As one of Hollywood’s most lauded heavyweights, we’ve decided to rate Paul Newman’s top performances.
Hollywood has long held Paul Newman in high regard as one of the greatest heavyweight performers of all time. Newman’s big-screen debut came in the 1954 picture The Silver Chalice, after a half-decade of television work. Since then, Newman has been nominated for a stunning 10 Oscars. He won one for his acting ability, one for his cinematic accomplishments, and one for his charity activities outside of the profession.
From 1957 until 2006, Newman received 16 Golden Globe nominations, six of which he won. Join us as we take a look at some of the man’s most memorable film roles to get a better sense of his immense value to the film industry.
10. Lew Harper – Harper/The Drowning Pool (1966-1975)
When he played Lew Harper in two distinct films over the course of a decade, Newman wasn’t nominated for any of his outstanding onscreen performances.
Stuart Rosenberg was the director of both films, therefore there is a sense of continuity between them. In Harper, an affluent California woman hires Lew to find her husband, who has been kidnapped. For the sake of a friend’s marriage, Harper travels to the Deep South in The Drowning Pool. In both films, Newman shines.
9. Gallagher – Absence Of Malice (1981)
His performance as Gallagher in Sydney Pollack’s first-rate thriller, Absence of Malice, earned Newman his sixth Oscar nomination of his career.
Gallagher’s (Newman’s) life falls apart after a fabricated news report claims he was involved in the death of a local union boss. It’s particularly difficult for Gallagher to clear his record because his late father was a dishonest mafioso. The fact that Gallagher has a good alibi isn’t enough for him to keep quiet in order to protect his close buddy Teresa (Melinda Dillon).
8. Brick Pollitt – Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Richard Brooks’ brilliant adaptation of Tennesee Williams’ classic drama, was Newman’s first Oscar nomination, alongside Elizabeth Taylor.
While playing Brick Pollitt, an ex-football star whose days are filled with alcoholic binges, Newman is able to sink his teeth into the character’s juicy part (Taylor). A rollercoaster of old wounds and golden memories is generated as Brick reunites with his cancer-stricken father, Big Daddy (Burl Ives).
7. Donald Sullivan – Nobody’s Fool (1994)
In Nobody’s Fool, Newman portrays the jaded and defiant small-town hustler Sully, who battles against the ravages of time and attrition. Thus, Newman received his ninth and penultimate nod for an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Robert Benton’s adaptation of Richard Russo’s novel, Nobody’s Fool, is an honest and at times scathing look at Donald Sullivan, an upstate New York old fogey who is adamant about sticking to his guns and refusing to change. The return of Sully’s family forces him to face his past and move forward.
6. Henry Gondorff – The Sting (1982)
In George Roy Hill’s classic comedy caper The Sting, Newman plays Harry Gondorf, a crafty conman and sage elder statesman who is both charming and intimidating.
When Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker plan a sophisticated heist to steal money from a high stakes poker game, Newman and Redford have an unmatched screen connection that captivates the audience. Gondorff’s insight is matched only by his unwavering manner.
5. Frank Galvin – The Verdict (1982)
Critics and cinephiles all around the world agree that Newman’s performance in The Verdict is his best ever. It’s impossible to argue against this notion when Sidney Lumet is directing from a David Mamet screenplay.
For most of the film, Newman plays Frank Galvin, an alcoholic litigator who does most of his work in bars. A career ruined by alcohol, Galvin takes on medical malpractice coverup in an attempt to redeem himself. He must exorcise his own demons in order to help a family that has been wronged get their due justice.
4. Hud Bannon – Hud (1963)
For the film buffs out there, here’s a morsel of knowledge. For Newman, picture titles beginning with the initial H became a curse following the success of Hud and The Hustler. Harper and Hombre were then created in the following few years by him.
When it comes to Hud Bannon, Newman’s portrayal of a young rancher who is unsure of his own morals and wants to escape his father’s shadow was the best Newman has ever done. Hud drinks after he mistakenly kills his sibling in a vehicle accident. An incredibly moving performance, deserving of her Oscar nomination.
3. Luke Jackson – Cool Hand Luke (1967)
After nine years without an Oscar nomination, Newman was nominated for a fourth time for his role as Cool Hand Luke, a famous counterculture rebel who refuses to follow the law.
Luke Jackson, who was sentenced to two years in prison, is now serving time in a prison in the southern United States. On his entrance at the prison, Newman exudes an unmatched coolness as he refuses to adhere to the prison industrial complex’s legal constraints. The brutal jail regime threatens to crush Luke’s unbreakable spirit.
2. Butch Cassidy – Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969)
To think that Newman was overlooked for The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a little hard to accept. Not an Oscar or a Golden Globe. Nothing!
Even still, we all know that Butch Cassidy is one of Newman’s most recognizable characters to date. The Newman/Redford coupling is one of the greatest casting decisions ever made, because to the witty banter between Butch and Sundance. It’s an all-time great.
1. Eddie Felson – The Hustler/The Color Of Money (1961-1986)
Newman was nominated for an Academy Award for the second time for his portrayal of Fast Eddie Felson in The Hustler. Newman finally won the Best Actor Oscar twenty-five years later for playing the same character in The Color of Money.
A young pool hall junkie, Felson, tries to make a fortune by cheating less-experienced players in The Hustler. When Tom Cruise stars as a young, hotshot pool player in The Color of Money, veteran hustler Felson takes him under his wing and teaches him everything he’s learned over the past 25 years.