jake LaMotta
Raging Bull (1980)
Vito Corleone
The Godfather Part 2 (1974)
Rupert Pumpkin
The King of Comedy (1983)
Jimmy Conway
Goodfellas (1990)
Max Cady
Cape Fear (1991)
Jack Byrnes
Meet the Parents (2000)

DeNiro and gangster roles.

What John Wayne and John Ford did to Westerns, Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese did for the modern gangster film. No other actor-director team of their generation had defined a genre like they did. But, there is more to DeNiro than playing the gangster, his acting prowess was unleashed playing Jake LaMotta in Scorsese’s biopic Raging Bull. It was the sort of method acting that scared the shit out of other actors of his era. Then came The King of Comedy and The Untouchables, and DeNiro was on top of the world, as the greatest actor of his generation.

DeNiro is also one of that special actors who could transition from drama to comedy with ease. For someone who was accustomed to snuffing out people and going crazy in his movies, DeNiro showed great comic timing in comedies like We’re No Angels, Analyze This and Meet the Parents.

At 72, he’s still in the game and working hard as ever, and in the recent Dirty Grandpa with Zac Efron, it looks like he's rejuvenated himself.

THE ROLES BOX SCORES

Robert DeNiro
No. of appearances
Jack Nicholson
No. of appearances
Travis Bickle
10
Randall Patrick McMurphy
4
Jake LaMotta
2
Jack Torrance
7
Vito Corleone
3
The Joker
2
Rupert Pumpkin
1
Jake Gittes
1
Jimmy Conway
1
Col. Nathan R. Jessup
3
Max Cady
1
Robert Dupea
1
Jack Byrnes
1
Melvin Udall
1
TOTAL
19
TOTAL
19
DeNiro's Max Cady (in Cape Fear, 1991) was in AFI's 50 Greatest Villains list.
DeNiro's Max Cady (in Cape Fear, 1991) was in AFI's 50 Greatest Villains list.

The results

It was a showdown between Travis Bickle/Jake Lamotta and Randall Patrick McMurphy/Jack Torrance, four of the most iconic figures in cinema brought to life by DeNiro and Nicholson. Bickle and McMurphy listed high in lists like Premiere 100 Greatest Characters and 100 Greatest Performances. Bickle “You Talkin’ to Me?” monologue also figured highly in several top 10 most memorable quote lists, as with Jack Torrance’s “Here’s Johnny!” quote.

Nicholson’s Joker and Col. Nathan Jessup, were also cited for memorable lines/monologues. On the other hand, DeNiro’s Rupert Pumpkin and Max Cady were regarded as great character creations. Both DeNiro and Nicholson’s most iconic roles just cancel each other resulting in a tie.

EDGE: TIE

CATEGORY 3:

AWARDS & NOMINATIONS

Acting awards are the benchmark of an actor’s greatness. In this category, we’ve chosen 12 major award-giving bodies to which scores were based. The Academy Awards, or the Oscars, is the most prestigious and sought-after by actors. Others include the British Academy of Films Awards, the Golden Globes, the National Board of Review, even foreign award institutions like the Berlin and Venice International Film Festival, as well as various critics circle awards.

How scores are computed: It’s a battle of numbers, again. For each actor, the number of times nominated and won are summed up. A breakdown is given separately for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories. Totals for wins and nominations for each actor are shown side by side to see who has the advantage.

Bobby and Oscar

Robert DeNiro became one of hottest newcomer in Hollywood after winning Best Supporting Actor in The Godfather Part 2 (1974) playing the young Vito Corleone, a role Marlon Brando won Best Actor in The Godfather (1972). This marks the only time the same character played by different actors has won an award twice in different movies. Relatively, Al Pacino, who played Michael Corleone was nominated in two occasions: as Best Supporting Actor in The Godfather (1972), and as Best Actor in The Godfather Part 2 (1974). James Caan who played the eldest son, Sonny Corleone and Robert Duvall who played Tom Hagen, the consigliere and adopted son of Don Vito, were both nominated for Best Supporting Actor in The Godfather (1972), while Andy Garcia who played Michael’s bastard son Vincent Corleone in The Godfather Part 3 was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. All in all, there were 7 nominations for characters that came from one fictional family, something of a record.

It took only six years for DeNiro to win Best Actor in Raging Bull (1980), but that would be his only Oscar accolade in the 80s. He was nominated next for Awakenings (1990) and Cape Fear (1991) followed by a long drought of 21 years before his name again appeared as an Oscar nominee in Silver Linings Playbook (2012).

Watch Robert DeNiro accept Oscar Best Actor award for Raging Bull

The 1981 Academy Awards

Robert DeNiro Oscar Awards & Nominations

Movie
Category
Result
The Godfather Part 2 (1974)
Best Supporting Actor
WON
Taxi Driver (1976)
Best Actor
NOMINATED
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Best Supporting Actor
NOMINATED
Raging Bull (1980)
Best Actor
WON
Awakenings (1990)
Best Actor
NOMINATED
Cape Fear (1991)
Best Actor
NOMINATED
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Best Supporting Actor
NOMINATED

Jack and Oscar

Oscar has been particularly friendly to Jack Nicholson, nominating him 12 times, and giving him the statue thrice. He is the most nominated male actor in history, Laurence Olivier comes in at second with 10. Jack’s 3 Oscar wins (2 for Best Actor, 1 for Best Supporting Actor) are tied with Daniel Day-Lewis and Walter Brennan*.

