NEW YORK -- Those in the know say he's the man to beat on Oscar night. The man is Nick Nolte, star of the critically acclaimed hits, "The Prince of Tides" and "Cape Fear."
Mr. Nolte won a Golden Globe nomination as best dramatic actor for "Tides" Saturday night. The Los Angeles Films Critics Association also voted Mr. Nolte best actor for "Tides." The movie was No. 3 at the box office last week, having grossed $40.1 million.
Many experts predict that Mr. Nolte will be nominated for an Academy Award as best actor for his role as Tom Wingo, the unemployed Southern football coach in the Barbra Streisand-directed "Prince of Tides." Others say that his turn as uptight lawyer Sam Bowden in Martin Scorsese's remake of "Cape Fear" is equally memorable.
Mr. Nolte, 50, reacts to the Oscar talk with a typical shrug of his shambling shoulders; likewise the back-to-back releases of "Tides" and "Fear." "It's not by my design," he said during a recent interview. "It's just an accident that both films are coming out at this time."
In "Cape Fear," Sam Bowden is unable to confront the schism in his marriage to Leigh (Jessica Lange), the smoldering sexuality of their teen-age daughter, Danielle (Juliette Lewis), and the threat of psychopath Max Cady (Robert De Niro). His character in "Tides," Tom Wingo, copes with his sister's attempted suicide, and comes face to face with her psychiatrist, Dr. Susan Lowenstein (Streisand) and his own painful childhood. While he's portraying Southerners in both "Tides" and "Fear," each role is distinct, said Mr. Nolte, who has a house between Wilmington, N.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., "a couple of hundred miles" north of Beaufort, S.C., where "Tides" was filmed.
"There's a tremendous difference in that Sam Bowden is a man not willing to deal with the past or any of that persona. He's more of a man who is in control and has to be in control and likes the world of male-control attitude, whereas Tom Wingo knows that this is a peculiar type of existence of always needing control, always competing ...."