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Nicole Kidman's Best Movies and TV Shows, Ranked by Metacritic

Nicole Kidman's career has come full circle, flipping between film and TV effortlessly. See her top 10 titles, ranked by Metascore.
by Danielle Turchiano — 
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Nicole Kidman

Axelle Bauer Griffin / Getty Images

Australian actor Nicole Kidman stole scenes from her very first role, which was a remake of her home country's holiday film, Bush Christmas, when she was still a teenager. Within that same year, she was also appearing on television (Five Mile Creek). Yet, what is widely recognized as her breakthrough role didn't come until a few years later, with the 1989 thriller Dead Calm.

Dead Calm put her on the map globally, and when she began to focus on work in America, she stayed solely in the feature film business for many years, usually in dramatic roles that crossed genres. Batman Forever, for example, dove into the DC Comics superhero world, while Practical Magic saw her portraying witchcraft. Eyes Wide Shut was a sexual mystery, Moulin Rouge! let her show off her singing prowess, and Being the Ricardos had her stepping into the biopic space.

Along the way she picked up much awards acclaim for various films, including five Oscar nominations (one win), 12 Golden Globe nominations (four wins), 10 Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, nine Critics Choice Award nominations (one win), and four BAFTA nominations (one win) for her film work. 

In 2012, Kidman began to dip her toe back into television, too, with the original television movie Hemingway & Gellhorn. She was immediately celebrated with Emmy, Globe Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. 

Since 2017, she has flipped between film and television more often, beginning with appearing in the second season of Top of the Lake that year and then spinning into a long and lucrative partnership with David E. Kelley on adaptations of Big Little Lies, The Undoing, and Nine Perfect Strangers. She also served as executive producer on that latter trio of titles through Blossom Films, a company she launched with Per Saari in 2010. The company inked a first-look deal with Amazon Studios in 2018 and is producing The Expats for them, with Kidman pulling double duty once again.

Overall, Kidman's television work thus far has earned her an additional five SAG Award noms (one win), four Golden Globe noms (one win), two Critics Choice noms (one win), and one BAFTA nom. She also picked up three Emmy nominations (two wins).

Here, Metacritic highlights the top 10 titles Kidman has acted in, ranked by Metascore.


To Die For

Metascore: 86
Best for: Fans of social commentary, psychologically complex characters, and murder plots
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Starz, Vudu
Runtime: 106 minutes

Kidman scored a BAFTA Award nomination for her performance as Suzanne Stone, a woman who is so desperate to become a famous broadcast journalist that she plots to kill her husband (Matt Dillon) when he wants her to give up her career. It's a twisted character study that explores the thin line between fame and infamy as she manipulates teenagers into helping her with her plan, and seduces one (played by Joaquin Phoenix) along the way. The Gus Van Sant-directed film is inspired by the real-life Pamela Smart, who was the subject of Joyce Maynard's book of the same title.

"Prime social satire and outrageous fun." — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone


The Northman

Metascore: 83
Best for: Fans of Vikings
Where to watch: In theaters
Runtime: 136 minutes

Twenty years after Prince Amleth's (played in childhood by Oscar Novak and in adulthood by Alexander Skarsgård) uncle (Claes Bang) kills his father and kidnaps his mother, the prince meets a seeress (Björk), who reminds him that he once vowed to get revenge on his uncle. As an adult the prince is now a Viking, raiding Slavic villages, but he sets out on a journey to make good on that vow and save his mother. (Kidman plays his mother.) The film comes from writer-producer-director Robert Eggers.

"Beneath the runes and visions, it's a tale as old as Game of Thrones, and as simple as a story told around a campfire: a ride of the Valkyries spelled out in gore and popcorn." — Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly


Top of the Lake

Metascore: 81
Best for: Fans of crime dramas, somber mysteries, and female protagonists
Where to watch:

, Hulu, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 2

Jane Campion's crime drama is made up of two seasons that each feature a self-contained case for Det. Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) to solve. Robin specializes in sexual assault cases, and in the first season, she looks into the disappearance of a pregnant teenager. In the second season, subtitled China Girl, it is five years later and she is investigating the death of an Asian Jane Doe found in Sydney. Kidman co-stars in Top of the Lake: China Girl as Julia Edwards, Mary's adoptive mother.

