Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rant From a Defensive Kidman Fan

I normally enjoy the snark and wit of the blog "by Ken Levine" but I took issue with this post which takes easy potshots at one of the best actresses on the planet. The usual complaints are there: botox, box office poison, weird movies, etcetera. I'm not sure why hating on Nicole Kidman became such a popular sport. It can't only be her ubiquity. Cate Blanchett is even more irremoveable from magazines and screens these days and it's definitely uncool to hate on her as I've discovered ... I'm still dressing the wounds, you savage unforgiving beasts!

I think quite possibly the reason it's cool to hate on Kidman is sadder to point out: her artistry. It's true that her mainstream efforts tend to stink a little. She doesn't have the best taste in mall films or her heart isn't in them. And just as the haters suggest Kidman makes small weird and unsuccessful films, too. These intermittently challenging volleys to the audience --Fur, Birth, Dogville, Margot at the Wedding etcetera-- seem to upset people, else why would they so frequently be used in the targeting of the star? I don't think we're used to behemoth stars confronting us with our own limitations as movie consumers and I think it's even more discomforting -- for whatever reason...I'm no psychologist-- to realize that this type of film/role is what makes one particular A Listers heart beat quickly and fondly. And I think even the people who won't watch these movies have realized this about Mrs. Urban by now.

Our other formidable and über famous actresses who could handle the auteur driven tasks that Kidman takes on, or the burdensom warped psychologies she attempts to illuminate choose not to. Streep, Dench, Blanchett, Winslet etcetera mostly don't go to such dark and weird places... at least not with such persistence. Helen Mirren has some peculiarities in her filmography but people weren't paying such close attention. After the Queen she chose National Treasure 2 (maybe that was an avant garde tribute to Charlize Theron and Halle Berry's post Oscar choices? Oh Helen you sly silver fox) Even Julianne Moore and Tilda Swinton, former darlings of iconoclast auteurs and the avant garde respectively, are spending lots of time in mainstream Hollywood pictures.

I think the public at large would probably prefer it if they didn't have to hear about little oddities like Fur and Birth and, here's the truth about fame's power, they wouldn't if people like Kidman weren't in them. Which brings us to The Golden Compass. I'll give you that it's messier plotwise than most of the would be blockbusters you see out there. But cut it a small break, it's got much more complex material and themes to deal with. So F'in What if The Golden Compass isn't half as successful monetarily as the simple Christ metaphors in Narnia. Who cares?

The old cliché that awards bodies don't cotton to unlikeable characters (unless they happen to be showy "love to hate" villains) is holding true this year for Kidman's impressive if highly confrontational work in Margot at the Wedding (my thoughts). Is the problem that she doesn't give the audience a good light charming woman as a buffer inbetween the disturbed ladies? Or is the problem that she's just not great at the light stuff that's usually a requirement for supersize celebrities who command $15 million a picture?

Can't we at least look at The Golden Compass (my review) and recognize that Nicole Kidman understands and is beginning to illuminate a character with an unusual surplass of mental baggage. Or is that verboten in a children's fantasy flick, this discomforting psychology as obvious as the golden monkey on her back? Shouldn't the reviewing types be writing about these things rather than bitching about how smooth Nicole's face looks. That particular quibble wasn't in Mr. Levine's post but I've seen too many reviews that complain about the way she's lit, as if her scenes were filmed in such a way entirely to serve her vanity. Newsflash to all people bitching: look at the movie. Numerous surfaces are filmed this way. Kidman's face is but one of hundreds of elements that get that airbrushed glossy sheen) But, oh yes, sorry. Nobody wants to think about cinematography and production choices when they watch a movie. They just want to love or hate on celebrities and gawk at CGI.

Pass the popcorn. [/rant from a defensive Kidman fan]

These posts aren't Nicole Kidman related but they're in the same field on the commerce/art battleground: NovaSlim has a funny post on the whack criteria of judging musical talent by bank accounts; Low Resolution takes Richard Corliss to task for his oddly incoherent and pandering article on "out of touch" critics. Imagine it... critics daring to trumpet movies that haven't come out yet and adult oriented films that don't play with the Transformers crowd.

Classic Kidman Quiz: We Are All Nicole Kidman


Camille said...

I'm a Kidman fan too. I saw almost all her movies, including the obscure ones and I also think she's not given the appreciation she deserves.

adam k. said...

Wow Nat I didn't realize you loved her so much. Last I checked, she wasn't even in your top 100. But she does keep on pluggin' away, earning brownie points with those of us who champion nontraditional careers.

It is rather odd that she's this huge HUGE star (just check famousr) who doesn't actually star in big successful films basically EVER, and who also doesn't see nearly as much awards love as you'd think she would. My guess is in 20 years, she ends up rather like Christie or Mirren in that she doesn't have all that many oscar noms, and has not starred in all that many blockbusters, but has emerged as a legend to those who know the cinema. And oddly, the mainstream will never have forgotten about her either, despite the fact that all her mainstream efforts fail.

Remember back in 2001/2002 when you and others were saying "Sure she's knockin' 'em outta the park now, but it seems like they can wait, you know? Give it so someone else this year (2002). She'll be oscar-worthy again and again now." And look what happened. Nary a nomination since 2002. A simple backlash, or something more complicated? I doubt she would've been nommed regardless of whether she'd won that oscar, so maybe they did make the right choice to get her over with before things got ugly.

She has been having a lot of bad luck lately. She's usually very good in her films (Bewitched and Stepford Wives aside), and yet they keep failing. Even this year (which seemed so fullproof) offered up one complete failure and two mixed bags. No unqualified successes. No nominations. Hopefully next year will be different. I just hope these "interesting failures" of hers are earning her as much goodwill with the academy as they are with cineastes... but somehow I doubt it.

Alright, end of rant.

Alex F. said...

I can admire the fact that she takes on risky, smaller films, I think that's her forte. I can't think of any other actor (not even Clooney) that can match Kidman's "one for me, one for them" mentality, the thing is, the "ones for them" have done little to further Nicole's acting or career. These tend to be the more high profile ones, so these are the ones people remember.

Kidman, the small film actress, is terrific. Kidman, the big time movie star in big studio pictures, not so much. Most people have probably never seen her in the smaller movies, so all they've got to go on is the big "failures". Couple that with all the media attention she gets, and the reports of her super-high salary, and well people will start talking.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Nat. I've been thinking much the same lately. It amazes me that Kate Winslet or Ms Blanchett (both very fine actresses) have plenty of bombs or just plain bad films in their resumes ("Holiday", anyone? "The Gift"? Golden Age?) and yet those poor choices are swept under the rug and forgotten most forgivingly. After Golden Age bombed, no one talked about Blanchett being overpaid or overrated, or that she made poor choices; instead, everyone ignored the elephant in the room to concentrate breathlessly on I'm Not There.

The thing about Kidman is that her performances MOVE me emotionally, which is something I can say about no other actor (male or female) right now. I'm not just watching a performance, I'm getting emotionally involved with a real person, whose dilemma uncannily mirrors something going on in my own life at the time I encounter her (whether her name is Isabel, Grace or even Satine).

I often think that it is still held against her that she married Tom Cruise, that there's this perception that she didn't suffer sufficiently, didn't "earn" her place. But the fact remains that she has been working in theater, TV and films since the age of 14 in Australia, had earned awards and acclaim long before Tom Cruise spotted her, as did the rest of us, in "Dead Calm". And marrying TC may have been a super-highway to wealth and fame but not, ironically, to the career she wanted - for who else slogged through as many mediocre Hollywood films in the 1990's because they couldn't figure out how to use her, or was turned down for more high-profile projects, even as the directors turning her down as "not right" admired her talent and intensity? She may not have starved in a 15-story walk-up or slept in a gutter, but she has nonetheless paid her dues as an actress.

And no one else right now is as fearless (and yes, foolish) in her choices. That's the sort of courage that you would think filmgoers, critics, cineastes of all stripes, would admire and herald. Do we really want another Julia (look at me! I'm playing my charming self again!) Roberts?


Anonymous said...

Kidman commands up to 17-18 million dollars. She made that for The Invasion. She made over 15 million for The Golden Compass. Nicole Kidman's biggest hit? Either Batman Forever or Happy Feet.