After losing 3 bids for the Best Actor award for Five Easy Pieces (1971), The Last Detail (1974), and Chinatown (1975), Nicholson finally won in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1974). The movie is one of only three movies to have won the Big Five Award Categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay (either Adapted or Original). The other movies were It Happened One Night (1934) and Silence of the Lambs (1994). Jack’s two other wins were for Best Supporting Actor in Terms of Endearment (1984), and Best Actor in As Good As It Gets (1998).

*Daniel Day-Lewis’ 3 Oscar wins were all for Best Actor, while Brennan’s were all for Best Supporting Actor.

Watch Jack Nicholson accept Best Actor award for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The 1976 Academy Awards

Jack Nicholson Oscar Awards & Nominations

Movie
Category
Result
Easy Rider (1970)
Best Supporting Actor
NOMINATED
Five Easy Pieces (1971)
Best Actor
NOMINATED
The Last Detail (1974)
Best Actor
NOMINATED
Chinatown (1975)
Best Actor
NOMINATED
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1974)
Best Actor
WON
Reds (1982)
Best Supporting Actor
NOMINATED
Terms of Endearment (1984)
Best Supporting Actor
WON
Prizzi's Honor (1986)
Best Actor
NOMINATED
Ironweed (1988)
Best Actor
NOMINATED
A Few Good Men (1993)
Best Supporting Actor
NOMINATED
As Good As It Gets (1998)
Best Actor
WON
About Schmidt (2003)
Best Actor
NOMINATED

ACADEMY AWARDS (THE OSCARS) SCORE SHEET

 
Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
Best Actor Wins
1
2
Best Actor Nominations
4
8
Best Supporting Actor Wins
1
1
Best Supporting Actor Nominations
3
4
TOTAL (W/N)
2 / 7
3 / 12
On the other hand, DeNiro and Pacino have a combined Oscar win/nomination tally of 3/15
On the other hand, DeNiro and Pacino have a combined Oscar win/nomination tally of 3/15

Oscar re-cap

DeNiro and Nicholson have 5 wins and 19 nominations between them. That’s the most win/nomination totals by two contemporaries, better than Laurence Olivier and Spencer Tracy’s 3/9 or Paul Newman and Marlon Brando’s 3/17. And they are without a doubt, the winningiest duo if other awards* are added. But, individually, Nicholson edges DeNiro in the Oscar race.

*Although some award-winning bodies started only giving awards in the latter half of the last century. Even if you pair Nicholson with Al Pacino’s 1/8, the Nicholson-DeNiro tandem still has the upper hand with 1 win.

11 OTHER AWARDS SCORE SHEET

Award (Wins/Nominations)
Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
Golden Globes
2 wins / 8 nominations
7 wins / 17 nominations
BAFTA
0 / 5
3 / 7
Screen Actors Guild
0 / 1
1 / 2
National Board of Review
2 / 2
5 / 5
Cannes
0 / 0
1 / 2
David Di Donatello
0 / 3
1 / 3
Berlin International Film Festival
1 / 1
0 / 0
Venice Film Festival
2 / 1*
0 / 0
Los Angeles Film Critics Circle
2 / 3
3 / 6
National Society of Film Critics
2 / 5
5 / 6
New York Film Critics Circle
4 / 7
6 / 10
TOTAL
15 / 36
32 / 58
* DeNiro was nominated for a Golden Lion, won a Golden Phoenix for acting and a Lifetime Achievement Award

AWARDS & NOMINATIONS BOX SCORES

 
Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
Academy Awards
2 / 7
3 / 12
Other awards
15 / 36
32 / 58
TOTAL
17 / 43
35 / 70
Even in the movies, Nicholson outmedals DeNiro.
Even in the movies, Nicholson outmedals DeNiro.

The results

In the movie industry, getting nominated is already a win of sorts. And being handed the trophy is like winning the championship. In which case, Jack Nicholson easily strides past Robert DeNiro in this category by a margin of 18/27 in wins / nominations. Overall, Nicholson’s 50% win average outclasses DeNiro’s 39.5%. Nicholson is an award-hog. Now retired, his records should hold on for a long time. Nicholson wins this one, easy.

EDGE: NICHOLSON

CATEGORY 4:

Tim Burton's Batman premiered on 6/23/1989
Tim Burton's Batman premiered on 6/23/1989

THE BOX-OFFICE

To get a realistic view of the actor’s whole box-office drawing power, his 10 best movies are included, plus 5 of his highest grossing films not on that list. For the other 5, again, we only chose movies in which the actor is the main draw, or has an obvious impact on box office receipts. We also have to omit animated movies, (i.e. Shark Tale which DeNiro lent his voice) since people (especially kids) tend to see them without really caring who the voice talents were.

Why Domestic and not Worldwide Box-Office results? Two reasons. One, accuracy. Domestic results are more or less, accurate, and international box-office results are prone to exaggeration and other factors that affect accuracy. Two, some movies were not shown internationally that data were not available. Also, we used adjusted box-office results based on inflation. (Source: www.ultimatemovierankings.com)

So, with all these things in mind, here are the box office scores of the two actors:

JACK NICHOLSON'S BOX-OFFICE NUMBERS

Movie
Adjusted Domestic Box-Office in Millions
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
448,200,000
The Departed (2006)
169,600,000
The Shining (1980)
142,700,000
Chinatown (1974)
131,600,000
The Last Detail (1973)
68,500,000
Reds (1981)
122,500,000
The Passenger (1975)
22,400,000
The Shooting (1966)
N/A
As Good As It Gets (1997)
272,700,000
Easy Rider (1969)
324,000,000
Batman (1989)
533,400,000
Terms of Endearment (1983)
290,200,000
A Few Good Men (1992)
287,100,000
Carnal Knowledge (1971)
191,200,000
Anger Management (2003)
189,600,000
AVERAGE/MOVIE
228,121,429
Jack Nicholson's Star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard
Jack Nicholson's Star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard

