Becca, ‘Rabbit Hole’ (2010)
Kidman’s heart-wrenching and tearful performance as a mother who grapples with the accidental death of her son at the hands of a young driver (played by Miles Teller) is an emotional journey through the grieving process – from making new friends post-tragedy, dealing with therapy groups to attempting a new normalcy for the family and learning to find comfort in unexpected places. Restrained when it needs to be and emotionally shattering at other times, Kidman’s sad drama earned her another Oscar nomination.
Satine, ‘Moulin Rouge!’ (2001)
A dizzying musical mash-up of 19th century Paris and 20th century music is at once romantic, loud, brash and complex that under director Baz Luhrmann somehow managing to hit the right notes. As one-half of a pair of star-crossed lovers, Kidman’s sensual and at times comedic Satine effortlessly makes the audience fall in love with her, just as Ewan McGregor’s Christian does on screen. Plus, the movie allowed Kidman to showcase one of her hidden talents: she can actually sing.
Rae, 'Dead Calm' (1989)
It’s the role that launched her international career and led to her casting in 1990’s “Days Of Thunder”. Starring opposite Sam Neill as one-half of a couple who after sequestering themselves at sea after a family tragedy come across a stranger (Billy Zane) and his sinking ship. In the tense and tightly-paced thriller, Kidman is able to convey so much on-screen as a young actress as her character transitions from dependent and dutiful wife into a strong and resourceful woman.
Suzanne Stone, ‘To Die For’ (1995)
Fame-hungry weather girl Suzanne Stone is Nicole at her nastiest. In a pre-social media world, the ego-driven and ruthless Suzanne will stop at nothing to get more than her 15 minutes of fame, even if it means getting her obsessive teenage fan club (including Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck) to kill her dull husband. Kidman balances the nuances of the character, expertly pulling off the film’s sharp satire moments and looking like she’s having a total blast through it all.
Anna, ‘Birth’ (2004)
Jonathan Glazer (“Under The Skin”) directs Kidman as an upper class New Yorker who meets a young boy named Sean who claims to be the reincarnation of her dead husband. At times unsettling and unconfutable, “Birth” is a bold story that hinges on Kidman’s Anna and her belief of the impossible. With her close-cropped hair, the focus on Kidman’s face as she conveys a remarkable range of emotions is breathtaking. It’s a daring role for the actress as she plays a woman who not only deals with anger and grief, but also complicated thoughts of sexual attraction as she remembers her late husband.
Grace Stewart, ‘The Others’ (2001)
While “Moulin Rouge!” was flashy and over-the-top, Kidman’s other 2001 performance in “The Others” was everything her Satine was not. Moody, moving and at times terrifying, Kidman is utterly convincing in her role as a woman in a remote country manor who believes her house is haunted in this period thriller. This is the closest Kidman gets to playing a Hitchcock muse.
Grace, ‘Dogville’ (2003)
Famed Danish director Lars von Trier’s “Dogville” isn’t for everyone. The unconventional and minimalist art film is set on an empty soundstage like a filmed theatre piece, Kidman is at the centre of an all-star cast as Grace, a stranger in a small town who claims she’s on the run from the mob. With no scenery or well, anything else to look at, the camera focuses on Kidman’s face in close-ups, her facial expressions adding a deep emotional element to the story.
Alice Harford, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ (1999)
The third and final on-screen pairing of Kidman and then-husband Tom Cruise (they divorced in 2001) was the infamously long production of “Eyes Wide Shut”. With a shooting schedule that ran over 400 days, director Stanley Kubrick, who died four days after delivering a final cut to the studio, was notoriously secretive in the way he directed the couple, forbidding them to share notes and pitting them against one another to create palpable tension on and off the screen. For Kidman, the role was a transformative one, not only teasing fans with a voyeuristic glimpse into her marriage but shows her character venturing into an erotic, sexual odyssey – something completely different for the actress.
Evelyn Stoker, ‘Stoker’ (2013)
Criminally-underrated and under-seen, the Gothic drama “Stoker” sets up an intense female rivalry between Kidman’s Evelyn Stoker and her daughter India (Mia Wasikowska). Here, the actress is at once malevolent and motherly as she balances finding affection for her daughter - whom her late husband loved - and vying for the attention of her handsome brother-in-law. As the wicked mother, Kidman gets to deliver one of her most-powerful monologues in her career, telling her on-screen daughter how she “can’t wait to watch life tear you apart.”
Virginia Woolf, ‘The Hours’ (2002)
Kidman’s transformative performance in 2002’s “The Hours” earned the actress an Oscar for her portrayal of writer Virginia Woolf. The Aussie beauty disappears behind a prosthetic nose to become the famed writer in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about women whose lives are inextricably linked to Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. In a movie that is filled to the brim with excellent performances from Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Toni Collette, Kidman stands out by a nose.