Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino: 20 best performances in Mike Nichols films

I hated waking up to the Mike Nichols news this morning. That's losing one of the titans right there. That's a loss that you don't fully register until the lack of that artistic voice is later felt in a deep way. But as I always say, we have the work. We have the movies. So the voice, in its way, does endure. And what Nichols' gift to cinema really was, in so many ways, was how fruitful his collaborations with his actors were and the truths that seemed to only be discovered under his watch.

That's where my head went this morning, along with a number of us at HitFix. It says something that true pillars of the pantheon, from Jack Nicholson to Meryl Streep to Emma Thompson, came back to him multiple times. A performer flourished in front of Nichols' camera, the resulting work often serving as a new milestone in his or her career.

And what a bounty of complex, fleshed-out, strong female characters. That in and of itself would be a noteworthy legacy.

So with all of that in mind, the staff put our heads together on the best of the best. It was an embarrassment of riches. Speaking for myself, the task was nigh impossible as you get to a point where you're surveying a field of “amazing” and “also amazing.” How do you pick? Well, we tried, so click through the gallery below to see what we were thinking. And of course, feel free to offer up your thoughts or your own list in the comments section below.