Compare that to Meryl Streep's salary for The Devil Wears Prada (5 million) in a film that'll be more successful than any of Kidman's 2007 follies

I think adam k nailed it. She's a major Hollywood star who doesn't have a hell of a lot of success (commercially) behind her. You say who "F'in cares," but you yourself already ranked Cate Blanchett's success via box office, so clearly it's of some interest to you.

I've defended Kidman's choices before - I really don't care that she makes Bewitched as long as she makes Birth. That said, I can definitely see why people rag on her. Massive salary that's undeserved on a Hollywood scale. The belief that she was a star first (via her marriage), actress second for the majority of her career. And the fact that her best performances tend to come from divisive films that polarize cineastes (we may respect Birth now, but there are still many people who loathe it). Toss that in with a fairly cold persona (hell, the biggest hit she carried: The Others) plus her overly botoxed face and you have a star hard to love, easy to mock.

Anonymous said...

Comparing Kidman and Blanchett is quite silly, if you ask me.

It's ok hating on Blanchett for all the acclaim she's received but to blame Kidman on her awful mainstream movies is not.

And while Blanchett doesn't have that many weird characters, you can't say her choices aren't daring. I'm Not There, Notes on a Scandal, The Aviator, The Good German aren't mainsteream at all and her characters all have a different shade from everything she's ever done. When she goes mainstream, she does it in a safe way, yes, but who can blame her for starring in LOTR or the upcoming Indiana Jones?

Kidman sucks when going mainstream and even though her small movies always offer her some great choices, the movies just aren't good, at least the more recent ones. She also commands huge paychecks and money is what drives Hollywood.

Anonymous said...

It is nice to see someone defend Nicole, though she does have to stop that botoxthing, it's getting quite eerie. But I'll always love and defend her for her incomporable run of The Others, Moulin Rouge!, The Hours and Dogville!

Catherine said...

I came out of the cinema feeling overwhelmingly positive about her in The Golden Compass.

And I finally did that quiz. I'm Woolf (sigh)...

Michael B. said...

Love the post. I too am a Kidman fan and hate it when people just say the negative things about her. Next year is looking to be a good year for her (Australia/The Reader) but when you posted "Box office Poison" the first thing/person that came to mind was Katherine Hepburn. She was dubbed BO poison after winning her Oscar but she made one movie and was back on track. And she will be a legend. No other actress takes risks as much as her.

Anonymous said...

I've been a little shocked at the level of anti-Nicole sentiment out there recently too, from the movie blogs to TMZ and everything in between, especially since it's all nonsense. As many have pointed out, even truly gifted actresses have their bombs, their questionable choices, their quirks, and those ultimately say nothing of their acting prowess. Around Stepford or Bewitched, I think the media caught the scent of blood on Nicole and hasn't let up since.

And while I'm sorry that Compass' failure has given the haters AND the religious nuts an excuse to pat themselves on the back, I'm not sorry she made it. For months leading up to the release I thought the marketing was all over the place and never really had a hook to make people rush out to see it, so to blame Nicole is insane.

And says Mirren about NT2: "I can't go on being royal, can I? Have to have a little sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll in my acting life!" [NY Observer 12/11/07]

Sly silver fox indeed :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your rant, Nat.
Yes, Kidman takes risks, yes sometimes she fails, but Huppert and Blanchett also fail but they never go to extremes like Nicole, they tend to stick to their comfort zone (Ma mère ?? the Good German ?? The Golden Age ? Uh !!)
At least Kidman fails while trying different things. I mean, who else can play Virginia Woolf and then shine on an empty set in Sweden, then star as a witch in the lightest mainstream comedy you can get ? And all that in what, three years ?
I think her problem is that she should sometimes refuse lead roles in bad movies and take supporting ones in better movies. Like in Compass. Not always be the star of the movie.

That being said, I'm sure she's gonna rock in Australia and The Reader. Can't wait for these films !

Love ya Nic

Unknown said...

Kidman is such an easy target to attack as box office poison. It's just such a sexist accusation. John Travolta (who I dislike), Nicolas Cage (yuck..what is his success beside National Treasure??? Wicker Man? Man of War? The Weather Man?) and Brad Pitt (who I like)have bombs after bombs but nobody tell them to go away. Why? Because they are man!
And it's not just mainstream bloggers that have issues with Kidman. Some of the writers on awards daily including the lady (I forgot her name) attacked Kidman in her "Margot" review by pointing out how Kidman is so botoxed that she can't move her face etc. Did she even watch the same movie????
I gotta admit I was a Nicole hater during the Batman Forever period but since the Moulin Rouge peiod, she has become my fav actress. Her mainstream efforts maybe stinky (come on, whose mainstream efforts are not stinky nowadays?) but she kept challenging herself again and again. Even when I her movie is too strange (Fur comes to mind), I have to give her credits and respect for taking risks. I think why Blanchett is not attacked as much for her flops is because in her mainstream efforts, she is hardly sold as the true selling point (Elizabeth excepted). Like the new Indiana Jones, she is the female lead but the selling point will be Harrison and Shia obviously. So if the movie bombs, she will get away unscratched. Bewitched relies on Nicole and Will Ferrel (he wasn't attacked for this? I wonder why.)
Enough of my rant. I am really getting tired of Nicole attack. I do hope her mainstream efforts will do better though so she can continue making these interesting small projects.

Unknown said...
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Pablete said...

On the one hand, I agree that the box office poison title is sexist; it has always been used to put some of the greatest actresses down, including Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, and a long etcetera. On the other hand, I believe Nicole Kidman is not using botox. If she was doing so, she would not have any wrinkles. What she is using is excellent night creams and tons of make-up, which was perfectly exemplified in the Golden Globes' red carpet of 2004 (Birth). Many of wrinkles are also eliminated in her photographs through photographic techniques. This aspect can be seen in her stupendous September 2007's Vanity Fair's shoots.

Anonymous said...

i was actually expecting you to write this sooner. i think, if she has any fault at all with the way her career's been lately, it's for being too earnest in her choices. this makes her an easy target for writers. like this one.,22049,22803751-5001031,00.html


Kurtis O said...

Nicole is a rare breed. Her recent track record of semi- or un-successful projects that lack the prestige of those that made her a class A actress have virtually no effect on my opinions of her. Even if she had done something like "Freedom Writers," I still wouldn't be the slightest bit tempted to sign her off like I would some other "stars." To me, she's different from someone like Queen Meryl, who I secretly want to have a perfect filmography, wiped clean of things I didn't like ("Prime," "Lions for Lambs"). With Nicole, I'm interested in everything she does, even if I do sometimes question her judgment. Mainstream, vanguard, or Oscar-bait dramatic, I think I wholeheartedly accept the fact that she's a fantastic malleable talent and I'll take her anyway I can get her.

Anonymous said...

People didn't place blame on Cate Blanchett in "The Golden Age" b/c it wasn't her fault for the film's failings. Blame the director, the screenplay, the bombastic score, etc., but for my money, she delivered a fine performance that rose above the film's shortcomings and was Oscar-worthy in the process.

As for Nicole Kidman, I adore her, and I'm in the proud camp of saying that she fully deserved her Oscar for "The Hours". I get why she does the arthouse/mainstream back and forthing as much as she does -- she wants the dollars and the acclaim, but after a while, you have to assess your strengths and weaknesses, and dreck like "Bewitched" just ain't it.

I thought that she was riveting in "Birth" and "Fur" and even made that weird "Dowville" work, but b/c of her supposed icy and distant persona, people will just never liken to her like they will for Julia Roberts or Reese Witherspoon. It's just a different ballgame for her for some reason (partly her own doing), and I for one applaud her for her daring. Her mainstream choices could be far better, and I hope that she doesn't get the short end of the stick in the "'The Golden Compass' flopped" crowd. But with her resume being what it is, I'm still eager to see what she comes up with next. Can't wait to see "Margot at the Wedding" when/if it gets here.

Anonymous said...

Kidman is too much of an ice queen to qualify as a great actress, imho. To Die For is probably her best movie, and it's only decent. Blanchett falls into the occasional redundant mannerism traps and makes the usual bad script choices too.

but who can blame her for starring in the upcoming Indiana Jones?

