In Defense of Nicole Kidman, The Best Actress of Her Generation

Whenever it is announced that Nicole Kidman is going to be starring in something, I have to brace for all the negative comments that will be made on the comments section of any website that carries those news. Most of these comments will be Botox or facial expression related. Why the hate? Is it because of all the Botox she has put into her face? Or is it because of the career boost that her relationship with Tom Cruise gave her? I guess we’ll never know, but what I do know is that she is the best actress of her generation.

No other actress of her generation has worked with as many auteurs as she has. Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut), Gus Van Sant (To Die For), Lars Von Trier (Dogville), Baz Luhrman (Moulin Rouge! and Australia), Oliver Hirschbiegel(The Invasion), Rob Marshall (Nine), George Miller (Happy Feet), Nora Ephron (Bewitched), Sydney Pollack (The Interpreter), Anthony Mighella (Cold Mountain), Stephen Daldry (The Hours), Alejandro Amenabar (The Others), Jane Campion ( Portrait of a Lady), Ron Howard (Far and Away), Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever), and Noah Baumbach (Margot at the Wedding) are some

of the directors she’s worked with. And she will soon be starring in movies directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Rabbit Hole) and Tomas Alfedson (The Danish Girl).

Yes, most people would say that those movies she starred in were the worst of their respective directors’ careers (especially Far and Away, The Invasion, and, some would say, Eyes Wide Shut), and I do hate some of them myself. However, are these failures her fault? Does her presence bring the quality of the movie down? In my opinion it is the fault of the writer, and sometimes the director, for not being able to bring quality material to the screen. In most of her movies she brings her A-game and sometimes turns into the only highlight of a piece of crap.

With that, now I’m going to analyze all the movies that I’ve seen of hers, as well as her performances. I have not seen them all, but with this you’ll see where I’m coming from about her being the best actress working today (after Meryl Streep, of course). I’ll list them and analyze them in alphabetical order, some of them I’ve not seen in a long time, but I’ll do it from memory.

–     Australia- The film is very flawed, but I love it. Here Kidman is great at giving a performance similar to those in the classic epic romances. She doesn’t pretend it is any more than that.

Batman Forever– One of the worst Batman movies, but she does what she has to do, and nothing more.

Bewitched– The concept was ambitious but it didn’t work, and Kidman didn’t have much to do. This one was one of those instances where her performance was meh.

Cold Mountain– Love it, the entire cast is amazing.

Dogville– Her bravest performance yet.

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus– The movie would have been better had it been a straight biopic, but she is great as  Arbus.

The Golden Compass– Had this movie been better and the follow-ups would have been made, she would have been to His Dark Materials what Ian McKellen was to Lord of the Rings

Happy Feet– Very little role, but she does what she has to

The Hours– Crap film, good performance. She did not deserve to win the Oscar.

The Interpreter– I doubt interpreters at the UN look like her, but she makes it work.

Margot at the Wedding– Crap film, but she gives one of the best performances of it’s year.

Moulin Rouge!– Her second-best performance and one of the top-10 performances of the decade in one of the top 10 movies of the decade

To Die For– Her best performance and one of my favorite performances of all time.

The Others– Her third-best performance. There was lots of room for her to chew scenery, but she avoided that.

Practical Magic– It is mostly about Sandra Bullock, but I love her as the rebellious sister.

The Stepford Wives– A guilty pleasure of mine. Not her best performance, but it adds to the camp of the whole movie.

So, yes, she does have a lot of failures, but not performance-wise. She is one of the few actresses who are willing to take risks. First off, any actress that works with Lars Von Trier is a brave actress in my book. He just put them through so many challenges that one can’t help but feel for them. In fact, I read that Von Trier offered her the female role in Antichrist but she turned it down (if you know anything about the movie then you can guess you why). Then there are movies like Fur, Birth, and Margot at the Wedding that would have never been made or would not have gotten any attention without her.

In the end, it is up to you to decide whether she is just a poster girl for the effects of Botox, someone who got lucky by marrying Tom Cruise, or just someone annoying. However, one can’t deny that she can sometimes be important to many movies, and she likes to take risks. For this reason, she is the best actress of her generation.


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