Nicholson's Star Power

Jack Nicholson’s Batman ($533 million) was the biggest movie of 1989, earning $50 million more than its closest competitor Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest comes in second with $448 million (adjusted). It is the third highest grosser of its year behind The Rocky Horror Picture Show and of course, the summer blockbuster Jaws. Easy Rider (1969), done for a mere $360,000 earned $60 million at the box-office. It’s adjusted value is $324 million. Average gross of Nicholson’s 15 movies is $228 million.

ROBERT DE NIRO'S BOX-OFFICE NUMBERS

Movie
Adjusted Domestic Box-Office in Millions
The Godfather Part 2 (1974)
206,200,000
Goodfellas (1990)
90,100,000
Taxi Driver (1976)
103,900,000
Raging Bull (1980)
73,100,000
The Deer Hunter (1978)
169,700,000
A Bronx Tale (1993)
34,100,000
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
13,000,000
Mean Streets (1973)
5,700,000
Midnight Run (1988)
75,500,000
Heat (1995)
125,900,000
Meet the Fockers (2004)
365,400,000
Meet the Parents (2000)
250,100,000
Analyze This (1999)
171,300,000
The Untouchables (1987)
158,300,000
Cape Fear (1991)
152,700,000
AVERAGE/MOVIE
133,000,000
Robert DeNiro leaves his hand and shoe marks outside TCL Chinese Theatre.
Robert DeNiro leaves his hand and shoe marks outside TCL Chinese Theatre.

Robert DeNiro's Star Power

Robert DeNiro’s highest grossing movies were the two comedies Meet the Fockers (2004) with $365 million, and Meet the Parents (2000) with $250 million. Meet the Fockers is the 4th highest grossing film of its year, behind The Passion of the Christ, Spider-Man 2 and top earner Shrek2. The Godfather Part 2 (1974), his highest rated movie earned $206 million (adjusted value), comes in third. The 15 DeNiro movies in the category average $133 million per movie.

THE BOX-OFFICE BOX SCORES

Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
$133,000,000
$228,121,429
Ave. Domestic Box-Office earnings/movie
Ave. Domestic Box-Office earnings/movie
SOURCE: www.ultimatemovierankings.com

The results

Looking at the numbers, Jack Nicholson has obviously the bigger box-office draw, edging DeNiro by $95 million, that’s nearly DeNiro’s own take. The margin itself is 71% of DeNiro’s average domestic gross. While DeNiro has the more artistic films, Nicholson has the movie blockbusters, and thus, wins this category.

EDGE: NICHOLSON

CATEGORY 5:

Jack and Nick in the smoking room during the 75th Academy Awards. Both were nominated for the Best Actor award (for About Schmidt and Adaptation), PHOTO CREDITS: Richard Hartley
Jack and Nick in the smoking room during the 75th Academy Awards. Both were nominated for the Best Actor award (for About Schmidt and Adaptation), PHOTO CREDITS: Richard Hartley

How scores are computed: We’ll re-visit three previous categories: best films, best roles and box-office gains and gather data that are the reverse: 5 worst rated films, 5 awfully bad roles and 5 box-office bombs. Again, we’ll go to IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes to see which movies rated the lowest, look at the box-office numbers to know which movies tanked, and finally, search the Razzies to see which actors were nominated as well as lists that show which of the actors’ roles are their worst. The score sheets will then have three sub-categories with the actor having the most edges, wins.

THE FLOPS

“You’re only as good as your last performance.” So the popular saying goes. Doesn’t really apply in the world of movies, right? Maybe. If you’re already a legend like DeNiro or Nicholson, getting awarded for worst performance like the Razzies is certainly a no bearing. No more than a joke. But, this adage certainly applies to some actors. As an example, look no further than the career of Nicolas Cage. Make no mistake, Cage is a great actor as evidenced by his Academy Award winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas (1995), his brilliant dual roles in Adaptation (2002), and memorable performances in Moonstruck (1987), Raising Arizona (1987), and in high-grossing films like Con Air (1997), Face/Off (1997), and Gone in 60 Seconds (2000). But, for every good movie, Cage will dish out five flops in return. The horror!

So, do the flops have an adverse effect on an actor’s career? It certainly does, especially when an actor constantly finds his name in the top 10 of worst actors list, his bid for better roles becomes slimmer. Therefore, flops are really useful for the purpose of comparing two actors. One's weakness and inconsistencies become the strength of another, thereby, providing a veritable measure of comparison.

Sub-category 1: WORST MOVIES

Even great actors are prone to making bad movies. Hollywood—it is an industry run by money and controlled by layers of people. “The guy behind the guy behind the guy,” says the movie Swingers (1996), about a bunch of small-time actors and stand-up comedians wanting to make it big in Hollywood. They gamble as much as the bigwigs of major studios do. They, who ultimately decide which movies to produce. And sometimes, even if they fill a movie with immensely talented actors such as Nicholson and DeNiro, things could turn out bad.

We take a look at 5 of the worst rated movies by DeNiro and Nicholson and compare. These are the movies they wish they never made.