Yo, I sure can, but then again I can not *stand* that fey inconsequential cartoon series for the life of me. Yeah, you read that right. Rest assured I am no fan of Raiders at all, I'm sick to death now of Ford's clearly limited range, and Spielberg has just been sorely disappointing me over and over since the start of this century. As for this La Beef I even need to start on him? Vaguely annoying bland no-name upstart.

Would both Elizabeths (horrifically overrated graceless crap fit for 'Masterpiece' Theatre) count as mainstream Cate?

Anonymous said...

i do respect kidman's indie choices but just that "so called" bravery alone does not make you a GREAT actress.

The indie films were challenging kidman NEVER EVER makes us believe there is any warmth or soul to the character. or that she is trying so so hard to achieve " greatness" and be the "successor to meryl streep"
forget it: thats cate blanchett dear

especially, that hissy, modulated soft voice she always uses to suggest intensity

like someone else said: her best roles: playing the dead in others and a mean bitch in to die for.

and nathaniel: do not forget your comment about her during the interview at the new york festival
smiling to camera but cold as hell once off her.

cate, winslet, streep: theres a personality, individuality and warmth that radiates back to classic film stars like bette and audrey.

stepford wives would have been a HUGE hit if kidman played the robot stepford wife. that would have suited her.

Anonymous said...

whats this about "BRAVE" choices

her agent was just savvy about her working with cannes winning directors. "share in their artistry and hopefully by proxy I would be great too-limited though my talents are"

Dogville was the only great indie film--margot; fur and birth were all just half baked sophomore attempts by directors who had sparkling debuts. of course everyone wanted to work with them.
maybe it was nicole's presence in these films that made them so UNENGAGING
sexy beast had presence:
secretary was funny
squid and whale: warmth and powerful acting

instead of people trying to praise nicole for embracing indie, do they not realise SHE was the weak LINK: unable to anchor direction in birth; miscast in fur and so one dimensional in margot

rosengje said...

I think the disconnect exists because she should never have had her salary bumped up to the near $20 million she commands per picture. Nicole Kidman is a fantastic actress, and her placement atop your Actresses of the Aughts is indisputable.

However, she is simply not a commercial actress. Even her biggest box office successes were in more specialty fare (Moulin Rouge!, The Hours, Cold Mountain, The Others). I think her off-screen persona and almost statuesque beauty have made her such a popular cultural figure that it has crafted the illusion that she's more commercially successful than she is.

Basically, I believe she just needs to allow her popularity (and salary)to deflate a little bit. She isn't Julia Roberts, thank god. And while that may mean lesser paydays, it also means she can concentrate on the smaller, more challenging pictures that she seems so fond of. I personally, would rather see her in Margot at the Wedding than The Golden Compass.


one dimensional in MARGOT? wow. we watched a different movie. I was riveted to that character. the film is a total mess I think but damn does she work to investigate that woman's psyche.

and again I don't think it's necessary to exude warmth to be a great actress. all actors have strengths and weaknesses. so what if she's not cuddly? we don't need everyone to be meg ryan or sally field. meg ryan and sally field will do.

as for judging cate by her box office as i did earlier this fall. I meant it as an experiment. I will never and do never judge acting talent based on ability to put asses in seats --see also NOVASLIM'S great post that's linked about how whack that is. I was just trying to point out that it's weird that she's considered the be all end all in casting when she isn't bankable and there are plenty of other famous actresses who could handle the same roles.

Anonymous said...

I don't really know what to say about Kidman, but she is my current favouroite actress, and the bashing because of botox annoys me, nobody cares about acting, nobody cares about The Others, Dogville and Moulin Rouge!. They care that she wore a see through dress to the Australian music awards, or that she made Bewitched and Stepford Wives. People remember her for her whispery voice rather than her brilliant performances. That said, she was dreadful in The Human Stain.


i'm glad that fans are smart enough to realize she makes mistakes and stay loyal. So Brodie, i hear you.

I lumped FUR in with the discussion because its emblematic of her "problem" for audiences but I should note that I don't think she was very good in it. It felt like a retread of better work and I don't think she found a way in necessarily but that said... at least this woman tries to do interesting characters. You don't catch her phoning it in per se.

and she rocks in Birth. I'm bewildered that so many people can't see the subtle and odd beauty, the honesty re: self delusion in that performance. it's good stuff.

By Ken Levine said...


For the record, I don't hate Nicole Kidman. She has -- in the past -- given some terrific performances. I say that in my comments section.

As for the Botox, Nate, if you saw her the day I did ten years ago and see her now you'd cry. What was once the most NATURAL beauty I had ever seen is today bordering on (sorry) ghoulish.

I wish she had chosen to age gracefully. I guarantee you she would be just as striking for her age now as she was for her age then.

Anonymous said...

Well, ken, it really isn't up to you whether Kidman uses botox or not.

The Keeper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cinesnatch said...

Kidman: very capable actor with an exceptional ouevre. Like most would agree, she seems cold, distant, unlikeable and self-absorbed. Yet, she's obviously intelligent and curious, which are admirable qualities.

If you were to compare her to Blanchette, another very capable actor, I would say that Blanchette seems a little more down-to-earth, yet I'm not particularly drawn to her films.

Many are heralding Blanchette as the next Meryl Streep. That's fine. Kidman, however, isn't really the next anybody, because I don't think we've ever seen anythinig like her before.

Here's hoping she kicks as in 2008 as she reunites with the two directors who gave her her only Oscar nominations earlier this decade.

Anonymous said...

I have absolutely no problem with Kidman earning whatever money she can get out of the studios. As a woman, I say "go her" and any other woman who can do the same. When she sits at her home and the studios say, we want you to do this and this is what we will pay you, why should she say "no, please pay me less?", if any other performer can sit in a boardroom and get the same amount of money for their time then I say "go ahead". So, her movies flopped, big deal, she has already made more after that and I think people fail to realise that apart from the dent to the ego, the failure of her movies at the BO does little to her bank account because she was already paid.

BTW, apart from Bewitched, it was the directors or producers who approached her to do these movies. For Invasion, it was Joel Silver who went after her, stating that they had to go after her a bit to do the movie and they paid her $17m for it, for TSW, it was Scott Rudin who approached her and it was Pollack who approached her for Interpreter so why should she refuse and say, "don't pay me that?", only in Hollywood can successful women be made to feel less, they are the ones who get lists made about them as if they are second class citizens still out there impressing people with their efforts. So, people are talking and yet, she is working and doing what she likes, she is about to go do The Reader, a movie produced by Scott Rudin who produced TSW so it doesn't actually seem like these guys care since they keep going back to her to work with them, she hasn't changed for anybody and keeps doing what she wants. If Meryl wants to earn more perhaps she should work at it in the boardroom. If I am Kidman, I will earn the most that I can.

Kidman has been at it since she was 14, she ain't going nowhere.
TGC may not be doing well in the States but the world is bigger, it is doing well elsewere. Next up, "Australia" and "The Reader".

Nat, I don't think Kidman has anything to worry about, if they couldn't run her out in the 90s, they have about as much chance to do that now as a lion giving birth to a leopard.

Botox, plastic surgery, etc. are not biggies anymore, you can get these things done at any road side shop and people droning on about them as if they are sooooooo bad should get out more, or leave their own anti-ageing cremes alone.

Ken, if you consider what Kidman looks like now as "ghoulish" then I wonder what you will describe someone as Michael Rourke or Jessica Lange as. Kidman is ghoulish? no, she is not, if ghoulish is what she looks like in London last month then I think I must have no idea of the meaning of the word. I, also, can see Kidman and there is nothing ghoulish about her.

[b]ghoul[/b] noun 1 someone who is interested in morbid or disgusting things. 2 a in Arab mythology: a demon that robs graves and eats dead bodies; b an evil spirit or presence.

Let's not get carried away, lol. You may be disappointed that she uses cosmetic aid but let's not get carried away. As for seeing her 10 years ago when she was 30 that was then, it is actually rather silly to start describing a 40-something year old as "wanting to grow old gracefully", at least wait till she is about 60. Why western women under the age of 60 think someone saying "I love that you are growing old gracefully" is a compliment" is beyond me.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I am glad that there are still a few people out there who even, if they don't know the woman personally or like her that much still sees her work for what it is. Thank you everybody and not to add much, I agree with Nat's original post, I have pretty much said the same thing so many times that it is quite tiresome now to be defending someone who really doesn't need to be defended.

