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The 26 Best Nicole Kidman Movies Ranked

Nicole Kidman has been acting for forty years and has starred in over 70 feature films. Throughout that fantastic and ongoing career, she’s delivered some amazing performances and been in many good and some great movies. On the fortieth anniversary of her entry into feature film acting, I’d like to celebrate some of her best films, lesser-known gems, and fun facts about her illustrious career. Be prepared; this is a subjective list of one of our most unique stars. 

Fun Fact: Panic Room (2002)

Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

You might be shocked to see David Fincher’s Panic Room listed as part of Kidman’s filmography. You never see her face in the movie, and you only hear her voice momentarily as the voice of the lead character, Meg’s ex-husband’s girlfriend. Kidman was originally set to play Meg, but when an injury prevented her from taking on the somewhat physical role, Jodie Foster stepped into the role, so it’s fun that Kidman was still able to be a small part of the movie. 

Not So Honorable Mention: The Paperboy (2012)

Image Credit: Lee Daniels Entertainment, Millennium Films.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Pete Dexter, The Paperboy tells the story of a woman (Kidman) who seeks the help of reporters to prove her beloved’s innocence. It’s a movie with a great cast, including Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, and Zac Efron, based on a well-regarded novel, but it doesn’t quite come together. I’m only mentioning it here because there’s an amusing scene where Kidman pees on Efron after he’s been stung by a jellyfish, and I need more people to know about it. 

Honorable Mention: Lion (2016)

Image Credit: Long Way Home Productions 2015.

Kidman has been the star of most movies she’s been in since 1983, but occasionally she takes on a small supporting role like the one in Lion. The film tells the true story of Saroo Brierley (played by Dev Patel) finding his biological mother in India after he was accidentally separated from her as a child and adopted by Australians, one of whom is played by Kidman. It’s a major tearjerker, especially in its final moments, that will work for anyone with a heart and would land decently high on this list if Kidman’s role were larger. 

1 – The Beguiled (2017)

Image Credit: Focus Features.

The other great movie that Colin Farrell and Kidman worked on together in 2017, The Beguiled is also writer/director Sofia Coppola’s best film. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Thomas P. Cullinan, the film tells the story of a girls boarding school in Virginia during the American Civil War that is forever changed by the arrival of a Union soldier. Kidman plays the headmistress of the school, who, along with several other women and girls in the house, is deeply attracted to the school’s new guest. It’s a film of psychosexual gamesmanship and subterfuge that plays its most salacious aspects with the subtlety befitting the 1800s, but Coppola’s camera ensures every bare shoulder and leg are given their due as objects of desire. That beautiful magic trick of cinematically expressing repressed desire and its inevitable consequences makes The Beguiled the best movie in Kidman’s filmography. 

2 – Birth (2004)

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, like Paddington 2 (a comparison you don’t get to make very often), gets a lot of well-deserved praise, but it sometimes eclipses the brilliance of his previous film BirthBirth centers on a woman (Kidman) who meets a ten-year-old boy who claims to be the reincarnation of her husband, who died ten years earlier. It’s another film in Kidman’s filmography that is like nothing else, and its thorny questions stick with you well after it’s ended. 

3 – Dogville (2003)

Image Credit: Trust Film Sales ApS.

Danish director Lars von Trier’s Dogville is unlike anything else. The film takes place entirely on a soundstage with only a few props and even fewer partial sets, instead allowing chalk outlines of spaces to function as the markers for homes and public spaces. But that Brechtian setting is only part of what makes the film so interesting and memorable. The film centers on the eponymous town of Dogville and what happens to the people there after the arrival of a beautiful young woman on the run from powerful gangsters. It’s a study of human nature from a filmmaker who’s never been accused of being an optimist but also doesn’t exactly wallow in nihilism either. It’s not an easy movie to watch and features several scenes of sexual assault, but it’s worthwhile for anyone looking for something different and thought-provoking. 

4 – The Northman (2022)

Image Credit: Focus Features LLC.

The Northman brings the legend of Amleth, which also serves as the basis for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, to the screen with palpable levels of dirt, blood, and fire. The film follows a prince who runs away from home as a child when his uncle murders his father but finds his way back to his uncle’s land as an adult when he is brought there as a slave. It’s a movie that brings the brutality of the Viking age to the screen (albeit it still pulls some punches) with a story of intrigue that explodes with jaw-dropping action sequences, including a final battle inside a literal volcano. Kidman plays the young prince’s mother, and while she isn’t in the film that much, she has a pivotal scene and monologue towards the end, which is the film's best (non-action) part. 

