In today’s The Toast, we pay tribute to 2022 Oscar-nominated actress, Nicole Kidman. The Oscars are one month from today, and the world can’t wait to see if Nicole Kidman will win her second golden statuette for her powerhouse performance in Being the Ricardos (2021).
Like a feather, she glides onto the screen. She’s tall, porcelain-skinned, and endowed with unfathomable blue eyes that seem to hold the world in their entirety. Yes, Nicole Kidman is that modern Hollywood enigma who we all helplessly love and respect – if only we could grasp her. But many an astute film critic and cinephile would state that Kidman is, after all, what great art is all about. It’s intangibly inspirational, mystical, and at times, downright lovely.
Born in tropical Hawaii, USA, on June 20, 1967, and raised in Sydney, Australia, by her Australian parents, Nicole Kidman was otherworldly from the start. Yes, grab your telescopes because this future Hollywood star was given a second, Hawaiian name, Hokulani, at birth – which means “heavenly star.” Amazing. Nicole Kidman was on her Hollywood way from day #1.
Her breakout role came in 1989’s menacing oceanic thriller Dead Calm, co-starring talented Sam Neill and Billy Zane. A successful Australian flick, it paved the way for Kidman’s crossover Hollywood success with movies Days of Thunder (1990) and Far and Away (1992), both of which co-starred megastar Tom Cruise. The two met and started dating on-set at the first movie, and were a married couple on-set for the second movie (though they would later divorce in 2001).
Kidman’s Rise to Stardom
The 1990s were good for Kidman – she demonstrated awe-inspiring versatility, acting in such diverse films as superhero blockbuster Batman Forever (1995), then black comedy To Die For (1995), and supernatural rom-com Practical Magic (1998). She also wowed audiences in the period drama The Portrait of a Lady (1996) and the action flick The Peacemaker (1997).
But not one to rest on her brilliant acting laurels, we all know the heights Kidman reached in the early 2000s. Kidman took off in high-art and high-fashion! Anyone who was around during those heady Y2K days bore witness to the truly magical acting “enigma” that Nicole Kidman became. But if in need of a refresher, cue the glitzy, vibrant Moulin Rouge! (2001), the wonderfully dour The Hours (2002) which earned Kidman her one Oscar, and sweet flicks like The Stepford Wives (2004) and Bewitched (2005).
Kidman’s old-school dance card (aka acting card) was awesomely filled. What to watch on a Saturday night? It seemed like the DVD/Blu-ray universe was inhabited predominantly by that beautiful, entrancing Hokulani – that “heavenly star”. What’s more, the film world is still in love with Nicole Kidman. She’s up for an Oscar here in 2022, for her role as iconic TV comedienne Lucille Ball in the biopic Being the Ricardos (2021).
Kidman shines in every role, and her ability to bring depth, mystery, and fierceness to each of her characters always leaves us enthralled and wanting more. Why stop at playing the evil villainess in 2007’s fantastical The Golden Compass or the hard-nosed district attorney in 2015’s Secret in Their Eyes crime drama? No, Kidman has shown time and time again her bravery in film choices. She’s even branched out into HBO television with the wildly successful show Big Little Lies back in 2017.
Two-Time Oscar Winner?
We don’t know what Oscars night will hold for the luminous Nicole Kidman. Will she walk away a two-time Oscar winner? But what we do know is that her talent will continue to bloom, glow brighter, and confirm for us that acting is truly a gift. Nicole Kidman has masterfully shown us the human condition time and time again, and at the end of the day (aka the end of the movie), we are all the better for it.
So, in honor of the 2022 Oscar-nominated megastar Nicole Kidman, here are six of her must-see films. They showcase her amazing acting range, genre versatility, and her plain old-fashioned “bright lights” entertainment value. Which movies made the cut? It was not an easy selection! And a healthy debate is always fun. Enjoy!
6 Essential Nicole Kidman Films
1. To Die For (1995)
Nicole Kidman rocks as the diabolical smalltown “TV weather girl” Suzanne Stone in this truly sinister dark humor flick. Co-starring recent Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix of Joker fame (2019), To Die For will forever leave viewers suspicious of blonde so-called “ladies” dressed in a pink suit. But on a deeper level, what’s this movie saying about society’s obsession with fame and superficial success? Quite a lot actually. Which makes this a Nicole Kidman must-see. She hits all the right notes, and successfully lures us into her dark world while simultaneously repelling us. Noteworthy Suzanne Stone line – “On TV is where we learn about who we really are. Shiver.
2. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Drumroll! It wasn’t only directed by one of the greatest directors to walk the planet, it was also his final film. Yes, enter Stanley Kubrick. The director who brought us otherworldly treasures like A Clockwork Orange (1971) brings forth another dark, psychological tale – this time set in present-day New York City. Starring Nicole Kidman alongside her real-life hubby Tom Cruise, this flick might not be as mainstream-innocuous as previous Kidman-Cruise pairings like Days of Thunder (1990) and Far and Away (1992), but it’s certainly intriguing. It takes us down the complex path of marriage, love, and what it all means. Draped in figurative code and literal masks, dare we peek behind the exterior? Watch if you’re brave. Have a comfort companion to help you through it. Think favorite food, beverage, loved one, pet, etc. Eyes Wide Shut is pure Kubrick. It’s DEEP in capital letters.
3. Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Coming up for air from the depths of marital shadows in Eyes Wide Shut, Moulin Rouge! is a colorful, musical, magical flying-trapeze of a flick. Nicole Kidman sings? No way! We love Kidman as Satine, the glamorous cabaret starlet and courtesan circa turn-of-the-century Paris (year 1900). She’s just so exuberant, multi-faceted, and memorable. And her love affair with broodingly beautiful young writer Christian (played by Ewan McGregor) is the “stuff of legend.” Directed by fellow Aussie, Baz Luhrmann, known for his inventive, creative flair, Moulin Rouge is a modern, millennial take on the musical genre. Some are fans of Luhrmann’s unique style, and others not. But no one can deny his ability to up the game and keep us absolutely enthralled. Who doesn’t love that iconic windmill and glittery elephant?
4. The Others (2001)
Call it a supernatural gothic thriller, or call it a straight-up horror flick, The Others has one of the best surprise horror endings this “The Toast” has ever seen. Nicole Kidman courageously helms this veritable “ghost ship” where nothing is quite what it seems. Yes, as a horror movie watcher we’re paradoxically expecting the unexpected. But, The Others truly turns the “surprise ending” on its head, and it’s no doubt thanks to Kidman’s ability to set the scene, create the arc, and pull that foggy, shadowy, dusty, old rug out from underneath us. Her character is a woman living on a remote, countryside estate in the 1940s with her two children who are allergic to the sun and bright light (in itself extremely spooky), and things increasingly get out of hand. The Others is a polished gem – a fierce, sharp diamond in Kidman’s illustrious filmography.
5. The Hours (2002)
Cue Nicole Kidman’s Oscar. Kidman is absolutely brilliant as legendary, troubled real-life writer Virginia Woolf. Co-starring fellow powerhouse actresses Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore, here’s a complex drama that toggles between various times and story lines that are all ultimately connected. Like the titular “hours,” this flick masterfully conveys those dreadful, melancholic, hesitant vibes in the human life story that would drown us if they could, and leave us petrified in hopelessness. And yet, amid those hours is also love and affection. Think a bouquet of flowers and a placid stream. The most uplifting of Kidman performances? No, but arguably her best.
6. Australia (2008)
Sentimentality rules on this pick. How can this list not include a bevy of Aussie cinema treasures, including of course Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, and finally, a second showing of that daring Aussie director Baz Luhrmann? It’s an epic World War II story set in Australia, and bearing all those awesome Baz Luhrmann hallmarks. Think exuberant visual effects, larger-than-life characters, and a grand “wisp o’ magic”. Want to learn about Australia’s colonization, race relations, and one woman’s struggle to adapt and find a home and love in this dry, mythical land? It’s all here, at least in that lovely historical “fiction” movie sense.
Kidman is Lady Sarah Ashley, an English transplant who finds herself traveling to this magical new world filled with kangaroos, palm trees, and a whole lotta cattle. Inspirational? Definitely. Noteworthy Lady Sarah Ashley song Over the Rainbow. And that’s where audiences are when watching the luminous, spell-binding, singular Nicole Kidman.
Good luck to her on Oscars night.
I'm a published poet, travel writer, and "vintage" pop culture blogger. I love movies, and especially those dusty old classics. I "heart" the rich history of film.