Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Top 5 Kate Winslet Performances

What else can be said about Kate Winslet? She's beautiful, she's one of the finest actors in the world, the youngest person ever to gather six Academy Award nominations and if there is anyone currently working who can be compared to the great Meryl Streep, it is Kate. My minor obsession with Kate was rekindled when I recently watched Contagion, a role which was easily the 'best in show'. She is also set to star in Roman Polanski's upcoming drama, Carnage. For the LAMB Acting School 101 I thought I would give a quick overview of her career and list her five greatest performances. 

She was just 19 years of age when she received critical acclaim for her superb performance in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures (1994). A year later she received an Academy Award nomination for Sense and Sensibility and another one in 1997 for Titanic. Remarkably, and I only realised this the other day, she was just 22 years-old in Titanic. I have only seen the film once in it's entirety, at the cinema in 1997 when I was nine, and I didn't take any notice of how good she was. Only a few sequences stick out in my mind - she got naked on one occasion. Anyway, she was nominated for an Oscar for the role and from what I have seen of the film on television repeats, she is very good. As is Leo. But out of fairness for this list, I'm going to leave that role as an honourable mention.

Kate continued to receive praise and awards nominations for Quills, Enigma and Iris (2000-2001) before starring in the critically panned The Life of David Gale alongside Kevin Spacey. I'm wary of revisiting this film, because I remember thinking it wasn't bad back in 2003. The cast probably had something to do with it. Next came Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where she was spectacular and Finding Neverland where she was perfectly cast alongside a charming, likeable and subtle performance from Johnny Depp.

Next came a couple of bombs, which I have never seen - Romance and Cigarettes and All the King's Men - before another Oscar nomination for Little Children (2005) and a double Golden Globe nomination in 2008 for The Reader and Revolutionary Road. In a strange twist, her supporting nomination for The Reader became a lead nomination at the 2008 Academy Awards. As many expected, she won. She was ignored for Revolutionary Road, which is arguably an equally impressive performance. Still, after six nominations, it really was her time.

Just as I was praising her performance in Contagion to a friend the other day, he informed me that her work in the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce, for which she won a Primetime Emmy, was the best in her career. Trying to image how good that would be, I feel compelled to watch it now. So, while I have missed a few of Kate Winslet's films over the years, only just catching up with a couple of her performances, here are my five best:

Honourable Mentions: Dr Erin Mears - Contagion, Rose DeWitt Bukater - Titanic

5. Juliette Hulme - Heavenly Creatures

4. Sarah Pierce - Little Children

3. Hanna Schmitz - The Reader

2. April Wheeler - Revolutionary Road

1. Clementine Kruczynski - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

What are your thoughts? What performances would you rank amongst her best?


  1. Be still my beating heart. Arguably the best actress of her generation but definitely my favourite, beginning with Heavenly Creatures. I'm not a huge fan of Peter Jackson but god bless the man for casting her in that film.

    Her first Oscar nom in Sense and Sensibility is a fave of mine, too. Gotta love a good Austen/Lee/Thompson combo.

    And while so many "overdue" actors win their Oscars for not so great roles, either of Kate's 2008 performances (The Reader and Revolutionary Road) were worthy of the win.

    Have to disagree about Finding Neverland, a film where her talents were wasted. Here's hoping she and Depp get to rectify that in the future.

    I've had Mildred Pierce for a while now but have only watched the first two eps. Must get on to that.

    And I'm looking forward to seeing Titanic on the big screen again next year, not for the 3D but for Kate, the best thing in that film (although the sinking is quite impressive too).

  2. You can't go wrong with a Kate Top 5 because Kate herself rarely ever goes wrong. So glad to see you like "The Reader" too.

    "Romance & Cigarettes" is insane and maybe not technically "good" but I enjoyed it. "Hideous Kinky" is my favorite of hers but that movie is really difficult to find these days.

  3. Some I have not seen but The Reader was definitely a very deep and nuanced performance. She is one of the most expressive leading lady around.

  4. Yay for Clementine! Her Oscar should have come four years sooner.

    Dude you gotta check out Holy Smoke, the in between of her Heavenly Creatures gamine and the full blooded woman child of Eternal Sunshine. She also does so much in her little role in Contagion, although I like her and I'm biased like that.

  5. I agree, The Life of David Gale was bad. That was just flat-out terrible with one of the worst endings ever and Kate's character was made to look like an idiot.

    That's not the worst film she's been in. I dare you to watch A Kid in King Arthur's Court with Daniel Craig in a bad haircut.