5 – The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

Image Credit: Curzon Artificial Eye.

Colin Farrell and Kidman had a great 2017 together, between The Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Beguiled (more on that in a moment). The Killing of a Sacred Deer sees a singular director Yorgos Lanthimos tell an otherworldly version of Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis as a horror movie. It’s a wonderfully unique film that follows Farrell’s doctor as he befriends a young man who soon begins threatening the doctor’s family, including his wife, played by Kidman. Like in Lanthimos’ The Lobster, the characters in The Killing of a Sacred Deer speak in strange, overly formal, and often monotone sentences that put you on edge before anything scary even starts happening. Once the scary things start, they’re so haphazard and matter-of-factly portrayed that they’re more funny than scary. 

6 – To Die For (1995)

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures.

To Die For, based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Maynard, is an amazing black comedy about an ambitious woman (Kidman) who wants to be a star and will do everything in her power to do it, including kill. Or rather, manipulate the teenage boys in love with her to kill on her behalf. The film tracks her start from assistant to segment producer and host at a local TV station and her murderous turn when her husband begins to demand more of her time. It’s a movie that rests entirely on Kidman’s shoulders, and she is perfect in it.

7 – The Peacemaker (1997)

Image Credit: Amblin/DreamWorks Pictures

It’s hard to believe when watching The Peacemaker that audiences have largely forgotten it. The film from Deep Impact director Mimi Leder follows a nuclear weapons specialist (Kidman) and Special Forces Colonel (George Clooney) who investigate and attempt to recover a set of stolen nuclear warheads. Leder is a brilliant action director who knows how to choreograph big action setpieces and move the camera in a way that keeps the action clear and exciting at all times. While Kidman and Clooney don’t exactly light up the screen with their chemistry (mostly because his Colonel is a bit of a jerk), it’s delightful to see two movie stars be movie stars in a big-budget action thriller. 

8 – The Others (2001)

Image Credit: StudioCanal.

The Others is a fairly standard ghost story, but it’s so wonderfully executed that it’s become a genre classic. The film centers on a woman (Kidman) and her two children waiting on the return of their husband and father from his post in World War II who begin to hear and see strange things around their large country house. The Others is a victory of atmosphere above all else. It’s a ghost story that pulls you into its spooky world with an ambiguous sense of dread that some horror fans (myself included) may find oddly comforting. 

9 – Flirting (1991)

Image Credit: The Samuel Goldwyn Company.

One of the few films in Kidman’s early career where she plays a supporting role, Flirting centers on a boarding school teen love story between a nerdy boy and a girl only in Australia (where the film takes place) for a limited time. Kidman doesn’t play the girl (instead, we get a lovely early performance from Thandiwe Newton), but she’s essentially the film's third lead as the much-desired and tough-to-please most popular girl at the girls’ boarding school. Flirting is a sweet coming-of-age romance that’s not groundbreaking in any way. Despite its specific setting, it manages to draw out some universal emotions about being young and in love. 

10 – Paddington (2014)

Image Credit: StudioCanal.

Paddington 2 rightly receives a lot of love, but Paddington is often forgotten in that rush to adore its sequel. Just as Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson light up the screen in that film, Nicole Kidman is marvelous as a taxidermist who wants to add the talking Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) to her collection in the first film. Paddington follows the eponymous bear as he journeys from Peru to London and finds a family willing to take him in, leading to all the hijinks that might ensue when a family adopts a talking bear unfamiliar with the amenities of city living and some wonderfully energetic scenes of escape from Kidman’s taxidermist. 

11 – The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

Image Credit: Focus Features.

Jane Campion’s adaptation of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James is perhaps a movie that’s appreciated more than it’s enjoyed. The film tells the story of the young and beautiful Isabel Archer (Kidman), who doesn’t want to tie herself to a man and be forced to meet the expectations of late 19th-century wifedom. When she comes into a large sum of money through an inheritance, her dreams of independence seem to have been realized. But she’s soon seduced by the charming Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich), who becomes much less charming after they are married and he has access to her money. It’s a period film that’s far more visually muted than many period films, forcing the audience to experience Isabel’s confinement at the hands of her husband through overwhelmingly visually similar scenes. But what shines through are the performances from Kidman, Malkovich, and Barbara Hershey as the woman who introduces them. 