5 Worst Robert DeNiro Movies

Movie
Director
IMDB/Rotten Tomatoes Scores=Average
Sam's Song (1969)
John Broderick
37/10=23.5
Godsend (2004)
Nick Hamm
48/4=26
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2004)
Mary McGuckian
51/4=27.5
Killing Season (2013)
Mark Steven Johnson
54/11=32.5
Bag Man (2014)
David Grovic
53/10=31.5
 
Total (Average)
28.2

5 Worst Jack Nicholson Movies

Movie
Director
IMDB/Rotten Tomatoes Scores=Average
The Wild Ride (1960)
Harvey Berman
46/18=32
Back Door to Hell (1964)
Monte Hellman
53/24=38.5
A Safe Place (1971)
Henry Jaglom
53/23=38
The Fortune (1975)
Mike Nichols
58/20=39
Man Trouble (1992)
Bob Rafelson
46/7=26.5
 
Total (Average)
34.8
One look at the poster, and you know its going to be trouble.
One look at the poster, and you know its going to be trouble.

Worst movies re-cap

Whatever happened to Robert DeNiro? That is the question critics had been asking themselves for a long time. The answer might be: 1995. It was in that year, that DeNiro made his last full-length feature film with Scorsese which was Casino. For the next 20 years, DeNiro’s output had been so dismal, it was downright depressing. That’s 20 years, man. That’s a lifetime for some actors. And DeNiro let himself age from 52 to 72 without a really great movie to add to his name.

Meanwhile, Nicholson had his share of bad turns in his career, but he was able to pick himself up every time. The longest stretch of bad movies was probably the ones in between A Few Good Men (1992) to As Good As It Gets (1997), which were The Crossing Guard (1995), Blood & Wine (1996), and The Evening Star (1996). And it was a mere 5 years. When you look back at his body of work, Jack Nicholson never sucked in the 70s and 80s. That is why he edges DeNiro here, 34.8 against 28.2 average of their worst movies.

DeNiro and Murphy's Showtime (2002) pairing was a misfire.
DeNiro and Murphy's Showtime (2002) pairing was a misfire.

Sub-category 2: BOX-OFFICE BOMBS

Both DeNiro and Nicholson have their share of box-office failures, especially when these two command very big, fat paychecks. DeNIro was reported to earn $17 million per movie, while Nicholson’s regular salary was $10 million. In 1989, he cut $4 million of his salary in Tim Burton’s Batman, in exchange for box-office revenues, and got $60 million in the end. That’s 15% of the movie’s total earnings of $411. The joke’s on you says the Joker. But, not all of Nicholson and DeNiro’s movies were hits like Batman. And in those cases, the bigger the movie’s budget was, the harder it did fell.

ROBERT DE NIRO'S TOP 5 BOX-OFFICE BOMBS*

Movie
Budget ($)
Domestic Gross ($)
Losses ($)
Stone (2010)
22,000,000
1,810,078
-20,189,922
What Just Happened (2008)
25,000,000
1,090,947
-23,909,053
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2004)
24,000,000
49,981
-23,950,019
Showtime (2002)
85,000,000
37,948,765
-47,051,235
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000)
76,000,000
26,000,610
-49,999,390
 
 
Total (Average)
-33,019,924
*movies of the last 20 years since his last movie. SOURCE: www.the-numbers.com/

JACK NICHOLSON'S TOP 5 BOX-OFFICE BOMBS*

Movie
Budget ($)
Domestic Gross ($)
Losses ($)
Hoffa (1992)
35,000,000
22,867,875
-12,132,125
Man Trouble (1992)
30,000,000
3,882,058
-26,117,942
Blood & Wine (1997)
26,000,000
1,075,288
-24,924,712
The Pledge (2001)
35,000,000
19,719,930
-15,280,070
How Do You Know (2010)
60,000,000
30,212,620
-29,787,380
 
 
Total (Average)
-21,648,446
*movies of the last 20 years since his last movie. SOURCE: www.the-numbers.com/
Nicholson and director James L. Brooks re-united for the last time in the movie How Do You Know (2010). Unfortunately, Jack's swan song was just out of tune.
Nicholson and director James L. Brooks re-united for the last time in the movie How Do You Know (2010). Unfortunately, Jack's swan song was just out of tune.

Box-office bombs re-cap

One thing DeNiro is really good at besides Method Acting is methodically producing box-office bombs every year. What’s alarming is that he makes as much movies per year as Nicolas Cage (him again)! In this decade alone, DeNiro already made 23 movies and counting. That’s approximately 3 movies a year. Where does he get the time? Quantity surely replaces quality that some of DeNiro’s movies went directly to video (something that’s really hard for a die-hard DeNiro fan to contemplate). And because of that, the average loss of his top 5 box-office bombs is a whooping $33 million compared to Nicholson’s $21.6 million, a difference of $11.4 million, which is the budget of a very low-end Nicolas Cage movie (what, him again?!). The numbers speak for themselves, Nicholson has the clear edge.

Sub-category 3: AWFULLY BAD ROLES

The only thing worse than awfully bad acting decisions is when an actor passes on a role that became movie icons. Jack Nicholson was considered for the part of Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976) and Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972). The last one, deemed Jack, is that he wasn’t Italian enough. Had Nicholson took on those roles, American cinema would’ve looked a little different. Who knows, Randall Patrick McMurphy would’ve gone to Burt Reynolds, one of a handful of actors considered for the part. You see, casting decisions like these, happen for a reason. The same with bad acting choices. They can't be helped, especially when the paycheck is good.

