15 Unforgettable Nicole Kidman Roles

Nicole Kidman is one of those actresses who is as comfortable in big-budget blockbusters as she is in indie films. She has kept audiences hooked with her character-driven performances and work ethic.

On April 27, 2024, she received the 49th AFI Life Achievement Award for her career that spanned over three decades.

To commemorate that, we have reviewed online reviews and public forum discussions to create a list of Kidman’s best TV and film performances. We have arranged the list in order of descending Rotten Tomatoes ratings.

Nicola Radcliffe – Flirting (1991)

Image Credit: IMDB

The coming-of-age Australian comedy drama “Flirting” was one of the earliest performances of Nicole Kidman’s career. Set in 1965, the film is about Danny, an underdeveloped 17-year-old. Kidman played the role of Nicola Radcliffe, the strict and snobbish school prefect. The film received various AFI awards, and although Kidman didn’t bag any, her supporting performance was applauded by reviewers.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Queen Gudrun – The Northman (2022)

Image Credit: IMDB

In much of Robert Eggers’ The Northman, his take on Hamlet concerns violence and vengeance. Nicole Kidman delivers an understated performance as Queen Gudrun. However, the revenge thriller shines when Kidman delivers an unexpected monologue. It is a sharp dialogue with a sharper delivery, which redeems the entire movie.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Celeste Wright – Big Little Lies (2017-2019)

Image Credit: IMDB Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle – © 2017 – HBO

Kidman proved her worth away from the silver screen via the HBO miniseries Big Little Lies. Starring as Celeste Wright, Kidman portrayed a rich woman battling domestic abuse. She added new depths to her acting skills as Celeste contemplated leaving her husband. Her performance in the show earned her widespread applause, along with 2 Golden Globes and 2 Primetime Emmy awards.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

Suzanne Stone Maretto – To Die For (1995)

Image Credit: IMDB

Kidman proved her versatility in the satirical To Die For as the superficial Suzanne. Following action films and thrillers, Kidman delivered a fine performance in what was probably her most layered character. Suzanne is a savage and self-aware character who is both ruthless and amiable. Her portrayal of Suzanne earned her the first Golden Globe.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Becca – Rabbit Hole (2010)

Image Credit: IMDB Photo by JOJO WHILDEN – © 2010 – Lionsgate

The 2010 family drama is about a couple whose marriage started to unravel with the death of their son. The film worked largely because of Nicole Kidman’s stellar performance as the grieving mother, Becca. Her outbursts and sudden emotional changes felt believable because of Kidman’s brilliance on screen. The performance earned Kidman her 3rd Academy Awards nomination in the Best Actress category.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

Rae Ingram – Dead Calm (1989)

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In another story about a grieving couple who lost their child, Kidman delivered one of her best performances at 19. The 1989 thriller about a couple voyaging along the Pacific Ocean saw Kidman’s Rae come back to life following the tragedy in her life. A psychotic survivor menaced her character in that voyage, yet Nicole Kidman comfortably held her own.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

Sue Brierley – Lion (2016)

Image Credit: IMDB © Long Way Home Productions 2015

In the internationally acclaimed Lion, Nicole Kidman played the role of an adoptive mother of an Indian man. As Sue Brierley, she showcases complex emotions that break your heart. Her love and support for her adopted son as he searches for his family in India earned her the sole Academy Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 2017.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

Margaret – Expats (2023)

Image Credit: IMDB Photo by Jupiter Wong – © Amazon Content Services LLC

Lulu Wang’s original series, Expats, saw Nicole Kidman play the role of an American mother living in Hong Kong. She has lost her child and is always in two minds about her next step. Kidman channeled her film star aura to navigate everyday scenes with utmost perfection, while putting out a telling performance in scenes that required overwhelming emotions.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

Julia – Top Of The Lake: China Girl (2017)

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

In a story that comprises of twists and turns, Kidman plays the role of Julia, an adoptive mother who feels far away from her daughter. Her acting prowess renders Julia into a selfish and passive mother. Her character’s stature declines over the course of six episodes, yet it leaves a mark. Kidman’s role as the powerless parent feels urgent and honest.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Virginia Woolf – The Hours (2002)

Image Credit: IMDB © 2002 – Paramount Pictures

Kidman won her sole Academy Award for the portrayal of Virginia Woolf in Stephen Daldry’s The Hours. She transformed herself to play the historical figure and famously used a prosthetic nose for it. The chilling performance as Kidman played a Woolf who fought against all odds has garnered praise over the years. It also helped Kidman win the Oscars for Best Actress in 2003.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%

Anna Murphy – The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (2017)

Image Credit: IMDB

In Yorgos Lanthimos’ psychological horror thriller, Nicole Kidman plays the role of Anna Murphy, a shrewd and selfish parent cum wife. She is complicated and unsympathetic. She can even let her child die to keep herself alive. It is a bone-chilling performance that kept getting crazier as the film unraveled.

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Alice Harford – Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Image Credit: IMDB

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, Nicole Kidman showed various facets of her acting repertoire in Eyes Wide Shut. Her portrayal of Alice Harford was realistic. She immersed herself into the character of a housewife exploring her insecurities and desires. The psychological drama was Kubrick’s final film whose legacy Kidman enhanced with her complex characterization of Alice.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%

Satine – Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

In what is possibly the peak of her acting career, Nicole Kidman defied all odds in Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Moulin Rouge!’ She perfected the portrayal of Satine, a fragile yet determined courtesan. Her command of the screen in the musical romance drama was lauded worldwide. It earned Kidman her first ever Oscar nomination for Best Actress in 2002.

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

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