12 – Margot at the Wedding (2007)

Image Credit: Paramount Vantage.

Few movie stars are willing to play downright insufferable people, but that’s exactly what Kidman does in Margot at the Wedding. The film centers on the eponymous Margot (Kidman), who travels with her eleven-year-old son to her childhood home, where her sister is getting married. Margot and her sister haven’t talked in years because Margot is, to put it mildly, difficult. She is highly critical of those around her, makes passive-aggressive and aggressive-aggressive comments regularly, and generally thinks she’s better than everyone around her. What’s remarkable about the movie is that writer/director Noah Baumbach makes us care about Margot and the people she’s hurting and keeps things light enough for the movie to work as a laugh-out-loud funny comedy. 

13 – Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Image Credit: Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Some consider Stanley Kubrick’s final film a masterpiece; others haven’t let go of the initial idea that it’s a bloated mess. Personally, I can’t entirely agree with either assessment. Eyes Wide Shut, based on the novella Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler, follows Tom Cruise’s Dr. William Harford on a dreamy journey through New York City, culminating in a visit to a secret society’s orgy. It’s a beautifully shot film with big ideas about loyalty, sex, secrets, power, and more, but as a devoted Kubrick fan, it fails to live up to his best. It’s also hard to consider it a “Nicole Kidman movie” when she’s not in it nearly enough. But she’s so amazing in her few scenes, especially the inciting conversation where she reveals to her husband (Cruise) that she considered having an affair. 

14 – The Hours (2002)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Novelist Michael Cunningham took a major risk when he decided to write The Hours. The book not draws heavily on Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway while also functioning as a sort of remake of that iconic novel and includes Woolf as a character. It paid off for him, and he won the Pulitzer Prize for the novel. Adapting The Hours to screen just seems like a fool’s errand, though, so it’s a miracle that the film adaptation was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won Nicola Kidman her first Oscar for her performance as Woolf. It still suffers from the adaptation, as its story of three women in three different times, each struggling with aspects of their sexuality, mental health, and social lives, is best served by the introspection possible in a book, but as far as “unfilmable” literary adaptations go, this is one of the best. 

15 – Aquaman (2018)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

James Wan holds the record for the highest-grossing entries in both the Fast & Furious and DC Extended Universe franchises, and it’s easy to see why people loved them. Aquaman takes a fairly hard swing away from the serious considerations of godlike power and social responsibility that make up the earlier entries in the franchise to usher in a brightly lit Indiana Jones-inspired adventure movie. But it’s not just the lighter plot, which follows Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) as he must find a MacGuffin and claim his place as the rightful heir of Atlantis, that makes Aquaman so much fun. It’s that the movie leans into its comic book origins with scenes of characters riding sharks with lasers on their heads and an octopus playing the drums. Kidman plays Arthur’s mother and the queen of Atlantis and is the star of an early action scene that shows Wan’s talents as an action filmmaker. 

16 – Stoker (2013)

Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

In the same way that the multiple narratives of Practical Magic sadly deliver a movie that’s less than the sum of its parts, Stoker is less than the sum of its artists’ talents. Starring Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, and Matthew Goode and directed by Park Chan-wook (in his English language debut), it’s disappointing that the film doesn’t meet or surpass the heights of their best work. But it’s also far from bad. The film centers on India (Wasikowska) and her relationship with an uncle (Goode) who moves in with her and her mother (Kidman) after the death of her father. It’s a psychosexual southern gothic tale that looks beautiful courtesy of cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon and is undoubtedly worth your time; just manage your expectations. 

17 – Days of Thunder (1990)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Days of Thunder is the first of three films in which Kidman starred opposite Tom Cruise and the one on the set of which the stars met. Days of Thunder follows a hotshot Nascar driver (Cruise) as he starts his career before sustaining an injury and beginning a romance with his doctor, played by Kidman. The Tony Scott-directed film is full of thrilling Nascar racing sequences, sweet moments of humor between Cruise and Robert Duvall as his crew chief and mentor, and scenes of palpable chemistry between Kidman and her soon-to-be husband. 