5 Awfully Bad DeNiro Roles

Role
Movie
The Creature
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)
Fearless Leader
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000)
Det. Mitch Preston
Showtime (2002)
Archbishop of Lima
Bridge of San Luis Rey (2004)
Dr. Richard Wells
Godsend (2004)

5 Awfully Bad Nicholson Roles

Role
Movie
Jimmy Hoffa
Hoffa (1992)
Harry Bliss
Man Trouble (1992)
Edward Cole
The Bucket List (2007)
Pres. James Dale
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Dr. Buddy Rydell
Anger Management (2003)

Awfully Bad Roles Box Scores

Robert DeNiro
No. of appearances
Jack Nicholson
No. of appearances
The Creature
2
Jimmy Hoffa
2
Fearless Leader
6
Harry Bliss
5
Det. Mitch Preston
2
Edward Cole
1
Archbishop of Lima
1
Pres. James Dale
2
Dr. Richard Wells
1
Dr. Buddy Rydell
1
Total
12
Total
11
DeNiro played Frankenstein's monster in the 1994 Kenneth Branagh film.
DeNiro played Frankenstein's monster in the 1994 Kenneth Branagh film.

Awfully bad roles re-cap

Fearless Leader in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000) appeared in most "Worst Performances" and "Worst Characters" lists all over the internet, making it DeNiro's most awfully bad role to date. In the annals of the Golden Raspberry Awards, he and Eddie Murphy were nominated as Worst Screen Couple in Showtime (2002), while Nicholson's Harry Bliss from Man Trouble (1992) and Hoffa (1992), were nominated for Worst Actor. Nicholson has one less appearance than DeNiro, and wins this one.

THE FLOPS BOX-SCORES

 
Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
Edge
Worst Movies
28.2 (ave. rating)
34.8 (ave. rating)
NICHOLSON
Box-Office Bombs
-33,019,924 (ave. loss / movie)
-21,648,446 (ave. loss / movie)
NICHOLSON
Awfully bad roles
12 appearances
11 appearances
NICHOLSON
 
 
FINAL EDGE
NICHOLSON (3) / DE NIRO (0)
Hoffa was a role NIcholson probably wish would just disappear.
Hoffa was a role NIcholson probably wish would just disappear.

The results

Nicholson wins by a landslide, getting the edges in all three sub-categories. Even if we count all of their movies, get the ratings and box-office results, Nicholson will still prevail and with even a wider margin. The closest DeNiro got to a win is in the Awfully bad role sub-category, but even that will go Nicholson’s way if we gather more lists on the internet. It was a no-win situation.

EDGE: NICHOLSON

CATEGORY 6:

How scores are computed: There are 7 sub-categories, namely Directing, Writing, Producing, Voice Talent, Music, TV Acting, and Broadway. In Directing, movies are scored based on their IMDB/Rotten Tomatoes average ratings. The other 6 sub-categories are scored through a battle of numbers. The score sheet is divided into 7 of these sub-categories and points are assigned to each to see which actor has the edge. Whoever has the more edges in the total tally, wins.

OTHER SKILLS

Orson Welles is often regarded as a director first, an actor, or a writer, or a producer, or every other thing that he did, second. But, no one that good could not have been a great actor himself. Have you really seen a Welles acting performance that sucked? And Welles is not the only one who acted and directed. Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner, Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Warren Beatty, the list goes on. Actors who could do both certainly have an advantage over others, a diversity that separates him from the rest.

This category will decide which actor has other skills besides acting. In addition to directing, we also included six more sub-categories, and they are: Producing, Writing, Voice Talent, Music, TV, and Broadway.

DeNiro directing A BronX Tale (1993).
DeNiro directing A BronX Tale (1993).

Sub-category 1: DIRECTING

Actors turned directors. There’s a long line of them. The really talented ones even went on to win Best Directing awards. Yet, when discussions regarding the greatest directors of all time, these actor-directors, with the exception of the truly great ones, are nowhere to be found. And why is that? Just look at who these actor-directors beat for the award: 1980 Robert Redford (Ordinary People) over Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull), 1981: Warren Beatty (Reds) over Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark), 1990: Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves) over Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas), 1992: Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven) over Robert Altman (The Player), 1995: Mel Gibson (Braveheart) over Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas), and 2004: Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) over Martin Scorsese (The Aviator).

That’s thrice the great Martin Scorsese was beaten by an actor. What’s more, and with only the exception of Reds, all of these actor-directed movies were also Best Pictures. Which makes this sub-category, one of the more important ones.

Directed by Robert DeNiro

Movie
IMDB/Rotten Tomatoes Scores=Average
A Bronx Tale (1993)
78/96=87
The Good Shepherd (2006)
67/54=60.5
Total (Average)
73.75

Directed by Jack Nicholson

Movie
IMDB/Rotten Tomatoes Scores=Average
The Terror (1963)
50/71=60.5
Drive, He Said (1971)
59/67=63
Goin' South (1978)
63/71=67
The Two Jakes (1990)
61/65=63
Total (Average)
63.38

Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler duet in Anger Management (2003)

Other sub-categories

The other skills beside Directing are Writing, Producing, Voice Talent, Music, TV Acting and Broadway. Writing, Producing, Voice Talent and Music cover work done in both film and television. TV Acting are roles in TV series, mini series and TV movies, and does not include personal appearances (i.e. as himself) in TV shows or talk shows. Broadway is acting in a role in a theatre production, it may also include other work besides acting if deemed important.

DeNiro as Don Lino in Shark Tale (2004)

Why are these other skills important?

