Having received unanimous acclaim for her performance in HBO’s Big Little Lies and the 70th Anniversary Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, we salute Nicole Kidman and celebrate five of our favourite performances.
The Paperboy (2012)
No film fits the description “hot mess” as well as Lee Daniel’s The Paperboy. Clammy, claustrophobic and dripping in sweat, The Paperboy was an uncomfortable joyride through swampy Florida. Kidman played Charlotte Bless with a sexuality that wasn’t titillating or particularly erotic but thrillingly unpredictable and triumphantly camp. Grotesque and OTT, Kidman picked up a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for her performance in film that probably wasn’t her bestbut is certainly her most fun.
To Die For (1995)
Originally offered to Meg Ryan, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Kidman playing Suzanne Stone – the local meteorologist who enlists two students into killing her husband. In Kidman’s hand’s Suzanne becomes an artfully, and dangerously believable, master of manipulation. While pitched as a mockumentary, Kidman fleshes out the character, drawing you in with her unique combination of beauty and calculation. A satire on fame, it’s a film and performance that’s aged remarkably well.
Directed by Park Chan-wook, Stoker remains criminally underappreciated. The film sees Kidman as Evelyn Stoker, a mother competing with her daughter (Mia Wasikowska) for the attention of her dead husband’s brother. Less voyeuristic than that synopsis would suggest, the film was a surprisingly pointed, if not slightly deranged, exploration of the competitive pressures placed on women and motherhood. Stoker also featured a classic Kidman monologue, “Personally speaking, I can’t wait to watch life tear you apart”, nothing short of iconic.
Practical Magic (1998)
Somewhat lost in the recent renaissance and reappraisal of witches on film/Television (see Hocus Pocus, Charmed and The Craft) is 1998’s Practical Magic. Veering wildly between horror, comedy and romance, the film has a peculiar charm that its rom-com billing did no favours. Kidman runs the full gamut, charming and seductive to possessed by her dead lover.
Rabbit Hole (2010)
Kidman is devastating in the Rabbit Hole as a mother of 4-year-old who has recently been killed in accident. It's an exhausting performance that surprises you with every viewing, a deeply affecting and complex portrayal of an all-consuming grief and how one woman navigates that journey. Flitting effortlessly between light and gut-wrenching darkness, Kidman is astonishing in a role that many seem to now overlook despite receiving her third of four Oscar nominations.
The Beguiled, starring Nicole Kidman, will open in the UK on 23 June 2017