  6. I love Little Children! I mean, it's far from the best film I've ever seen but I think the story is really compelling. I find the story of Ronnie to be quite touching actually. ... I get that he's a paedophile but it's still a really moving story. Also I think Jackie Earle Haley is super-underrated .. LC, Watchmen, Shutter Island! GREAT characters. I guess he doesn't get the attention because he doesn't really 'look the part'. But neither do William H Macy or Philip Seymour Hoffman but they are on everyone's radar.

  7. Great list Andy! I've managed to see all of your top seven except for Heavenly Creatures. And while I loved Eternal Sunshine, I'd have to say that Revolutionary Road is probably my favorite Winslet performance. So much intensity!

  8. Can't argue with Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, it's really her best IMO. Haven't seen either The Reader or Revolutionary Road, I have heard mixed opinions about both. What should I do? :D

  9. YAY for choosing Revolutionary Road over The Reader! Well, I have nothing against The Reader, but I just loved her in Revolutionary Road. But yeah, her best performance is definitely in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I love her in Heavenly Creatures too.

    I thought I had watched way more Kate Winslet films than I actually have, which is a shame. I was going to do something like this but I can't! Oh well, I'll think of something else to do.

  10. @ Dwayne - I love The Lord of the Rings, but King Kong and The Lovely Bones were forgettable. I'm intrigued by Bad taste and Braindead by Jackson now. While I remember feeling sour about her win for The Reader, I have now become appreciative of her victory - with those two performances in the same year she deserved to win a major award. I don't really remember Titanic, but I have balked at the thought of seeing it in 3D, even though Kate stars. I am immersed in Breaking Bad right now (embarrassingly late) but when I finish I'll seek out Mildred Pierce.

    @ Nick - I saw your list @ Anomalous Material. I actually haven't seen that many of her films, hence deciding not to do a 'Top 10'. But if I get the opp. to see Coffee and Cigarettes and Hideous Kinky, I will certainly give them a go. I am intrigued.

    @ Dhiraj - For sure. Her performance stood out in what I thought was only an average film. I favoured Revolutionary Road, which is usually why I credit her performance more.

    @ Paolo - Dude, I loved her in Contagion. Superb. I will endeavour to check out Holy Smoke. I agree, I thought she should have won for Eternal Sunshine. Such an array of identities and emotions. Finding Neverland, though flawed, was one I also enjoyed. She was excellent.

    @ Steven - I saw your list. I'm scared to watch A Kid in Arthurs Court - I don't want to see her in a bad performance. When I watched The Life of David Gale it was a time when any twist ending would do. I'm ashamed to admit that it was 2003 - not so long ago :-p

  11. @ Anna - Definitely. I liked Little Children a lot. Ronnie's story is indeed compelling and emotionally tragic. Jackie Earl Haley deserved his supporting nomination for Little Children and he was 'perfect' as Roschach in Watchmen. Still, Winslet is equally memorable and probably the film (perhaps second to Eternal Sunshine) where I found her the most sexy.

    @ NeverTooEarly - I have no objections to selecting Revolutionary Road at #1. It is so intense. I have this soft spot for Clem (meaning I fell in love with her just as Joel did) that I can't go past it!

    @ Castor - They are both worth a look, but I personally prefer Revolutionary Road. I think it is a more affecting film, and it also features Michael Shannon in a great scene-stealing performances...

    @ Stevee - I hadn't seen enough to create a Top 10. Actually, watching Heavenly Creatures made it 11 films of hers I had seen. Stuck with the Top 5 haha. Shame you couldn't create a similar list.

  12. I seem to be in the minority, but I feel like The Reader was one of her least interesting performances. It was a movie that thought it was saying a lot more than it was. That said, I'm a huge Winslet fan and agree with most of your list. Her roles in Heavenly Creatures and Eternal Sunshine should definitely be on there. Nice job.

  13. She is a fantastic actress! I can't decide in which movie she was better: Revolutionary Road or The Reader, both beautiful performances in their own way!

  14. Thumbs up for picking her role in Eternal Sunshine! I liked The Reader and Heavenly Creatures too.

  15. I'm doing a special post for Kate as well this weekend, so I'll come back and compare notes. I don't want to see your list as I don't want to be swayed :D

  16. @ Dan - I was initially a disappointed by her role in The Reader and didn't think much of the film at all. But I have since changed my opinion of her performance, and though I prefer Revolutionary Road, I can't be unhappy with her claiming an Oscar for The Reader. The fact it was nominated for Best Picture, and not The Wrestler, In Bruges or WALL E irks me more haha.

    @ Aziza - Absolutely. I love her too. She rarely gives a bad performance (from what I have seen, anyway). You should see Contagion - great film.

    @ Stephanie - Thanks. Yeah, it's a personal favourite, and her personality changes just as much as her hair. So much range and emotion present in that performance. I fell in love with her - just as Joel and Patrick did.

    @ Ruth - Look forward to it :-)