1) Writing. The screenplay is the skeleton of a movie, and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck proved with Goodwill Hunting that actors can do it.
2) Producing. Many actors showed a talent for producing that resulted in good movies getting made.
3) Voice Talent. Some of the most memorable animated characters were voiced by famous actors. Eddie Murphy did so with Shrek’s Donkey.
4) Music. Many great actors are accomplished singers, dancers and musicians. The great Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Art Garfunkel and many more, even those actors who tried their best in modern musicals like Moulin Rouge, Chicago and Les Miserables are worth mentioning.
5) TV Acting. Some actors started on TV, and some of their best work are on the small screen.
6) Broadway. Same goes with Broadway, the very best thespians were veterans of the stage.

OTHER SKILLS BOX SCORES

Sub-category
Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
Edge
Directing
73.75 (ave. rating)
63.38 (ave. rating)
DE NIRO
Writing
0 films
6 films
NICHOLSON
Producing
30 films/TV series
5 films
DE NIRO
Voice Talent
2 full length animated films
1 animated TV short
DE NIRO
Music
4 musical performances in films
10 musical performances in films including songwriting
NICHOLSON
TV Acting
0 TV series
13 episodes in various TV series
NICHOLSON
Broadway
3 productions
0 productions
DE NIRO
 
 
TOTAL
DE NIRO (4) / NICHOLSON (3)
 
 
FINAL EDGE
DE NIRO
DeNiro directing Matt Damon in The Good Shepherd (2006).
DeNiro directing Matt Damon in The Good Shepherd (2006).

The results

Although Jack has directed more movies than Bobby, his average rating of 63.8 is outclassed by DeNiro’s 73.75. That’s a huge 10.37 difference. 20, if you compare the two’s highest rated movies, DeNiro’s A Bronx Tale (1993) which averages 87, is no. 6 of his 10 best films.

In the other sub-categories, DeNiro overwhelms Nicholson by producing 30 films and TV series to Nicholson’s 5. Among them, the Meet the Parents trilogy, Wag the Dog (1997), A Bronx Tale (1993), Marvin’s Room (1996), Rent (2005), and the Hugh Grant starrer About a Boy (2002). Being the boss of TriBeCa productions has its perks. However, Nicholson has 6 writing credits to DeNiro’s zip. He is credited for writing Ride the Whirlwind (1966), Head (1968), and Drive, He Said (1971). As for being voice talents, DeNiro has two full length animated features to his credit, Shark Tale (2004) and Arthur and the Invisibles (2006) while Nicholson has one short animated TV credit called Elephant’s Child (1986).

When it comes to TV and Broadway, the two exchange edges with Jack taking TV advantage with 13 appearances in early 60s shows like Sea Hunt, Dr. Kildare, The Andy Griffith Show and The Barbara Stanwyck Show. Bobby has none but was involved in 3 Broadway productions, most recently as co-director of the stage version of A Bronx Tale. Jack has zero Broadway experience. For the total, DeNiro owns Nicholson 4-3.

EDGE: DE NIRO

CATEGORY 7:

How scores are computed: There are 3 sub-categories: 1) the directors the actors worked with, 2) other great actors they’ve worked with, and 3) other great actresses they've worked with. Again, we’ll take a look at DeNiro and Nicholson’s filmographies and list all the notable directors and actors. In the Directors sub-category, there are 4 tiers of great directors based on a very dependable, finite list from They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They?.com. Whoever has worked with more directors, gets the advantage. The same goes for sub-category 2: Actors and sub-category 3: Actress*. It's a numbers game, and in the final box scores, the one with the most edges, wins.

*The source for this is collated from several Best/Greatest Actors lists from the internet. Lists that are reliable and non-bias (i.e. the kind of lists that doesn't have Heath Ledger in the top 10)

LEGACY

How important is legacy? Just how do you measure it? Let’s take the game of basketball. Michael Jordan is considered the greatest basketball player not only because of his championship rings, but that he played against and alongside other great players—beating them in championship games and winning with them in the Olympics. There is no better analogy.

Thus, legacy here is what the actor has accomplished in his lifetime in films. The diversity of directors he had worked with. All the other wonderful and likewise, great actors and actresses he had acted with in movies. All these define his legacy.

Sub-category 1: DIRECTORS THEY'VE WORKED WITH

These two actors have worked with the very best directors of their generation. The collaboration between two great artists of cinema resulted in a number of the finest movies of our time.

Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro. It is almost impossible to talk about one without mentioning the other. Marty is only a year older than DeNiro and they developed a close friendship doing 8 magnificent movies together. Nicholson has worked with a host of diverse directors from Stanley Kubrick to Roman Polanski to Hal Ashby. For these two actors, even the greatest filmmakers were the ones who wanted to work with them.

DIRECTORS SCORE SHEET

 
Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
TIER 1
Francis Ford Coppola
Stanley Kubrick
(Top 1-50 directors of all time)
Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
 
Sergio Leone
Michaelangelo Antonioni
 
 
Roman Polanski
TIER 2
Bernardo Bertolucci
John Huston
(Top 51-100 directors)
Quentin Tarantino
Vincente Minnelli
 
Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan
 
 
Milos Forman
TIER 3
Brian De Palma
Hal Ashby
(Top 101-150 directors)
Terry Gilliam
Rob Reiner
 
Michael Cimino
Arthur Penn
TIER 4
Michael Mann
Mike Nichols
(Top 151-200 directors)
 
Tim Burton
TIER 5
John Frankenheimer
Monte Hellman
(Top 201-250 directors)
 
Bob Rafelson
TOTAL
11
15
SOURCE: TSPDT 1,000 Greatest Films Top 250 Directors
The combination of Stanley Kubrick and Jack NIcholson produced the masterpiece The Shining (1980).
The combination of Stanley Kubrick and Jack NIcholson produced the masterpiece The Shining (1980).

