Nick Nolte has played many memorable characters, but one in particular -- Wade Whitehouse in 1998's 'Affliction' -- edges out the others by a hair for its intensity and sheer guts. Nolte's an actor whose scrappy physicality and distinctive, gravelly voice are just the proverbial icing on the cake of his power on-screen. Whether playing heavies in gritty dramas ('Q&A,' 'Mulholland Falls'), romantic leads ('The Prince of Tides') or comedic characters ('Down and Out in Beverly Hills,' 'Tropic Thunder'), Nolte is always compelling. Even his less successful roles ('Jefferson in Paris') are at least interesting.
Nolte turns 70 this week, a good time to voice our appreciation for the man who -- even through some tough personal travails, notably a battle with alcoholism -- has puts enormous amount of heart and soul into his movies, never more so than 'Affliction.'