Kidman, as someone mentioned is something else and that is how it should be. An actress like Kidman would be a European auteur's dream, personally, she is wasted in US cinema because the people who should be opening the doors i.e. the critics only like to see women they can cuddle to or adore on the screen, they don't want women to make them uncomfortable in anyway hence Ken's "weird" choices. All our female performers are wasted. Where are today's Davies, Crawford (before Baby Jane), Mercedes, Hepburn (before Tracy), actresses who showed us women with grit, now as long as the actresses perform then it is all good, it doesn't matter that we don't remember much of what they did a year later. We don't have women onscreen who stand toe to toe with men anymore unless they are exchanging Karate chops a la Lara Croft.

I rather feel that if someone who uses botox shakes Ken's hand that he wouldn't have a clue about it but that is just me.

Box office poison? she joins a nice crowd a la Hepburn, Davies and more great actresses. I guess if Kidman wasn't worth something then the likes of Ken wouldn't give her a column on his blog.

Thanks Ken, I am sure that when she calls her accountant that she cries over those millions.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 10:09 - No one's saying Kidman should push the boardroom people for all they're worth. If they think she's worth 17-18 million dollars, so be it. However, the audience/critics/you and me get to decide if WE think she's worth that much money by whether or not we see her films. I don't think she deserves that kind of money. In Hollywood terms, that kind of money should be given to stars who can consistently open films and give them some strong legs. Additionally, if those performers can sell the movie abroad, so much the better. I'd argue, for example, that Will Smith deserves that kind of money. No, he's not a better actor than Nicole Kidman, but he's certainly more reputable at the box office.

Whatever. Nicole Kidman's income aside, she's a fiercely fascinating actress (and I just came back from Margot at the Wedding, and that film simply confirms the surprising range of her talent) and I'm glad that I get the chance to watch her.


i'm glad to see such an outpouring of opinion and I would agree that botox does not help an actors ability to work with their face. it inhibits it. but the only time I've been bothered by weird facial things with Kidman was in FUR... that did appear botoxy to me.

people complain about this too much though obviously. I mean one of my best friends routinely screams "she can't move her face" to me when i go on and on about how superb michelle pfeiffer's performance is in white oleander. my friend felt her face couldn't move in that picture.

i disagree.

actresses have it so rough though. if they don't do cosmetic things people complain that they look old. If they do, people complain that their faces look stiff. it's maddening.

that said, and not to defeat the point of this post, but i do hope Kidman stops the botox. but even with it she's a hella good actress.

Anonymous said...

I'm with u Nat... Nic is great and she'll be remember fondly in the future as an adventurous performer...

Anonymous said...

NK's movies really does well internationally, but not in the US.

Paul C. said...

What remarkable timing- I just posted a short piece on my blog about Kidman's perf in Margot at the Wedding just yesterday. I was really taken with how balls-out she was in that. No holding back in the interest of her career, no soft-pedaling the character's unpleasantness. It's like she needed to cut loose, and thank goodness she did.

When it comes to Nicole as a star, I think part of the problem is that she hasn't found a really endearing stock character like a lot of other big female draws. In the eyes of many non-cinephiles, what she has going for her has to do more with movie-star glamour than with an affection for the characters she plays. But I also think the glamour is a facade meant to cover up the nervy undercurrent of her onscreen persona, something that today's audiences have a hard time dealing with, and something that comes through loud and clear in movies like Margot. I have a feeling that Kidman could be a really talented, off-kilter comedienne like Elaine May or 70s-era Diane Keaton, but the big-budget comedies she stars in don't give her any chance to show his off.

Let's hope that now that Hollywood has declared her "over" as a superstar, she really gets a chance to cut loose and demonstrate what she's capable of. Because I have a feeling that she's got a lot more left to show us.

Glenn Dunks said...

I think it's amusing that in the post 2000 period she had such incredible goodwill and then about 2004 is started to disappear because - as the article states - people didn't like her movie choices. Unless someone wins awards for their small experimental indie work it's deemed unimportant and so they focus on the big movies and they haven't really worked out very well. I still say The Interpretter is a very good thriller and The Golden Compass is doing very well overseas.

But, I can see that stuff like Stepford Wives and Bewitched aren't much good, but I would rather her do movies like that, which allow her to make movies like Birth, Dogville and the like.

The thing that I think is imperitive to know though is that DIRECTORS obviously know what she's capable of. It's not like all these small arthouse films that she's making are from noname directors, ya know!

Anonymous said...

Desperate actresses go to the botox route and it never works. See Jessica Lange. She could age normally but chose to do somw work. What once was one of the most beautiful faces of the cinema, noow looks plastic and yes, bad.
If you looks at other actresses with her age like Glenn Close or Meryl Streep, never the beauty queens but that didn't do any plastic or botox, they are still smooth and natural looking.

Meryl gets all the roles for her age(and Nat, you complain about Cate B. but never Meryl, who could spread the wealth with much more desperate and unemployed actresses)and still commands public atention, BO and Oscar buzz. Glenn Close doesn't have a healthy movie career but is experiencing a career ressurgence at TV with the great show Damages.

Lange is nowhere to be seen.

My point is, of course Nicole had botox done. Her face isn't natural as it used to be. It still doesn't affect her acting but sometime she'll start to have a plastic look and won't get more roles, while the Winslets and Blanchetts will keep rolling.

Glenn Dunks said...

Speaking of people who are stars without warranting it - reading your new Oscar predictions, under Angelina Jolie: "Biopic role + accent + Angelina's mega stardom and red carpet glory + Brad Pitt + challenging herself again + respected (if unloved) film = Nomination"

Now Angelina is someone who's "mega stardom" is baffling.

ryan said...

well yes Lange. But that's another matter entirely. Lange is doing full on plastic surgery. I don't think Kidman is doing that. Botox is temporary after all (at least from my extremely limited medical knowledge ;) )

the saddest one for me is Faye Dunaway who is unrecognizable now. some sort of Amanda lePore plastic surgery concoction.

and i'm not sure that it's fare to compare Kate Winslet to Nicole Kidman in the aging department since Kate Winslet is only 32 --she still has a very solid 10 to 12 years of lead roles according to stereotypical Hollywood timetables. Kidman has entered the danger zone of the 40somethings. The big stars usually don't disappear until the late 40s so she's probably worried for nothing... but the nonbig stars drop off like flies in their 40s don't they?

sad... especially considering the talent pool.

this is a depressing topic but on the other hand I think we've seen progress. I remember in the 1993 power list in Premiere or something there was a snarky bit about Pfeiffer's post Catwoman mega stardom with something like "she's not getting any younger" Pfeiffer was 35. fer crying out loud.

Things have gotten better. Usually you don't hear these things until at least 40 now and my guess is it will keep edging back. I mean look how good Streep and Basinger look in the 50s for just two examples.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about Kidman is that she gets (almost) no credit for her pre-2001 work. It's almost as if people think she did nothing before Moulin Rouge! and then out of nowhere came this amazing actress. In fact, she's already been aces in To Die For, gave what might be her best performance in the criminally underrated The Portrait of a Lady, and demonstrated her absolute fearlessness as an actress in Eyes Wide Shut (she certainly didn't try to make that character easy to digest... she totally embraced the drugged out haze). And those are three world-class auteurs she worked with.

Anonymous said...

i hate it when people keep referring to her as an ice queen when in fact, kidman is one of the few genuinely warm and spontaneous celebrities out there. i refer you to some of her previous appearances. there's nothing calculated or stoic in the woman i see in these.


Glenn Dunks said...

Steve, tell me about it! She's been winning awards since 1987's Vietnam and 1988's Bangkok Hilton.

In fact, the Golden Globes nominated her for Billy Bathgate before any mainstream American group even considered giving her an award for To Die For.

Anonymous said...

