Nicole Kidman is one of the talented actresses of our time who may be hampered by good looks. "Oh, how sad for her," you say to yourself over your morning coffee. But really, if she were less beautiful, perhaps her immense skill would be only all too clear. Three of the five selected films in this article are period pieces, in which Kidman does particularly well, with her airy, waifish good looks. There is a certain graceful nature to the way that she carries herself, which blends time and place in a way that is both convincing and unobtrusive.
Without further ado, here are the top five films in which Nicole Kidman has acted impeccably:
5. Dogville poses questions so conscientiously and forcefully that only a superior cast could carry Lars Von Trier's dark drama about a town that turns against itself when a mysterious stranger is cast into their midst. With a sparse and minimal set, Kidman here is the focus. Her precise acting carries the film from theoretically interesting to a savage masterpiece. She is polite, retiring, and quiet to a fault, which only accentuates the desperate situations she finds her character in. Ever aware that we are watching a film, it is the shocking conclusion that provides insight into the multifaceted character played by Kidman.
4. Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut offers up a portrait of a woman caught in a fidelity struggle with her husband. Strange people and events threaten to pull them apart and the issue of sex takes center stage. That she was, in fact, married to Tom Cruise, who plays her fictional husband, further opens this film up for all kinds of wacky interpretations. The film is often criticized as being obtuse, but Kidman here is a little cruel, a little harsher, taunting her husband with the tantalizing possibilities of her imagined exploits. Still infinitely alluring, Kidman sleepily pulls us through the film, which may end up as only a dream within a dream.
3. Far and Away is broad in scope, and tone. Down-on-their-luck Irish travel to America with hopes of laying claim to some of the promise, but more importantly, some of the land to be acquired. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman star again in this period drama. Kidman's accent is refined, and on the money, as is her fiery portrayal of a rich woman turned poor. Her performance is both proud and heartbreaking simultaneously.
2. Margot at the Wedding finds us squaring off with a harsh, bitter Kidman as the titular Margot. She's pulling from a well of angst here as an older sister disapproving of her sister Pauline's (Jennifer Jason Leigh) impending marriage to Malcolm (Jack Black). Along with Margot for the ride is her young son, and the story follows the fragile Margot as she attempts to order both her own life and the lives of those around her. This film may not have been the smash hit that Moulin Rouge was, but Kidman's performance is the cornerstone of a solid film. Her carefully balanced neurosis and the few tender moments she choreographs make it one of her most impressive roles yet.
1. Cold Mountain is one of the best period films ever made, replete with perfect costuming, old-time music, and Jude Law. Need we say more? Kidman perfects her veneer as a Southern genteel preacher's daughter transplanted to South Carolina, who falls for a man she barely knows. When he is sent off to war, the film chronicles the trials faced by each as they journey back towards one another. Kidman's desperation and helplessness are palpable as lovelorn Ada, even as she attempts to soldier on, hoping against hope that her love will return to her. By the end of the film her tired and worn demeanor perfectly mirror the darkness of the Civil War.
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