Directors they've worked with re-cap

Oh, if only they had the chance to work with all of these legendary directors, that would’ve been something. With both having worked with Martin Scorsese and Elia Kazan, the directors cancel each other out in Tiers 1 and 2. DeNIro’s top director is Francis Ford Coppola while Nicholson has Stanley Kubrick. All in all, Nicholson has worked with 4 more directors in the Top 250 than DeNiro, and gets the edge.

Sub-category 2: ACTORS THEY'VE WORKED WITH

It’s a long list that include award-winners like Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Duvall and Sean Penn. Icons like Sean Connery, Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. And A-list actors like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Liam Neeson and Matt Damon. And many, many more. Most of the actors mentioned would attest to having worked with either Robert DeNiro or Jack Nicholson as a privilege.And their testimonies only add to the legacy.

ACTORS THEY'VE WORKED WITH SCORE SHEET

 
Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
TIER 1:
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando
(Top 1-10 actors 70s-present)
Al Pacino
 
 
Dustin Hoffman
 
 
Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman
 
Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio
TIER 2:
Robin Williams
Michael Caine
(Top 11-25 actors)
Sean Penn
 
 
Robert Duvall
 
 
Philip Seymour Hoffman
 
TIER 3:
Tommy Lee Jones
Christopher Plummer
(Top 26-50 actors)
Edward Norton
 
 
Brad Pitt
 
 
Peter O'Toole
 
 
F. Murray Abraham
 
 
Liam Neeson
 
 
Christopher Walken
 
 
Bruce Willis
 
 
Alan Arkin
 
 
Jeremy Irons
 
 
Matt Damon
Matt Damon
 
Donald Sutherland
 
TIER 4:
Samuel L. Jackson
Orson Welles
(Top 51-75 actors)
Joe Pesci
Tom Cruise
 
Michael Douglas
 
 
Bill Murray
 
 
Jon Voight
 
Total
26
9
Although Jerry Lewis was not in the tier of great actors, his pairing with Robert DeNiro in The King of Comedy (1982) is a classic.
Although Jerry Lewis was not in the tier of great actors, his pairing with Robert DeNiro in The King of Comedy (1982) is a classic.

Actors they've worked with re-cap

There are 4 actors they have mutually worked with: Marlon Brando, Morgan Freeman, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. Nicholson and Brando starred in the western The Missouri Breaks (1976), directed by Arthur Penn, while DeNiro acted opposite the great thespian in The Score (2001), which also starred Ed Norton. But, the big story here is DeNiro’s overwhelming win. It looks as though he has worked with almost every major actor in the business, that you could play “Six Degrees of DeNiro” one less layer than Kevin Bacon! Of the top 75 actors from the 70s to the present, DeNiro has worked with 26 of them, while Nicholson has only nine. That’s a huge difference of 17!

Sub-category 3: ACTRESSES THEY'VE WORKED WITH

The two also have their share of acting opposite the best actresses in movies. The list continues with award-winners like Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Jessica Lange, Jodie Foster and Jane Fonda. Famous leading ladies like Michelle Pfieffer, Susan Sarandon, Kim Basinger, Kathleen Turner, Sharon Stone and Glenn Close. A-list actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Julianne Moore, and Natalie Portman. And many more.

ACTRESSES THEY'VE WORKED WITH SCORE SHEET

 
Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
TIER 1:
Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep
(Top 1-10 actresses 70s - present)
Jodie Foster
Glenn Close
 
Jessica Lange
Jessica Lange
 
Jane Fonda
 
TIER 2:
Diane Keaton
Diane Keaton
(Top 11-25 actresses)
Kathy Bates
Kathy Bates
 
Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon
 
Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand
 
Frances McDormand
Franced McDormand
 
Julianne Moore
Hellen Mirren
 
 
Faye Dunaway
 
 
Holly Hunter
TIER 3:
Sigourney Weaver
Helen Hunt
(Top 26-50 actresses)
Charlize Theron
Natalie Portman
 
Helena Bonham-Carter
Annette Bening
 
Michelle Pfieffer
Michelle Pfieffer
 
Halle Berry
Kim Basinger
Tier 4:
Gwyneth Paltrow
Louise Fletcher
(Top 51-75 actresses)
Angelina Jolie
Anjelica Huston
 
Demi Moore
Demi Moore
 
Sharon Stone
 
Total
19
19
Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston were an on-screen off-screen couple for 17 long years.
Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston were an on-screen off-screen couple for 17 long years.

Actresses they've worked with re-cap

It’s a whole different story with the actresses. There are 9 names here that DeNiro and Nicholson had the pleasure of sharing the screen with, one of them (and top-tiered) is none other than Meryl Streep. With her alone, there are 5 movies between DeNiro and Nicholson: Falling in Love (1984), Marvin’s Room (1996), The Deer Hunter (1978) (DeNiro); Heartburn (1986), and Ironweed (1987) (Nicholson). There’s a total of 29 actresses in the list, evenly distributed among the two that no one gets an advantage. The result is a tie.