Kidman's the most gifted screen actress of her generation, imho. Other actresses may be "warmer" (Roberts ect), and a few more actresses may be more technically acute (Blanchett ect), but I don't think anyone combines Kidman's gift for invention, technical ability, emotional resonance and a unique screen presence as well. If she was a male actor, her mixture of talents and qualities would see her put on an acting pedestal with the likes of Marlon Brando (who also had as many failures as Kidman, due to his risk-taking nature as an actor). Shirley Maclaine recently wrote in her autobiography that she considered Kidman to be a "genius" as an actor, and at least on par with Meryl Streep (and Maclaine has worked with both). And Kidman has at least 3 or 4 performances to her name that lead me to completely agree with that asesssement.

I think she's well beyond any generic titles like "next Meryl Streep" or the next this or that. Kidman has (usually) excellent technique, but isn't defined by her technical ability, like Streep or Blanchett. She's a singularly unique screen presence. I that's part of the reason she inspires such a divide in opinion. Why she inspires loyalty and disdian in a such heated extremes. It's also the reason that I don't think she's in much danger of disappearing into semi-obscurity, despite this latest wave of "backlash". She's simply too good an actor. It was quite interesting to read some critics, who clearly don't like Kidman much, admit through gritted teeth that she was rather exceptional in Margot At The Wedding. If Kidman simply had the competent, but generic acting qualities/screen presence of a Gwyneth Paltrow (for example), the media backlash would have made her irrelevant a long time ago (as Paltrow has become, since the media decided she was no longer the new Grace Kelly)

She's like Katharine Hepburn. Or a female Brando. Like them, she's going to have to take a lot of unwarranted shit in her lifetime, but she'll go down as probably the most significant star/actress of her era.

I read an interview where Kidman put her acting philosophy in sharp perspective. She said, "To take risks, you have to be willing to fail". Despite all the criticism she takes for her choices, she refuses to change her approach. She's not afraid to fail, but that fearlesness also means her triumphs are arguably greater than most of her peers.

Kidman's closest career analogy isn't with any other actress, ironically enough. I agree with the poster wh said there hasn't really been a star/actress quite like her before .Her closest analogue, imho, is with Marlon Brando, an actor that was first hailed as the great actor of his generation in his early honeymoon period, then went through a period of 18 films in over 10 years, where the films failed either financially or criticallly. During the 1960's, Brando-bashing was a poular media sport, in much thev same way it currently is for Kidman. Critics and media calling him a fat, washed up has-been, whose box office appeal had faded, and who had probably been "overrated" all along. The thing is, that while Brando did have many failures during that period, almost all of them were interesting choices. And many of his performances were similarly daring, if somewhat unappreciated (ie Reflections Of A Golden Eye, One Eyed Jacks, Queimada). Kidman in pretty much the same boat. Doing brilliant, largely unappreciated work in little seen vehicles (Birth, Dogville, Margot At The Wedding), while being mauled by the press for starring in big budget flops.

Brando had the critical and commercial perfect storm of The Godfather to eventually halt the streak of supposed failures. And suddenly, he was the greatest again. Who knows when it'll happen, but eventually Kidman will find herself in a project that's both commercially and critically gangbusters, in which she delivers a knockout performance. I think that's the only way she's going to get some of these monkeys off her back. Critical and commercial success have to come in the same package.


Anonymous said...

Let's face it, she is considered "cold" because she is extremely white, has a porcelain skin, and while she's feminine, sometimes even girly, she has an androgynous body, she's very tall and is very thin and well-toned. She's a cold beauty, yes, but it doesn't mean that she's necessarily a cold person. I think her problem is that in interviews you sometimes realize that she's a bit too self-absorbed, you can see that she must be a nervous and almost insecure person in real life, as opposed to American darlings such as Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston or Kathe Hudson who can get away with anything because they are cute and don't seem to be to interested in artistic films to say the least.
Yes, she should work more in Europe, where people don't bash Isabelle Hupper for being "cold", where people are more interested in different types of films than just mall movies and who admire actresses that are "out there".

Anonymous said...

I again just saw her and Robbie Williams' video for "Somethin' Stupid", their Christmas number 1 (I still can't quite believe she has a UK number 1 single), and I don't think she has ever looked more beautiful. She was 34 at the time.

Whatever she's done to her face since is sad and needless, but ultimately really immaterial when it comes to her work. I really don't think Botox or whatever elese can affect a performance, as acting comes mostly from the eyes.

No other actress this decade can boost a filmography as rich as this one: Moulin Rouge!, The Others, Birthday Girl, The Hours, Cold Mountain, Dogville, Birth, The Interpreter, Fur, Margot at the Wedding and The Golden Compass.

Her only misses in this incredible run - and by misses I mean where she's given a lesser performance, not box office, for who gives a shit what the masses go and watch, they are no real judge (and I'm sorry if that's patronising, but the box office receipts they engender fully attest this) - are The Human Stain, The Stepford Wives and Bewitched. That's only three films gone wrong. (Disclaimer: I have yet to see The Invasion.)

And she's right to have gone to all those promising directors on their sophomore efforts: Jez Butterworth, Stephen Daldry, Jonathan Glazer, Steven Shainberg, Oliver Hirschbiegel, Noah Baumbach. It's obvious that she's an actress driven by auteurlust when she chooses her projects.

What she gets paid for these projects is none of our business. In an ideal world the better qualified someone is, the more they'll get paid. By that standard Nicole Kidman *should* be one of the highest-paid actresses. We shouldn't be concerning ourselves that the studios are making a loss everytime they cast her and pay those sums because there aren't enough people out there to appreciate her work.

The real worry around Nicole Kidman at the moment should be that she has not been racking up the Oscar noms the way we all thought she would have been (namely in 2003 and 2004, and perhaps this year). But, then again, we all know what a fickle circus that is.


ray very eloquently put. It is strange the way the media almost always wants to tear to shreds the most magnetic personalities. biting the hand that feeds them essentially... and getting away with it because there are so many other hands eager to feed ;)

Anonymous said...

Watching again the YouTube clips that Ryansumera provided, it occured to me that part of the handicapped Nicole has faced - besides the so-called "lack of warmth" (and since when were Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, and Katherine Hepburn ever cuddly?) is the fact that she's perceived as being too "regal" on the one hand (and nowadays we seem to like our actresses "down to earth") and yet the problem may be that in fact she is too ordinary. On those Ellen clips she strikes me as being a surprisingly "average" woman. She is not a super-intellectual, she's not college educated, she can't wax eloquent on Bazan or semiotics, speak the language that makes the critics go all soft in the head (and hard in other parts of their anatomy); she doesn't seem "sufficiently intelligent", at least linguistically. She pours her intelligence into her roles, into the explorations she makes to get to the heart of each one. I think the critics would be kinder on her if she was also more "intellectual", whilst ironically the public would love her more if she was more cuddly and warm.

On the other hand, you don't see Julia Roberts dividing opinion this fiercely. I think the metaphor Ray and others have drawn between Kidman and Brando is very, very apt.

And I'm not trying to diss Blanchett (or Winslet, or any other actress), just make the point that the same accusations could be thrown at nearly any actress nowadays - in terms of the cosmetic alterations, the box-office bombs (can we just be honest here and say that most "mainstream" movies SUCK and anyone who tries to go Hollywood nowaday - such pretty paychecks, after all - is inevitably going to make a few stinkers?), etc etc etc. But only with Kidman has it become a spectator sport.

But if Kidman is not a star, in any sense of the word, then would any of us (including the haters) be talking about her at all?

And why don't we direct some of that self-righteous ire away from a woman who has never hurt anyone or committed a crime (so far as I know) and direct a little bit of it towards those who are really deserving, say, our politicians and business leaders, who commit atrocities every day right under our noses?


Anonymous said...

Amen, Nathaniel
and thanks a lot, from a Kidman fan.
I dream she could be nominated as best supporting actress for THE GOLDEN COMPASS...but I can imagine everybody is thinking: why Kidman if we can have Amy Ryan?...poor Amy Ryan, I have nothing against her perf...but it's not the only good female supporting turn we had this year

Mirko S.

