best film: Nicole Kidman’s best two films are Eyes Wide Shut from Stanley Kubrick and Moulin Rouge! from Australian auteur Baz Luhrmann. It would be difficult to find to more dissimilar films- a tribute both Kidman’s brave role choices and her range as an actor. Ultimately, it is Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick’s final film, that ends up Kidman’s single strongest overall film. Eyes Wide Shut also marks Kubrick’s first film since 1987’s Full Metal Jacket– just a crazy long incubation period. Kidman and costar (and husband at the time) Cruise should get some credit for the endless preparation and giving themselves to this film and these characters. Eyes Wide Shut marks the third and final (perhaps because of this movie- this was famously a film that spend over a year in production) pairing of (at the time) real life husband and wife megastar couple.
best performance: Moulin Rouge! has Kidman in a romantic and musical lead (one of the best romances and musicals of the 21st century any way you slice it), battling an illness, and singing quite well. This is simply a role that has everything and features her in high Katharine Hepburn-like screwball comedy in certain scenes, too on top of everything else. She excels all the way around. She is funny, tragic, and beautiful. It is a remarkable performance. Baz’s Truffaut-like playfulness is paired with his use of over-the-top color and rapid cutting low ASL. Baz uses freeze frames, overlapping dialogue, jump cuts, varying film stock speed—a cocaine rush of energy mixed with an orgy of image and sound- especially in those wild as hell opening twenty minutes.
stylistic innovations/traits: Kidman may not have that one big The Passion of Joan of Arc or Three Colours: Blue performance- but the depth of filmography is absolutely there with performances crying out to be stuffed into that top five list below. Kidman’s nearly six-foot frame and elegant beauty may have help put her on the map- but she has put her runway model looks to good use- seeking out auteur work and ambitious projects for thirty years. She is in seventeen (17) archiveable films now with no real cameos or marginal parts among them. She has the capacity to play the naïve Deborah Kerr in The Innocents-like role (The Others) – carrying a film then turn around and show off a little in something like The Hours. She made a pair of superior auteur driven films in 2017 (Sofia Coppola, Yorgos Lanthimos) that both landed in the top ten of the year and was bold enough to star in Jonathan Glazer’s Birth. And all five of these films just mentioned (The Others, The Hours, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Beguiled, and Birth) are films that land outside of her top five performances- that is the definition of a deep filmography.
directors worked with: Baz Luhrmann (2), her fellow countryman of course (Nicole Kidman may have been technically born in the United States- but she is an Australian actor) and she has an extended list of other very worthy collaborators including Stanley Kubrick, Lar von Trier, Sofia Coppola, Jane Campion, Gus Van Sant, Anthony Minghella, Jonathan Glazer, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Robert Eggers.
top five performances:
- Moulin Rouge!
- Eyes Wide Shut
- The Portrait of a Lady
- To Die For