LEGACY BOX SCORES

 
Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
Edge
Directors they've worked with
11 (of Top 250 directors)
14 (of Top 250 directors)
NICHOLSON
Actors they've worked with
26 (of Top 75 actors)
9 (of Top 75 actors)
DE NIRO
Actresses they've worked with
19 (of Top 75 actresses)
19 (of Top 75 actresses)
TIE
 
 
TOTAL
DE NIRO (1) / NICHOLSON (1)
 
 
FINAL EDGE
NONE
Standing among the shadows of greatness: Jack with The Departed's Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon.
Standing among the shadows of greatness: Jack with The Departed's Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon.

The Results

For the 7th and last category, Nicholson has the edge when it comes to working with a variety of top directors. His advantage is attributed to the fact that DeNiro frequently worked with same directors, namely Martin Scorsese, whom he made 8 films with (that’s as much movies Tim Burton and Johnny did together).

On the other hand, DeNiro is leagues away when it comes to working with his peers. His inclusion in ensembles has a lot to with it. As for the actresses they’ve worked with, the two are tied with 19 apiece, ending the contest for Legacy to a draw.

EDGE: NONE

Jack and Bobby starred together in The Last Tycoon (1976).
Jack and Bobby starred together in The Last Tycoon (1976).

THE FINALS

WHO'S BETTER? ROBERT DE NIRO VS. JACK NICHOLSON

This is the part where we say, “the envelope, please,” that is, if you haven't already counted the results. But before we announce the winner, Who’s Better? would like to thank two of the greatest actors in the history of cinema and all those wonderful movies. A toast. Now, that we’ve reached the end, it is only fitting to recall their brilliant careers with videos of their best movie moments courtesy of watch-mojo.com:

Robert DeNiro

Jack Nicholson

FINAL BOX-SCORES

Categories
Robert DeNiro
Jack Nicholson
Edge
1: The Movies
88.4 (ave. rating)
84.8 (ave. rating)
DeNiro
2: The Roles
19 (no. of appearances in lists)
19 (no. of appearances in lists)
Tie
3: Awards & Nominations
17 wins / 43 nominations
35 wins / 70 nominations
Nicholson
4: Domestic Box-Office
$133,000,000 (ave./film)
$228,121,429 (ave./film)
Nicholson
5: The Flops
0 edge
3 edges
Nicholson
6: Othe skills
4 edges
3 edges
DeNiro
7: Legacy
1 edge
1 edge
Tie
 
 
TOTAL
DeNiro (2) / Nicholson (3) / Tie (2)
 
 
FINAL EDGE
NICHOLSON

WINNER: JACK NICHOLSON

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Finals re-cap

Here’s a quick rundown of the 7 categories:

Category 1: The films. DeNiro’s movies are ranked higher by critics with films like The Godfather Part 2, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas having better ratings than One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chinatown, Five Easy Pieces, and The Shining. They both have magnificent set of movies, but when it comes to pinpointing masterpieces, DeNiro has the better lot. Edge: DeNiro.

Category 2: The roles. Their onscreen presence are undisputed. Only the greatest actors like Brando, Pacino, Newman, Bogart, and Grant, have them. DeNiro is the charged, intense force of nature that could shift emotions in a snap while Nicholson is a supernova of energy that could outshine anyone onscreen. Both have unforgettable, iconic roles and it resulted in a tie. Edge: Tie.

Category 3: Awards & Nominations. Nicholson is the most nominated actor in Oscar history. Edge: Nicholson.

Category 4: The Box-Office. Nicholson’s star power is along the lines of a Tom Hanks and Robin Williams, movies that were made to be seen in movie theatres and appeals to everyone, like Batman, A Few Good Men, and As Good As it Gets. Not until DeNiro made the Meet the Parents series that he really made a killing in the box-office. The money poured in for Jack. Edge: Nicholson.

Category 5: The flops. DeNiro had it good back in the 70s and 80s, but in mid-90s started on a slow downhill path to mediocre movies that picked up speed in the 2000s until the present. The most aching thing here is that no Robert DeNiro movie should ever go straight to video, but it did. Jack had been consistent, came back firing after slumps and ended with his head held up high. Edge: Nicholson.

Category 6: Extra Skills. DeNiro has more felxibility outside of acting and more of a workhorse doing so. He should really go back and concentrate on directing. Edge: DeNiro.

Category 7: Legacy. The directors and actors they have worked with are unparalleled. Some of their movies are also the directors best. Jack got the diversity of directors and DeNiro worked with more great actors. And they were tied with the actresses they’ve worked with. If this had gone DeNiro’s way, the whole contest would’ve ended in a draw. For although DeNiro has made more movies, his movies were more male-oriented stories than Nicholson’s, who has the lion’s share of femme fatales. And they even that one out. Edge: Tie.

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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 8 months ago from Auburn, WA

      Incredible hub. The detail is extraordinary. Sharing on HP, FB and Twitter.

      I'm a DeNiro guy always. Although in many cases, both men played themselves or at the very least, the same character. But DeNiro in Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and GoodFellas beast Jack's best (other than Chinatown). That maybe a case of just the films being better overall.

    • Dallas Wilkinson profile image

      Dallas Wilkinson 8 months ago

      Very good hub with incredible research. Two of my favorite actors of all time. Only Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart were ever better. Great system you're developing. Hope to see more.

    • GJones100 profile image
      Author

      GJones 8 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      @lions 44

      Thanks! DeNiro and Nicholson have always been a tough call.

      @Dallas Wilkinson

      Cooper vs Stewart is something to consider.

      Im always open suggestions! Thanks!

    • 8 months ago

      Thanks. Hope to see more of these comparisons whoever you choose to do. Very interesting.

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