Anonymous said...

i prefer kidman in her smaller films give me the portrait of a lady or birth over practical magic,bewitched,batman forever anyday.

i think she is better in these films because she is an actress not a commodity a la roberts or witherspoon or bullock these 3 tend to be the same person in everyfilm witness cheerleader reese in rendition,she never seems plausible out of her legally blonde comfort zone same with bullock when she tried acting in crash she though shouting her lines at top blast worked.

roberts is either really good - closer, pretty woman,erin brockovich,notting hill,my best friends wedding or steel magnolias.

coasting - runaway bride,i love trouble,something to talk about & oceans 11.

bad - full frontal,mona lisa smile,oceans 12 & the pelican brief

or miscast but unfairly criticized mary reilly a forgotten gem imo.

kidman is not happy being the movie star per se sure mr! and the others were hits and she great in them but her studio biggies the invasion,the stepford wives,cold mountain etc she has either seemed lacklustre or miscast yet her small films dogville,fur & birth she seems perfectly at home.

yes the p/surgery went too far and i hope she does not become unemployable a la jessica lange in the future.she is a fine actress and maybe should choose her big budget projects more carefully,i expect her to be miscaast in australiea too.

nat why is cate b the default nom in 00's she has had just as many noms as winslet!!!

Anonymous said...

cate blanchett was never b/office it is the media and studios wo decided kidman was b/office!!

she has to take the big cheques to get the small films done,2 of her best perfs are in the 90's to die for and the portrait of a lady.

i don't see any mannerism in blanchett,streep,kidman or winslet.

i do see they are miscast sometimes though

blanchett notes on a scandal
streep she devil
winslet quills
kidman bewitched

not one of these has ever been huge b/o leave that to cameron,angelina,,drew,sandra,reese,meg and julia.

kidman is an actress who just happens to be a huge star.

Anonymous said...

I can't remember who said it, but 'Nicole Kidman is a movie star who's desperate to be taken seriously as an actress' - and that's a very true and astute assessment of her very long career.

Nicole Kidman is Hollywood's idea of a 'great actress' and it's sold to us everytime that Nicole does an interview and discusses her 'acting' like it's some sort of rare commodity. This she is prepared to do ad-nauseum, like most 'self-professed artists.' She also has a huge Tom Cruise like team working for her to convey this idea, which is very much a celebrity post modernist concept. Frankly she's not that 'great' an actress and she's possessed of an incredibly limited range which to the general cinema audience leaves them cold and unexcited - hence the repeated poor box office performance. To say that it is cool to bash la Kidman is ridiculous! But more and more people are discovering that she just didn't live up to her Oscar promise - which was her finest role. I think the phrase the emperor's new clothes springs to mind.


art is subjective of course but to my mind stating that the Virginia Woolf is her greatest is viewing her career through a very mainstream prism. and that usually --right or wrong-- leads me to believe that the person stating so just doesn't watch or appreciate the fringe stuff. Or just has very Oscar-like taste. Which is fine... but to deny her range is, to my mind, really hard to support once you start investigating the filmography.

I'd place her performances in DOGVILLE, BIRTH, TO DIE FOR, MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, MOULIN ROUGE! and THE OTHERS above her admittedly effective work in THE HOURS without must hesitation. But that's not really the point. Everyone has their favorites but I feel confident in stating that there's a lot of specificity in that character gallery and not a lot of "twins" ---the Moulin Rouge! performance alone has more range within itself (but still coheres) than any of her four nominated competitors that year.

Anonymous said...


I'm a young actress here in the States, and let me just say that I would kill just to get the lead role in films like The Interpreter and Fur. I chose these films on purpose because people think there were "bad" choices. I think if these two roles would have been played by a lesser known actress or one that is not considered great, people would have said wow she's great if she had given the perforance Kidman gave in both films. But she set the standard so high after Dogville and Birth and To die for and The Hours and Moulin Rouge blabla that she's not allowed to be just "great", it's like she has to be phenomenal every single time
Seriously, how many lead roles for women out there and yet some people have the time to criticize her ?

My dream is that one day my performances will be discussed like hers and that I will be as divisive an actor as she is. She's an inspiration for every young actress here in the States who doesn't want to play supporting roles in a bikini and is looking for parts where you can flex your muslces


Anonymous said...


you should check "Bangkok Hilton", an Australian TV movie she did in the eighties. She was phenomenal. One of her best performances. She is a young girl arrested because she's in possession of drugs, and she's sent to jail and sentenced to death. It's a great film, and she confirmed her talent the same year in *Dead Calm", one of her very best perf as well.

Anonymous said...

only a fading actresss would elicit so much "justification" for how good she supposedly is

her only good performances: dogville, others and to die for

even david thomson acknowledges this: that she tries so desperately to want to be the next streep
and yet-something is missing:
call it coldness; call it calculated shrwedness; call it trying far far too hard;

dont underestimate the public sometimes: they may not be able to articulate it but kidman does NOT have "that" which makes her really really GREAT

her film choices are astute. she is competent. she has a great filmography
BUT dont try EVER to put her in the same class
as streep. bergman, bette, hepburn

leave that to blanchett and to linney

just compare linney to kidman
that unassuming grace; that capacity for empathy (which kidman NEVER EVER possesses-you are always watching a performance-not a character); and that warmth!!

i rest my case


overrated ... i happen to think Kidman might be a better actor than Blanchett OR rather, to be more specific, a more compelling one if you're comparing their best work to their best work. Blanchett is more consistent it's true.

And certainly Blanchett is more technically skilled. But there's more to acting than technique. I've never seen Blanchett quite as possessed by a role as I've seen Kidman (and please nobody shout out Hepburn or Dylan --this is impersonation. Grandly fun and entertaining impersonation, true, particularly in the former, but it isn't possession of the soul) And I like my actresses to get a little freaky and overly invested when the films or roles warrant it.

and as much as I love Laura Linney. And I do love love love... I think it's unfair to compare her warmth to Kidman's. It's like saying I love summer and I hate winter! Sure Linney is warmer and more empathetic than Kidman but why does that make her better? Not every actresses should be expected to feel the same to an audience. There's room for all types in the cinema. Diversity is key.

I rest my case too ;)

Glenn Dunks said...

What I find interesting is that nobody (and I mean literally nobody) makes any comment about her performances in big budget movies like Batman Forever and The Peacemaker. I mean, they're nothing spectacular, but it's alright because she wasn't NICOLE KIDMAN then. Now anytime she makes a bigger scaled movie if the movie isn't up to scratch she's TERRIBLE and AWFUL and should never be cast.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Kidman's best handily trumps Blanchett's best, but I'm not really with you on writing off Blanchett's portrayals of Hepburn and Dylan as mere impersonation. I think in both cases, especially the latter, Blanchett manages to open up her character at key points. She didn't carry that through the entire film, though, I'll grant you that.

Beau said...

I'm so thankful you put up this post. Completely and totally agree, no doubt. One of the best actresses we have.

Anonymous said...

It's so subjective, but personally I never find any of her characters believeable - it's all just Nicole with her mouth agape, wispy style of acting, often doing that annoying breathy voice like a bad Monroe imitation. I guess it either grabs you or it doesn't, and obviously the writer of this blob is a huge fan, but to dismiss the majority reaction as a passing fashion is just asinine.
Give me Cate Blanchett, or Judy Davis in any day - her Australian contemporaries are so much more talented than she is. Sure Kidman is one of the best and most successful Hollywood Movie Stars, a graduate of the school of wooden-acting who's managed to carve a much hyped and overrated career through a shit load of publicity. But don't fall for the baloney... her films and her acting bore the hell out of most cinema goers.

Anonymous said...

I have loved Nicole Kidman (and Julia Roberts) since I was a a teenager I am 29 now). in fact teh first two DVDs I ever owned were Moulin Touge and Pretty Woman. howver I must confess i have also jumped on the bash Kidman bandwagon. The Botox, the films and the udeserved huge paychecks. even her blonde hair bothers me. I watched Golden Compass and I found the movie awful and her acting even worse. Also her face was just way too distracting. i hope that The Reader and Australia reddem her.

Anonymous said...

Dreadful, just dreadful! She's a mediocre actress at best. I think a lot of people are taken in her her beauty (pre-botox) and glamour, but her acting ability leaves a lot to be desired... especially now since she's robbed her face of all movement.

The last Kidman film I saw was Fur, which was simply dreadful! There were only 6 people in the cinema and we all started talking about her botoxed face, and ended up shouting out comments to the screen which was the only saving grace (and fun!) of that dreadful, dire, bore of a movie.


jem --it's not asinine to dismiss majority reactions. It's the critics/commentators/pop culture analyzers JOB to have a little perspective... if you can't sometimes question commonly held beliefs as a critic you have just no business writing about the movies.