18 – Malice (1993)

Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Malice is an erotic thriller that doesn’t quite have enough eroticism but still functions well as a twisty neo-noir. The film centers on married couple Andy (Bill Pullman) and Tracy (Kidman), whose lives are disrupted by the arrival of an old high school classmate of Andy’s, the miracle-working doctor Jed Hill (Alec Baldwin). It’s hard to discuss the film without giving anything away, but suffice it to say that if you need an underappreciated neo-noir, Malice has got you covered. 

19 – Batman Forever (1995)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

In which Kidman plays the iconic Batman character Dr. Chase Meridian. Oh, you haven’t heard of her? That’s because she only exists in this movie, or at least that was the case at the time (since then, she’s been introduced briefly in the comics and the short-lived Gotham Knights TV show). It’s a strange choice to make the main love interest for Batman/Bruce Wayne (played here by Val Kilmer) a new character, but Kidman is clearly having fun playing the psychologist as a vixen with a brilliant mind. The rest of the movie is fun, too, and often unfairly maligned. Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey are undeniably silly as Two-Face/Harvey Dent and The Riddler/Edward Nygma, but they fit perfectly into the world of director Joel Schumacher’s Batman

20 – Destroyer (2018)

Image Credit: Annapurna Pictures.

I’ve written about my love for director Karyn Kusama before. While Destroyer isn’t my favorite film from her, it’s still an enjoyable and visceral crime thriller that shows off Kusama’s talent as an action filmmaker. The film follows Kidman’s LAPD Detective Erin Bell, whose undercover past comes back to haunt her, or is she haunting the people from her past? It’s an exciting movie with a fantastic performance from Kidman and phenomenal action scenes that just doesn’t quite clear the hurdles of its somewhat too familiar script. 

21 – Cold Mountain (2003)

Image Credit: Miramax Films.

Based on the novel of the same name by Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain tells the story of a Confederate deserter as he attempts to return to his home and the woman he loves. But instead of simply focusing on his journey, it also shows what she experiences after he has gone, and the deserter-hunting Home Guard in the town becomes cruel with their power. It’s a beautifully shot movie that leans into its melodrama to create something that feels like it could have been made in Classical Hollywood. Sadly it’s held back significantly because of its treatment of race which highlights the evils of slavery without any significant Black characters. 

22 – BMX Bandits (1983)

Image Credit: Filmways Australasian Distributors.

BMX Bandits stars Kidman in one of her earliest roles as one of three teens who find and claim walkie-talkies that belong to a criminal organization. The teens are chased by the goons in several super fun, if not exactly impressive or breathtaking by today’s standards, BMX chases through Sydney. As the only girl in the group of three, there’s also some humor drawn from the two boys vying for her affection, both with little success. BMX Bandits isn’t a great movie, but it’s worth seeking out for Kidman fans and anyone who wants to have a good time. 

23 – The Stepford Wives (2004)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks Pictures.

Based on Ira Levin’s novel of the same name, The Stepford Wives tells the story of a woman who grows suspicious when all the other women in her new hometown act like subservient automatons. Unlike the book and the first movie based on it, which are both serious thrillers, Frank Oz’s 2004 version is a brightly lit and multi-colored dark comedy that’s far more silly than scary. Kidman plays the central role and is clearly having a great time in this broad comedy with an edge. 

24 – Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Another cult classic in Kidman’s career just three years after Practical MagicMoulin Rouge! is a movie I appreciate and enjoy in certain scenes but can’t entirely get on board with. The jukebox musical’s story of a poet who falls in love with a cabaret actress while they work on a play together is told with so much frantic energy that it’s difficult to catch your breath. That’s part of what makes it so unique and beloved by many, but it leaves me behind in many sequences. But when it works, it works brilliantly, as in the first musical number with Kidman and Ewan McGregor and the tango rendition of The Police’s “Roxanne” around the film’s midpoint, securing it a spot on this list. It’s also the film that garnered Kidman her first Oscar nomination. 

25 – Practical Magic (1998)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Practical Magic is a cult classic that feels, to me, like less than the sum of its parts. Based on the novel of the same name by Alice Hoffman, Practical

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The 26 Best Nicole Kidman Movies Ranked


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