10 Great Movie Performances (That Got Better The Second Time You Watched)

9. Jack Nicholson - The Shining

Jack Nicholson The Shining
Warner Bros.

The Shining is pretty much the single most compelling monument to the warped, controversial genius of Stanley Kubrick. He takes Stephen King's source material and adds his own spin - to the extent that King was less than enthusiastic about his handling of the story - with subtexts and provocative symbolism that is weighty enough to inspire discourse, but vague enough to defy concrete interpretation. It's also a busy story, with supernatural lore at work as well as the conflicts within the Torrence family.

Crucially, it's a film that demands subsequent rewatches, particularly because the density of the story makes it impossible to appreciate everything at once. And those rewatches only improve Jack Nicholson's stunning, career-best performance as Jack. Knowing the revelation at the end hinted by that photograph, you head back in looking for clues of his true nature and watching him closer is infinitely rewarding.

There is subtlety behind the mania and his spiral into darkness is horribly convincing. While Shelley Duvall's performance is also brilliant, hers is a product of Kubrick's mental assault of her, whereas Nicholson's is built more in smaller details and it's one that just gets better and better.

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