"An overwhelmingly ambitious and unforgettably thoughtful piece of fiction that's told with the lightest of touches." — David Ehrlich, IndieWire


The Hours

Metascore: 80
Best for: Fans of psychological dramas, female-driven stories, and literary themes
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 114 minutes

Stephen Daldry's drama centers on three women from very different, distinct time periods but all share a connection to a Virginia Woolf novel. Meryl Streep plays a bisexual New Yorker in 2001; Julianne Moore plays a pregnant wife, mother, and homemaker in 1951 California; and Kidman, who won an Oscar for this performance, plays Virginia herself in 1923. The majority of the events of the film take place over the course of the same, single day in these different years, with the story flipping between the women as they grapple with love, loss, relationships, and suicidal ideation.

"A lovingly crafted meditation on death, loss and literature." — Andrew O'Hehir, Salon


Big Little Lies

Metascore: 78
Best for: Fans of female ensembles, adaptations, and murder mysteries
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 2

Kelley adapted Liane Moriarty's novel of the same title for a HBO drama that was originally set to only be one season but was later renewed. The first season follows the events of the book, revolving heavily on the untimely death of Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgård) at a black-tie event and the subsequent investigation into who killed him that unravels the secrets of a wealthy community. The second season takes the story beyond the book to explore the aftermath of his death, including a custody battle between his wife (Kidman) and mother (Streep), as well as how guilt can eat away at a person. The series won eight Emmys in its first season, including Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series for Kidman.

"Invigorating mix of dark comedy and drama." — Kristi Turnquist, The Oregonian


The Beguiled

Metascore: 77
Best for: Fans of period pieces, ensemble dramas, and unexpected crimes 
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu
Runtime: 93 minutes

In 2017, Sofia Coppola became the second director to bring to life an adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan's novel of the same title. Set during the Civil War, the story follows the few who are left a school for girls in Virginia and an injured soldier (Colin Farrell) they take care of but disagree about what to do with. Kidman plays Miss Martha Farnsworth, the head of the school, with Kirsten Dunst as the lone teacher left behind. Elle Fanning and Angourie Rice are among the actors playing students. As time goes on, relationships become strained with the soldier caught in the middle.

"Witty, menacing and steamy (in every sense)." — Jane Crowther, Total Film


Happy Feet

Metascore: 77
Best for: Fans of family-friendly animation, musicals, and stories with environmental messages
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu
Runtime: 108 minutes

In this CGI-animated movie, male penguins sing to attract a mate, but Memphis (voiced by Hugh Jackman) and Norma Jean's (Kidman) son, Mumble (Elijah Wood), is only able to dance. Because he is so different, he faces ridicule from many within his own community and struggles to connect with the penguin he loves (Brittany Murphy). As the film explores his attempts to find a place he belongs, it also drives home an important message about conservation within these animal populations.

"In spite of its crowd-pleasing plots, it holds onto its integrity with a smart and surprisingly deep story." — Tasha Robinson, The A.V. Club


Paddington

Metascore: 77
Best for: Fans of anthropomorphism and charming protagonists on a mission
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu
Runtime: 95 minutes

Paul King's CGI-live action comedy hybrid stars Ben Whishaw as the voice of the titular bear, one of very few of his species in the world, who ends up in London. As he searches for the explorer who discovered his family members, he meets a sweet British family, as well as a cruel taxidermist (Kidman) along the way, which puts him in great danger. This 2014 film, for which King was nominated for two BAFTA Awards, is just the start of what became a fan-favorite franchise.

"Gloriously silly jokes, pitch-perfect performances and incidental detail." — Chris Hewitt, Empire


Rabbit Hole

Metascore: 76
Best for: Fans of grief-driven dramas
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 91 minutes

Kidman and Aaron Eckhart star as a married couple struggling with the loss of their young son in John Cameron Mitchell and David Lindsay-Abaire's movie based on Lindsay-Abaire's play of the same title. As this couple is pulled in opposite directions by their grief, they make surprising new connections as they try to heal individually. Kidman received an Oscar nomination for her performance in 2011. She also served as a producer on the film after launching her Blossom Films banner in 2010.

"A disarming sense of humor amid the grimmest sort of personal crisis and a pair of juicy leading roles." — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune


The Others

Metascore: 74
Best for: Fans of period pieces, and supernatural and psychological horror
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 104 minutes

After a handful of unexplained events begin to occur in her new house in Jersey, Grace (Kidman) worries that her home is haunted in this film from Alejandro Amenábar. Living in a remote area with two young children while her husband is off fighting in World War II, she grows increasingly concerned about their safety, especially when she finds out something shocking about those she has working for her. Both Amenábar and Kidman were nominated for BAFTA Awards for The Others.

"A quiet little masterpiece of dark and chilling beauty." — Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle


UPDATED: This story was updated on April 16, 2022 to include The Northman.