The "backlash" effect that happens to a lot of stars should be discussed rather than agreed on like a simple lemming. In my thirtysomething years on this planet and in my (no great shakes but relatively solid grasp) of past movie history... I can assure you: this sort of thing plays out ALL the time with actors and especially with actresses.

When everyone loves Nicole Kidman again (and they will eventually probably) everyone will pretend they loved her all along and I call that total bullshit.

It's like everyone acting as if Johnny Depp has always been there favorite actor. I was singing his praises in the very first year of his movie stardom (1990)and it took a looooong time for everyone else to come around and a lot of people questioned his bankability and whatnot for years and years. Now of course he can do wrong. The public changed their opinion about him. But guess what? That public change of opinion does nothing to alter the strength of the work he was doing before they decided the loved him. He's every bit as good in ed wood and donnie brasco and edward scissorhands as he is in sweeney and you didn't see 'GIVE HIM THE OSCAR! fanaticism back then.

I don't believe groupthink grants legitimacy to an opinion. I don't believe in "majority rule" when it comes to art. If I did I'd think Transformers was a masterpiece, or at least the third best film of this year after Spider-Man 3 and Shrek 3.

Anonymous said...

the last couple of comments from jem, mrs mills, south afirca, overrated are all so so true

nicole is annoying as hell
she pretends to an intensity
that breathy wisp to convey anger, revulsion,shock,surprise, even comedy in stepford and bewitched (thats the greatest joke)

we are not talking about technical ability even-thats streep hands down who combines technicality with a grace that always makes her compelling and matter what

its just that u kinda shirk away with distaste every time kidman is on camera-her wanting so hard for you to think that she is a good actress


actually-only small boys and dead people she generates some frisson of excitement.
or a wooden stage-her one good performance for dogville

i remember cringing at her in moulin rouge
where was the unfettered sexualness
and the natural magnetism that should have been satine

thats what i call cold
not the "cold magnetism" of the wonderful dietrich

Anonymous said...

arkan said it well


Anonymous said...

As far as "box office" goes, if you think the "majority decision" is that the "public" has decided Kidman isn't a great actress by not going to her movies, then I don't know what to say about that. The public have not had much taste when it comes to deciding who our great actresses our. If you want to go by majority decision, our greatest living actresses our Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspoon. To the public, that's what a great actress is "supposed" to be. Some they can find lovable (on the other hand, a great actor is not held to such ludicrous restrictions. Robert DeNiro, Daniel Day Lewis and Christian Bale are not "warm" personalities, but no one denies their brilliance as actors based on the fact that they'd rather have a warm beer with Tom Hanks)

Kidman was a happy, glorious fluke. A genuinely great and gifted character actress, who for a short while, could attract large audiences like an actual movie star (Moulin Rouge, Cold Mountain, The Others, The Hours, The Interpreter all made nice money, especially overseas). The public generally doesn't give a shit about great actresses. They want female performers to regurgitate the same warm, fuzzy persona in every movie (Roberts, Diaz, Ryan, Bullock). If "majority reaction" declare Kidman is no longer a great actress, then neither are Blanchett and Winslet, actresses who are paid millions (Blanchett earned 13 million for uber-flop, The Golden Age) to act as leading ladies, who have a litany of "flop" films as well. Box office and public support is a lousy way to judge whether an actor is great or not.

As far as critics are concenered, I don't believe their is any "majority reaction" against Kidman either. Kidman got mostly raves and career best reviews for Margot At The Wedding, and was often singled out for being the best thing in The Golden Compass. So critically speaking, as far as her own performances go, 2007 has been a good year for her (aside from The Invasion, where she got pretty average reviews for her performance).

I believe it's a minority (but a very vocal one) of media/pop culture commentaters and critics that are hellbent on instigating this "backlash" against Kidman.

If she's getting brilliant reviews (as she did for Margot) for her acting, you'll start to hear these "commentaters" muttering about botox or her looks, as if that's supposed to negate the fact that she just got Oscar calibre notices from The New York Times or The LA Times or whomever.

It's almost like smoke and mirrors with some of Kidman's media detractors. If you can talk enough about botox/bad fashion choices/Tom Cruise divorce/ weak box-office, it'll completely distract from the fact that she's given a great performance. It's like a big circus, where Kidman is the ringside attraction.

Kidman is still able to garner brilliant reviews from the majority of critics, because her talent is undeniable. She's been facing "backlash" for at least the past 3 years and in that time, she's managed to give at least 2 performances that have been described by several critics as "career best work" (Margot At The Wedding and Birth). Hardly sounds like a "fading actress" to me. Or an actress that's been "found out" by critics.

I imagine this same circus wlll start again next year. Kidman will come out with a sublime performance in THE READER. A couple of dozen critics will call it a "career best performance" (again). Then "operation take-down Nicole" will being again in earnest. We'll hear about botox yadda yadda, looking plastic yadda yadda, being box office poision yadda yadda. Repeated ad infintum. Till everyone actually forgets that Kidman just gave yet another brilliant, oscar calibre, critically acclaimed performance. Then she'll be roundly ignored during awards season, thanks to all the catty, venomous articles about her looks and lack of box office success, and someone like Cate Blanchett will win the Best Actress Oscar, for impersonating Ronald Reagan.

It'd be funny, if it wasn't so predicatable.


Anonymous said...

A dear friend of mine who works for the BBC describes Ms. Kidman's acting style as 'flat'. Undeniably beneath her beauty and glamour, she lacks cinematic presence and on-screen charisma, and as a result her acting comes across as rather plain and superficial.

We live in an age of spin and hyperbole where terms like 'legend' are massively over used and devalued, especially in Hollywood, which Ms. Kidman is a product of.

Personally, I prefer the warmth, virtuosity, technical adeptness,and humainess of our wonderful British actress, Dame Judi Dench - now there's what you'd call an actress!!!


this conversation is such a head scratcher. it's like there's two distinct camps and no give.

so I'll give this... even if we can debate whether or not she is a "great" actor--That's always up for debate with anyone --I have to say i find it bizarre a notion as, say, the moon being made of cheese or pigs flying or the existence of platypuses to suggest that she has no screen presence. say WHAT?

Anonymous said...

My dear Nathaniel,
No one has suggested that Ms. Kidman has 'no screen presence', just that she is somewhat lacking in that department. The distinction is tremendous. How else would one explain away her poor returns at the box office? People aren't buying tickets to see a Nicole Kidman performance, and if they are, they are probably finding out just how dreadful they are!!! You don't have to be an Oxford scholar to comprehend this.

Anonymous said...

"When everyone loves Nicole Kidman again."

What makes you think they will?

Having seen my fair share of lame Kidman movies or/and some of the more recent box office flops... I'm extremely reluctant to pay to watch anything that she stars in again. One bitten twice shy - besides there are better actresses to watch.

And as a 'critics/commentators/pop culture analyzer' shouldn't you stop living in a bubble and get with the times?

This isn't 2003, you know. Kidman is pretty much done - it's only a matter of time now before she announces that she's taking a break from it all to start a family... She doesn't have much choice considering her box office of the last few years. How many more flops is she to make until she gets a hit?
Sorry Nath, but Cate's the one to watch now.

lylee said...

Geez, folks, when did this turn from a bash-Nic into a bash-Nat session? Let's be civil, please, and simply agree to disagree.

Glenn Dunks said...

Look, I love Cate Blanchett as much as the next guy, but she's had flops too! Elizabeth: The Golden Age? The Missing? The Gift? Even I'm Not There has only made something like $2mil, although that can be put down to the Weinstein's ineptitude.

Mrs Mills, the reason people aren't buying tickets to Kidman movies isn't because everyone suddenly thinks she's the worst actress on the face of the earth like some of you people are claiming. It's because her small arty films like Birth and Dogville are just that. Too small and arty. Doesn't make them any less good or her performances any less revelatory. And her bigger scale movies are just as crummy as most actors. We don't hear about Jamie Foxx being a horrible horrible actor when The Kingdom only makes $50mil, but when Bewitched makes $60mil it's like she's this demon actor who is responsible for third world debt and AIDS. Besides, apparently Olivir Hirschbeigel's original Invasion script was far different and much better than what ended up on screen.

