Film critics have labelled Nicole Kidman one of Hollywood’s most unfairly underrated actresses and criticised “snarky” gossip articles about her personal life after a Variety poll highlighted the depth of her “heavyweight” career.
Fans decided the Australian actor’s wild turn as a murderously ambitious TV presenter in the darkly comic 1995 film To Die For was her finest performance.
Speaking to The New Daily, veteran movie critic Margaret Pomeranz said: “You only have to look at [TV series] Big Little Lies to realise just how splendid she can be.”
While Kidman has fronted some big budget flops, including Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, sci-fi remake The Invasion and Philip Pullman’s adaptation of The Golden Compass, the first part in an aborted trilogy, Pomeranz argues the breadth and depth of her career is commendable, as is Kidman’s commitment to Australian films like Garth Davis’s box-office smash Lion.
“The fact that she has established such a solid international career and yet is willing to come back here to contribute to the Australian film industry speaks volumes for her loyalty to her beginnings in this country,” Pomeranz added.
Frustrated by ravenous tabloid scrutiny over the health of Kidman’s marriage to singer Keith Urban and brutal dissection of her divorce from Scientology acolyte Tom Cruise, Variety critic Guy Lodge launched the so called Kidman World Cup poll in an effort to highlight her considerable talent and versatility.
He argued that for such an accomplished actress, Kidman was subjected to far “snarkier commentary” than contemporaries and compatriots such as Cate Blanchett.
Functioning like the Soccer World Cup, Lodge divided Kidman’s films into group stages and asked Twitter-users to vote for their favourites, with the top two movies in each stage progressing towards the grand final.
Ultimate winner To Die For, which scored Kidman a Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy or musical, made it through Group A with 59 per cent of the vote.
To Die For faced down Luhrmann’s bronze medal-winner Moulin Rouge in the first semi-final, narrowly beating it by only 2 per cent. Kidman’s role as a grieving widow possibly haunted by her husband reincarnated as a young boy in Jonathan Glazer’s slow-burn supernatural mystery Birth was the clear leader of Group B, securing 69 per cent of the vote.
Though it scored Kidman her only Oscar to date, Stephen Daldry’s Virginia Woolf biopic The Hours stalled at the quarterfinals.
Birth tussled with similarly themed spookster The Others in the second semi-final before ultimately losing out to To Die For’s 52 per cent share in the grand final.
Pomeranz agrees with Lodge that Kidman deserves much more credit for her achievements. Both critics also agreed that they would have voted for Kidman’s Birth to win.
“It’s a stunning, moving portrayal of confused grief,” she said. “I will never forget that shot of her at the end in her wedding dress in the ocean. Nicole really took it elsewhere in Gus Van Sant’s To Die For and she’s forged an independent career ever since.”
Lodge noted in Variety: “Whatever your preference, what started out as an irreverent Twitter experiment ended up proving a more serious point about the depth and breadth of Nicole Kidman’s heavyweight career.”