Nicole Kidman’s Best Performances From Moulin Rouge To Big Little Lies

Nicole KidmanThe ability to tackle any role that comes her way is a testament to her legacy as a Hollywood star. Before gaining worldwide recognition, Kidman started out in small projects in Australia and was encouraged by Jeanne Campion to keep up with the good work. Although fame came after his relationship with Tom CruiseKidman made sure to show that her talent was all she needed to keep the “Mrs. Cruise” title from taking center stage. To date, the actor and producer has won an Oscar, two Emmys, six Golden Globes and a BAFTA.

To play a courtesan in the Baz Luhrmann musical to more recently embody the iconic Lucille Ball in Be the Ricardoshere are nine Nicole Kidman roles that are worth all the notoriety they can get.

RELATED: Watch Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor Share Sweet ‘Moulin Rouge’ Memories

1. Alice Harford– Eyes wide closed (1999)


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Image via Warner Bros.

Below Stanley KubrickUnder Kidman’s brilliant direction, Kidman was paired with her estranged husband in this psychological tale centered around a complex couple. She plays Alice Harford, a beautiful woman who indulges in extramarital fantasies despite never indulging in them in real life. Once she reveals this to her husband, Dr. Bill Harford (Cruise), he becomes haunted by the idea that his wife is cheating on him, so much so that he is drawn to multiple situations that hint at infidelity. Even though Kidman’s role gets less screen time than his counterpart, his powerful gaze and shocking reveal is what drives the entire movie. Not to mention how she delivers the last line!

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2. Satin – red Mill (2001)


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Image via 20th Century Fox

A star destined for a tragic fate; Satine is still one of Kidman’s main accolades. The actor’s ability to show both confidence on a cabaret stage while singing “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” and the fragility of dying from a terminal illness are what make this performance stands out. There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing Satine and Christian (Ewan McGregor) sings “Come What May” in an over-the-top stage number that sounds triumphant but turns devastating. No wonder this was Kidman’s first role to earn an Oscar nomination.

3. Grace – Others (2001)


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Image via StudioCanal

Others came out the same year as red Mill. Despite the difference in tone and genre, both films featured incredible performances from Kidman. In this psychological thriller, Kidman plays a religious single mother of two, who decides to move to a remote mansion she lived in when she was younger. As Grace awaits her husband’s return from the war, she tries to care for her children and protect them from the horrors that come with the arrival of three mysterious minions. Seeing the actor immerse himself in a haunting discovery at the end has viewers guessing at the spellbinding twist.


4. Virginia Woolf – Hours (2002)


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Image via Paramount Pictures

Playing real people has happened more than once during Kidman’s career, but all eyes turned to her when she played the late Virginia Woolf in Hours. Although the costume and makeup helped her get into character (especially the prosthetic nose), Kidman truly blew audiences away by imbuing Woolf’s journey with mental illness and her affability while writing. Even though the actor was joined by powers Meryl Streep and Julianne Mooreher performance stands out and won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2003.

5. Beca- rabbit hole (2010)


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Image via Lionsgate

It’s no secret that Kidman is drawn to meaty roles that often touch on different facets of grief and trauma. In this case, she plays Becca, a woman trying to recover after her son is killed in an accident. Like Becca and her husband Howie (aaron eckart) navigating their crumbling relationship given their divergent ways of copying with grief, it’s evident that Kidman’s character is incredibly repressed by the loss of his son. She constantly has tears streaming down her face and cannot go about her daily activities without being distracted. Although the film was low-budget, the stellar portrayal led to nominations for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Critics Choice Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award.


6. Sue Brierly– Lion (2016)


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Image via The Weinstein Society

For someone to step into a supporting role and use the few times he appears on screen with impact is no easy task. Still, Kidman warmed hearts as Saroo’s Australian adoptive mother (Dev Patel), an Indian boy who accidentally gets lost on a train heading to Calcutta. Raising her with love and devotion, viewers can’t help but empathize with her character as you see her interact with Saroo throughout her coming-of-age journey. Although she understands her urge to understand the shortcomings of what has happened to her family since the train incident, Sue feels upset that she will never be seen as her rightful mother.

7. Anna Murphy– The Killing of the Sacred Deer (2017)


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Picture via A24

If you haven’t seen a Yorgos Lanthimos production before, let me warn you that his films follow a unique style that may or may not surprise you. The Killing of the Sacred Deer is a perfect example. The story centers on Dr. Stephen Murphy (Colin Farrel) and his family, who are haunted by the son of a former patient who died during surgery led by Murphy. Once the teenager’s intention is revealed, Murphy and his family must fight for their lives. Kidman plays Murphy’s wife, who constantly tries to keep her cool as she’s on the verge of madness when she realizes her entire family is in danger.


8. Celestial Wright – big little lies (2017-2019)


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Kidman has been involved in a few television projects, but none like big little lies. She plays Celeste, a stay-at-home mom who hides an abusive relationship with her husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgard). From the outside, it looks like Celeste’s family is perfect when in reality, it’s far from ideal. The more you learn about what’s going on inside their home, especially when she tries to confront Perry, the more you want her to get away from him. Celeste’s journey of acknowledging that she’s in an abusive relationship and needs to make the move for herself and her children is one of the show’s most powerful character developments.

9. Lucille Ball – Be the Ricardos (2021)


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Picture via Amazon Studios

Another biopic to make the list, Kidman’s most recent film focuses on one of America’s iconic celebrity couples: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem). Although the actor has played well-known characters like Virginia Woolf and Grace Kelly before, tackling Lucille Ball in a believable way is another standout achievement on his part. Kidman’s Lucille is funny when the cameras are rolling, but a visionary aiming for perfection when they’re not. Seeing her struggle when dealing with TV executives, political scandal, and the ever-present sense that her husband isn’t as attached to her as he once was is what makes the role a perfect fit for Kidman. This role shows Kidman’s range and proves to everyone that she is getting better with every new opportunity.


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