6. Jack Nicholson -- ‘The Departed’
It’s safe to say that Jack Nicholson’s oeuvre has never been lauded for its subtlety. And as the Whitey Bulger-inspired mob boss, Frank Costello, Jack doesn’t skimp on his particular brand of scene-munching excess. With unkempt hair and his trademark eyebrows creeping into the branches of his widow’s peak, Nicholson cackles, barks, and rollicks in the absolute anarchy unfolding around him. Whether casually dining in the company of a severed hand, imitating a festering rodent, or flinging blow around his debaucherous boudoir, every moment with Boston’s underground kingpin is a disconcerting tightrope walk across his psychosis. Scorsese frames Costello as the devil incarnate (witness his blatant crimson hue while viewing “Lucia di Lammermoor”) and, as he has so many times in his career, Jack Nicholson nails the manipulative, menacing charisma essential to the part.