A recipient of numerous awards and accolades, namely an Academy Award, a BAFTA, a SAG, six Golden Globes and two Emmys, American-Australian actress and producer, Nicole Kidman is popular for her vast and indelible filmography across all genres.
Although she was initially “very shy”, Kidman gradually dropped out of high school to pursue full-time acting, before making her debut at 16 in the Australian remake of Bush Christmas. She gained recognition with films like BMX Bandits and Windrider, before gaining international acclaim with Dead Calm. She soon starred in the 1990 film Days of Thunder alongside then-boyfriend Tom Cruise, earning her international breakthrough role.
Kidman has been unstoppable ever since, appearing in films like Flirting, Billy Bathgate, Far and Away, Malice, My Life, Batman Forever, The Portrait of a Lady, The Peacemaker, The Hours and more. The actress also received Oliver Award nominations for her theatrical performances.
From Alec Baldwin and Michael Keaton to John Malkovich and George Clooney, Kidman has starred with some of the biggest names in the industry, managing to dominate the screen with her incredible performances irrespective of her screentime. She became yet another household phenomenon with her Emmy-winning performance in the television series, Big Little Lies.
Kidman has currently been roped in to play Joey King’s mother in a yet-to-be-titled Richard LaGravenese Netflix rom-com which also stars Zac Efron. Appearing in the romantic comedy will be a breath of fresh air for her after her incessant heavily dramatized roles in Being the Ricardos, The Undoing and The Northman. She was recently nominated for an Oscar for her brilliant performance as Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos.
Kidman has always identified as a “character actor”. Kidman said, “I just try to stay completely in the role as the actor and as the character.” talking about how she was trained to be a character actor, she said, ” I believe in changing the way you look, the way you move, the way you speak. I’m not great at playing myself, so what really gives me the greatest satisfaction is changing into something else.”
On Kidman’s 55th birthday, let us take a look at her five best films now streaming on Netflix:
The 5 best Nicole Kidman films on Netflix
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)
Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Alicia Silverstone, Sunny Suljic and others, Lanthimos’ 2017 film sees Farrell as a skilful cardiothoracic surgeon with somnophilic tendencies indulged by his wife. Soon, he meets an elusive teen named Martin who seeks comfort following the loss of his father. After he introduces Martin to his family, things begin to go awry as Martin’s sinister, ulterior motives are revealed.
Visually striking and surreal, Lanthimos’ exploration of life and death takes a fascinating yet disturbing spiritual route in an eerie, harrowing narrative. While Farrell was reportedly nauseous after reading the script, Kidman had “no idea” how to present it as a comedy and called the film “really strange” yet “unique and compelling”.
The Interpreter (Sydney Pollack, 2005)
An interpreter ends up hearing an alleged plan for the assassination of the Matobo president while she is at the United Nations quarters. Her alert prompts Secret Service Agents Keller and Woods to delve deeper into the case. Soon, they suspect the interpreter, who has quite a few shady relations and murky connections with the opponent camps.
Filled with suspense and well-stylized dramatic tension, the film stars Kidman, Catherine Keener and Sean Penn. While Penn is stellar in his role as one of the agents, Kidman dominates the screen as the unpredictable and unreliable interpreter. Kidman loved playing the idea of a “smart woman who speaks a lot of languages, is proactive and is not the victim”. She also cited her innate interest in working with Penn as one of the major reasons why she chose to take up the role.
Lion (Garth Davis, 2016)
This heartwarming film is based on Saroo Brierley’s real-life story about returning with his long-lost family after years of separation. After he falls asleep on a train to Calcutta unwittingly, a young Saroo loses his brother in 1986. After being homeless for a while, a kind Australian couple adopt him. However, the yearning for home compels him to find his way back to his village and reunite with his family.
Starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and more, the film emphasises the undying desire and nostalgia to return to one’s home. Incredible performances make this visually exhilarating and moving journey absolutely unforgettable. The film made Kidman cry relentlessly and she described the film as a “love letter” dedicated to the two children she adopted with Tom Cruise while they were still married.
The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola, 2017)
The film is set during the Civil War when a young girl at seminary chances upon an unconscious soldier. After he is taken in by the school and nursed back to health, he begins to show his manipulative and ominous side as it leads to a spark in arousal among the ladies who vie for his attention, betraying the ethos of the school. However, once they realise his sinister nature, these “beguiled” women begin to seek revenge and action.
Coppola went on to become the first-ever woman to win the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival in fifty years with her brilliant deconstruction of the female gaze in Gothic horror. Brilliant performances from Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell among others, helped emphasise the themes of betrayal and jealousy that pervade the claustrophobic atmosphere.
Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
Stanley Kubrick was always inclined to make a sex comedy with a “wide and sombre streak”. Based on Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 novella, Traumnovella, Kubrick conjured an erotic fever dream that plays out as a surreal and sensual odyssey of lust, sex, turbulent marriages, obsession and nudity against a claustrophobic backdrop of insecurities, jealousy and anxiety. It features a New York City doctor and his wife at the centre who discuss sexual fetishes and fantasies after an opulent Christmas Party.
Soon, the doctor is lured to bizarre orgies which pose a significant threat to him, his family and his reputation. Kubrick was interested to cast Tom Cruise and his then-wife Nicole Kidman in the lead. After much persuasion, he managed to convince them and even compelled them to not take up any other project till they finished shooting the film to avoid distraction or errors.