“Life is short, and it is here to be lived.” – Kate Winslet
English actress Kate Winslet has established herself as one of the biggest names in the film industry with stellar performances in cult classics like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as well as popular works like Titanic. She has received widespread commercial success and critical acclaim, including three BAFTA Awards, an Emmy Award, a Grammy and an Academy Award for her work in The Reader.
In an interview, Winslet once commented: “For me, the bottom line is to play things that I wouldn’t necessarily expect to play. It’s important for me to do things that scare the shit out of me and things that don’t necessarily come easily. I like to make sure I feel challenged.”
She added, “The truth is, I don’t want to burn out. I always want to be interested and interesting to other people. Things start to shift and change as one gets older and you become a more interesting person. I need to keep mixing it up if I want to do this for the long haul, and I definitely do, so that seems to be the most sensible way about doing it.”
With an array of dizzyingly impressive performances over a stellar career, here we’re exploring Kate Winslet’s best movies as a tribute to one of the top contemporary acting talents.
Best Kate Winslet films on Netflix right now:
Ammonite (Francis Lee – 2020)
A recent effort by Winslet, Francis Lee’s LGBTQIA+ feature was one of the most anticipated films of 2020. Winslet plays the role of an English palaeontologist named Mary Anning in a fictional account of Anning’s imaginary romantic relationship with the geologist Charlotte Murchison (played by Saoirse Ronan).
While Ammonite failed to convince audiences and critics who thought that the film lacked the necessary momentum, nobody argued against the undeniable brilliance of Winslet who successfully transformed Ammonite into something more than a formulaic, revisionist period piece.
Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee – 1995)
Ang Lee’s 1995 adaptation of the famous Jane Austen novel features Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, the younger sister of Elinor (played by Emma Thompson). She received widespread critical acclaim for her performance which won her the SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress and she went on to receive her first Oscar nomination for the film.
“But I’m not that period babe, not at all,” Winslet addressed her fears of being pigeonholed as a period piece specialist. “I haven’t really sat back and addressed the fact I have done all these period films. Some people say, ‘Don’t you want to do something modern?’ I suppose I do. But I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing at all. I do feel very comfortable in the clothing.”
The Reader (Stephen Daldry – 2008)
Winslet won her first Academy Award for this 2008 drama. The Reader stars Winslet as a woman who has an affair during WWII with a young man and then is later tried for Nazi war crimes. She also won a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and awards from almost every prestigious critics’ circle.
“The role, the character, the novel first came to my attention six years ago, when I was pregnant with our son, Joe,” Winslet revealed. “I read the book and I was 27 at the time and I was absolutely gripped and compelled and ultimately devastated by the novel and immediately thought, ‘Oh well, someone must be making this into a movie.”
Titanic (James Cameron – 1997)
Arriving at Netflix this month is one of Winslet’s most famous productions.
This three-hour epic presents one of the world’s most tragic events in the form of a love story. It addresses issues ranging from the anthropocentric arrogance of man’s belief in technology to class conflicts. Winslet plays Rose, a 17-year old aristocrat who falls in love with a poor Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio). The film swept the Academy Awards, winning 11 prizes including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing for Cameron.
Cameron reflected, “Titanic was conceived as a love story. If I could have done it without one effect, I would’ve been happy. It was definitely a goal to integrate a very personal, emotional style with spectacle – and try to make that not be chocolate syrup on a cheeseburger, you know. The cathartic experience is what made the film work.”
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry – 2004)
Written by the acclaimed Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is undoubtedly Winslet’s best film and it also features the best performance of her career. Unlike the period pieces she mostly featured in, this 2004 work of art conducts a surreal psychological examination of the nature of a romantic relationship. Kaufman won the Academy Award for his screenplay and Winslet earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
Winslet said, “It’s really fun to take risks and it’s really fun to play lots of different characters. Clementine was the most eccentric part that I’ve ever played. I just had so much fun doing her. What an unlikely pairing. I mean, you wouldn’t imagine that Jim Carrey and I would ever do a movie together.
“When I was sent the script and was asked to do it, I just thought, ‘Well, there’s no way I’m not going to do this’ because I knew that it would be a totally new experience and very challenging, which it was both of those things.”