Jack Nicholson may be known more for his leading roles, but he just won Gold Derby’s poll of Best Supporting Actor Oscar winners of the 1980s. Nicholson has been voted your favorite Best Supporting Actor of that decade, for his performance as retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove in James L. Brooks‘ Best Picture winner “Terms of Endearment” (1983).
Nicholson won with 19% of the vote, narrowly beating several beloved performances. Denzel Washington (“Glory”) came in second place with 16%, followed by Sean Connery (“The Untouchables”) and Kevin Kline (“A Fish Called Wanda”) at 15% each. Timothy Hutton (“Ordinary People”) finished out the top five at 13%.
Beyond this five there was a drop-off, with Michael Caine (“Hannah and Her Sisters”) netting 7%, Louis Gossett Jr. (“An Officer and a Gentleman”) and Haing S. Ngor (“The Killing Fields”) at 5% each and John Gielgud (“Arthur”) at 3%. Don Ameche (“Cocoon”) came in last with 2% of the vote.
In “Terms of Endearment” Nicholson is in pure charm mode as the neighbor of Shirley MacLaine‘s Aurora, with whom he has a love affair. Nicholson has insane chemistry with MacLaine, with Garrett acting as a free-spirited reprieve from Aurora’s distressing relationship with her daughter, Emma (Debra Winger).
This was Nicholson’s second Oscar win, following his victory as Best Actor for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975), which, like “Terms of Endearment,” also won Best Picture. He would earn another Oscar in 1997 for “As Good as It Gets,” though that film did not win Best Picture. Nicholson finished in seventh place in Gold Derby’s poll of the top Best Actor winner of the ’90s.