Five Best Kate Winslet Performances   Leave a comment

Happy 40th, Kate!

Kate Winslet turns 40 today! And she’s welcoming this new decade with a career comeback. Her seventh Oscar nomination as a supporting actress for Danny Boyle’s new film Steve Jobs is almost assured at this stage, and it will be her first since winning the top plum for The Reader back in 2008. As such, it’s time to revisit Winslet’s career, as I list five of her best performances.

But first, here are three ones that almost made the list: Her Emmy nominated turn as a nun in Extras in 2006 which correctly hinted that her Oscar winning performance would be in a Nazi related movie, the third party mistress Tula in 2005’s Romance & Cigarettes playing third fiddle to James Gandolfini and Susan Sarandon, and her Golden Globe nominated performance in Roman Polanski’s Carnage in 2011 that showcases her impeccable comedic timing. As for the actual list…

05. REVOLUTIONARY ROAD (2008, director: Sam Mendes)

It’s rather unfortunate that her baitier performance that same year won her the Oscar, when Winslet was much more magnificent as the lonely suburban housewife in her then husband’s feature “Revolutionary Road.” As April Wheeler, one can consider this as the second of her unofficial “problematic bored housewives” series (starting with 2006’s “Little Children” and ending in 2013’s “Labor Day“. WInslet was full on theatrics in this one, which can be considered as a turn off, but was matched with equally loud Leonardo di Caprio. How Winslet portrayed the once hopeful, young housewife and her slow realization of hopelessness because of being with him was impeccably played to great heights in this film.

04. HEAVENLY CREATURES (1994, director: Peter Jackson)

Considered as Kate’s breakout performance, Winslet played beautiful music (literally and figuratively) with co-star Melanie Lynskey in this 1994 Peter Jackson film, long before he decided to do his Middle Earth trilogy. Based on a real life 50’s scandal, Winslet portrays the beautiful Juliet, fresh from England, with such vibrancy that you’d be hooked to whatever she’s hooked to — may it be literature or music or art. She crosses the line between innocent at one moment then switches to seductive the other, that you’d be lying if you weren’t seduced into the little world they’re building.

03. HOLY SMOKE (1999, director: Jane Campion)

There is something about the way Kate Winslet exudes and defines sexuality during her early heydays as proven by previous entry “Heavenly Creatures.” This was further heightened in her performance in 1999’s “Holy Smoke” where she plays the Australian Ruth, whose views of her own spiritual awakening has impacted the way she lives her life. Campion poses a lot of challenges to  Ruth here: her firm beliefs, her seducing ways, her views on relationship up to her controlling ways, but WInslet was very much up to the challenge.

02. SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995, director: Ang Lee)

Receiving her first career Oscar nomination two decades ago for Ang Lee’s take on this Jane Austen novel (with a screenplay penned by co-star Emma Thompson), Winslet’s Marianne Dashwood was full of charm and charisma, one character you’d easily root for. It’s a performance full of life, and Kate was exuberant in it you’d think she literally came out of the novel to portray the character. While Mira Sorvino was underrated for her accomplishment in Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite“, I would have preferred if WInslet won her Oscar for this performance instead.

01. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004, director: Michel Gondry)

Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine.

Still what I consider as the peak of Kate Winslet’s career, it’s easy to label her Clementine Kruczynski as her best one uet.. And looking at her career standpoint now, I don’t think we’d be seeing a performance as captivating as what she did in this one. This is probably a character that’s against type for Kate — mostly stuck on period films (Jude, Quills, Titanic) or even playing younger version of other character such as her portrayal of the young Iris Murdoch in 2001’s Iris. Thus, not only is it refreshing to see Winslet in this type of role, probably even rarer by the fact that it was very much complexly written that watching her being discovered by Jim Carrey’s Joel directly affects us as well. Sure, one can credit that Clementine is the product of a greatly written character, but Kate’s performance certainly contributed to why she’s memorable. Like I said in the initial post, Winslet’s comedic timing is rarely seen (more so in her personal interviews rather than her on screen portrayals) that seeing her in this was as much delightful as it was melancholic.

What are your thoughts on Kate Winslet? What are your favorite performances of her? Tweet and talk to me about it: @nikowl

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