After a string of critically-acclaimed performances, including the Baz Luhrmann musical Moulin Rouge! (2001), Kidman went for the Oscar gold with The Hours (2002). She also starred as Virginia Woolf in Lars von Trier’s Dogville and took on the role of a catty rival for Jennifer Aniston in Dennis Dugan’s comedy Go With It (2011).
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Nicole Kidman delivers a stunning turn as Satine, the hot-blooded courtesan in this Parisian cabaret musical. Ewan McGregor co-stars as Christian, an idealistic writer swept up in the bohemian revolution and who gushes about Freedom, Beauty, Truth, and Love.
The movie may have set the stage for a revival of movie musicals, but it was Kidman’s layered performance that brought them back in a big way.
She kept audiences, awards prognosticators, and the Tomatometer guessing by mixing indie curiosities with mainstream studio fare. Her most recent movies include playing the mother of a mermaid in Aquaman and portraying Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin’s biopic Being the Ricardos (2021). She also returned to Big Little Lies for its second season.
The Hours (2002)
This complex adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was a career highlight for Kidman, who held her own against the formidable likes of Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep. The Hours is a meditation on life, death and literature, and it’s “a film that reveals more layers upon repeated viewing,” says FilmLifestyle.
Using an ouroboros structure (like the one in the novel), director Stephen Daldry fearlessly explores alienation, mental anguish and the complex web of interconnectedness between ourselves and others. This is highlighted by inspired echoes that reverberate throughout the lookmovie, such as the ringing of an alarm clock and even the simple cracking of an egg. The result is both beautiful and affecting.
After a handful of well-received movies, Kidman solidified her star status with the release of Dogville, Danish loose cannon Lars von Trier’s three-hour drama set in a fictional mountain town. The movie features Grace, a beautiful but vulnerable fugitive pursued by gangsters and police who is taken in by the good-natured residents who hide her in exchange for her performing menial tasks.
Despite its implausibility and dead spots, the film is powerful, stinging and technically accomplished. Even those who are long-time Von Trier haters will be forced to acknowledge the actress’s skill and Paul Bettany’s twisted complexity. The scene in which Grace is brutally beaten for her secret will break your heart.
The Golden Compass (2007)
After her marriage to Tom Cruise ended, Kidman focused on her acting career and appeared in a variety of films. From blockbusters to off kilter fare, she continued to impress critics in movies like Moulin Rouge! and Eyes Wide Shut.
Her portrayal of the feisty heroine Lyra in this film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials is the movie’s best asset, and her gilt-blond hair and alabaster skin look positively glowing. She’s also a valuable human fulcrum amid the movie’s CGI wizardry.
In 2017, Kidman starred as the mother of the eponymous superhero in Aquaman and as a grizzled detective in Boy Erased, both of which received critical acclaim. She also had a prominent role as the headmistress of a Southern boarding school in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled.
Margot at the Wedding (2007)
Margot at the Wedding is an intensely moving drama that delves into the complexities of dysfunctional family dynamics. Directed by Noah Baumbach, writer of The Squid and the Whale, this movie focuses on the estranged siblings Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Margot.
Kidman is utterly compelling as Margot, a self-absorbed short-story writer of modest fame who arrives at the beach house with her pubescent son Claude (Zane Pais) to attend Pauline’s wedding to ne’er-do-well novelist Malcolm (Jack Black). The sisters engage in an unrelenting war of words and put downs that expose their most raw vulnerabilities. This is a film that grows in power on subsequent viewings.
The Family Fang (2009)
In the ’90s, Kidman proved that she had no problem mastering new genres, from blockbuster fare to off kilter, attention-grabbing roles such as Gus Van Sant’s To Die For and Stanley Kubrick’s erotic thriller Eyes Wide Shut. She continued her career in the aughts with critical darlings such as Moulin Rouge! and The Hours, while also scoring significant awards buzz for her work in films like Rabbit Hole and Destroyer.
The Family Fang is a layered drama that examines the definition of art and explores the bonds between siblings. Despite some flaws in the plot (back-and-forth time jumps become disorienting and Bateman adds too much emphasis to more than one unnecessary montage), this is an overall intriguing film.
Secret in Their Eyes (2013)
After securing her first starring role in Days of Thunder, Kidman kept critics, awards prognosticators, and even our Tomatometer guessing with a series of more daring indie curiosities. The ’90s saw her play everything from a catty high school girl to Dustin Hoffman’s moll.
Her work in Gus Van Sant’s To Die For and the final film Stanley Kubrick made (Eyes Wide Shut) showcased her range and pushed her to explore new genres. In the ’00s, she starred in both musicals and dark dramas like Rabbit Hole. Then, in the 2010s, she started racking up prestige TV series like Big Little Lies and Top of the Lake. As of 2020, she’s proving her mettle in thrillers like Destroyer and Nine Perfect Strangers.
Director Garth Davis’s adaptation of the memoir A Long Way Home, written by Saroo Brierley, stars Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. It was nominated in six Oscar categories at the 89th Academy Awards and won two BAFTAs.
Fraser shot some of the film with handheld cameras for a jittery immediacy, but he also relied on gimbal rigs and drones to achieve sweeping aerial panoramas. The DP says he found himself getting emotional while shooting scenes involving Saroo’s search for his mother.
After a series of acclaimed indie curiosities, Kidman re teamed with Kelly for the HBO drama Big Little Lies (2017–2019), which earned her a fourth PrimeTime Emmy nomination. She next starred in Aaron Sorkin’s Lucille Ball biopic Being the Ricardos (2021).