And if anyone ever doubts her presence they need to watch the opera sequence in Birth. if you're not captivated by that then I can't help but feel you are eternally blinded by your hatred.

Anon Ray, it's sad but true, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

here is botox for you, Nicole Kidman's hater

happy now?

defensive nicole kidman's fan


thanks lylee
it's always best to stay civil yes.

but as to me and my "bubble" it is an interesting notion, this, that writers and critics (like myself) should adopt the mass public opinion on any given topic.

I'm not sure what purpose that would serve other than boring everyone to death with nodding heads and vacant stares but there ya go. ;)

could you imagine? you click on over to the film experience for your daily dose of random film musings/obsession and probable actress worship and suddenly its

* only box office blockbusters
* stills from next year's sure to be awesome blockbuster [insert title here]
* how hot jessica alba is
* tv recaps of ugly betty or whatever reality show just aired the night before
* paris hilton even though she isn't an actress
* flippant dismissals of "old" actresses
* and absolutely zero talk of any movie that exists prior to say, 1999 and any of those weird movies that use words at the bottom of the screen.

I'd die of boredom and so would all of you if you chose to keep reading.

I love my bubble.
My bubble loves me.
Sometimes I slap it like Nicole and her Golden Monkey but then I calm it down with loving whispers --I'll never try and puncture you again!

Anonymous said...

Nath, what is that?

Why do you do that? I noticed that you did that to mrs mills before, and she came back to correct you. You blow out of proportion any comments that don't fit in with your viewpoint, rather than try to consider the possibility or understand why her films are bombing at the box office.

My mother's favourite actress is Demi Moore (each to their own) and she tells me that Demi used to be the higgest paid and most sought after actress in Hollywood in late 90s until she bombed repeatedly. Today she's not even on the radar for most people - could Kidman's career be going the same way? Maybe her time is up. Why is that so hard to accept?


sorry if i sound snippy. I really enjoy the conversations in here but this one has been frustrating.

The whole point of my article is that her box office should not matter. this is why i also linked to two other articles that are about this very strange and somewhat american notion that financial success equals talent or artistic achievement.

It only equals money.

So to be countered that "her time is up" because she's had a rough year in the salary to success ratio is maddening. Because the truth, as I see it --i do realize this is all opinion on both sides -- is that this year has been a success for her artistically (I didn't see Invasion so i'm pretending it didn't exist ;))

I'm saying that commerce is not the same as art and a reading of any actors' "popularity" is about as poor a barometer of their contribution to acting as you can find.

I don't think that that is that radical of an idea but maybe it is for many in this age when people are far more likely to be discussing I AM LEGEND's box office take rather than whether or not it's a good movie.

Anonymous said...

Art for Art's sake: That would be acceptable if Ms. Kidman was financing her own attempts at acting and screening them for free in the local parish hall.

However, I did pay £8.50 to see Fur, and what a complete waste of money and time that was. Just dreadful! So you can't really be suprised if people are thoroughly disgusted, and end up expressing their discontent. Nobody ever gives you your money back and apologises for wasting your time for having to endure a bad movie with flat performances.

Anonymous said...

Well, I wasted 2 hours of my life on Mrs Henderson Presents, a dire, trite formulaic piece of TV movie shit in which Judi Dench went through the motions and earned yet another undeserved oscar nomination for being Dame Judi Dench.

That said, I'm not asking for Dench's head on a pike for being terminally tedious (to me) and making a middle of the road oscarbaiters. She's a fine actress, but I find her incredibly boring most of the time (though she was brilliant in Notes On A Scandal, for the first time in a long time). I'd rather watch Kidman stumble through some bizzarre curio like Fur, than watch Dench play another old biddy in a middling costume drama. And I didn't even like Fur. But I find Kidman interesting, even in her failures.

Dench doesn't rock my boat. But she does yours. I'm not going to deny her talent. I'm not going to deny that what she does has a certain appeal to certain people. Just not to me.

Same goes for Kidman. She doesn't appeal to everyone. But she doesn't have to. If y'all love the "warmth and technical adeptness" of Dame Judi, more power to you. I prefer the experimentation, virtousity and psychological weirdness that Kidman often presents in her work.

Different strokes for different folks, and all that.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, you enjoy failures, my dear.

'Mrs Henderson presents' was nominated for 2 Oscars, one of the nominations being for Judi Dench's performance. It won 4 awards and attracted 20 other nominations; BAFTAs, Golden Globes, I can't list all of them, dear.

Now, If you would be so kind to tell me how many Oscar nominations and awards did that dreadful movie, Fur, attract?

Anonymous said...

Obviously, you enjoy undemanding, middlebrow, predictable pap, designed specifically to win awards and tug the sentimental heartstrings of 70 year old academy voters. Step up Judi Dench.

I prefer artistically challenging, risk-taking endeavours that aren't afraid to try something new and say it in a different way. Step up Nicole Kidman.

Artistic expression isn't determined by box office or awards. Though you seem to have some trouble figuring this out. There is more artistic merit in a single frame of FUR, than the entire 2 hour running time of MRS HENDERSON FORMULAICALLY TRIES TO BAG AN OSCAR.

Anonymous said...

You didn't answer my question:

Now, If you would be so kind to tell me how many Oscar nominations and awards did that dreadful movie, Fur, attract?

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Mills,

the question you have not answered is why, if you find Nicole so dreadful, you went ahead and paid your hard-earned money to see Fur anyway? If I'm not interested in an actor or a film I don't spend my money or my time there; but neither do I waste my time bashing the person either. As anon. 10:35 said, different strokes for different folks.

No one FORCED you to spend your money, no one tied you to the chair, no one prevented you from walking out after five minutes to demand your money back, and NO ONE owes you an apology because the film was not up to your liking. As the old saying goes, "let the buyer beware" (or "you buys your ticket, you takes your chances.")

And as it happens I found Mrs Henderson a terribly forgettable effort - and I normally enjoy Dame Judi and Bob Hoskins (another fine actor who gets wasted in a lot of twaddle. In fact, most screen actors nowadays get wasted in a lot of twaddle - there are only so many good screenplays getting the green light, or so it seems, and the choice is either save yourself only for the rare gem that comes along once in a blue moon, or do some work that includes a few stinkers, if you want to work at all.)

Again, the thing of it is, the actors are generally paid up front a certain amount - and the more successful ones may have percentage cuts in their contract if the film makes a profit. So if the film doesn't, the actor doesn't. Simple. But they've already gotten their paycheck up front - which was paid out to them by the producers and the studios. It was not taxpayer dollars - unlike the war our politicians have been waging in Iraq, for instance. And when are we going to get an apology for THAT?


Anonymous said...

Fur got as many Oscar nominations as The Shining (Zero).

In fact, The Shining got nominated for 2 Razzie awards (including worst director for Stanley Kubrick). So Fur was actually better recieved than The Shining, considering it wasn't nodded for any Razzies.

Yet 27 years later, The Shining is regarded as a masterpiece, despite being initially dismissed as a failure.

That's what can happen with films that take risks and dare to be different. They can be re-evaluated. Whose to say in 10 years time, that critical consensus won't declare Fur to be a misunderstood masterpiece, ahead of it's time. It certainly worked for The Shining.

Fur is different enough and daring enough to be re-evaluated at some point.

No matter how many awards and oscars it got nominated for, Mrs Henderson Presents always going to be a forgettable piece of oscarbaiting fluff, that isn't sufficiently interesting or different enough for people to care about at all in 10 or 15 years time. At least by people who care about cinema, Fur stands a much better chance of actually being still discussed and remembered 10 years from now.

Anonymous said...

Zero. Thank you. I rest my case.

Now if you'll forgive me I must rush off to my bridge club.

Incidentally, I'm not here to discuss 'Mrs Henderson presents' as I haven't even seen it, but then again I never brought it up in the first place! Good Day.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but you did bring up Judi Dench as a nice, wholesome alternative to Kidman as a great actress du jour. Mrs Henderson Presents is fairly typical of Dench's work and her film choices, and it's a major film in her career. If you are going to bring up the woman, don't get all pissy when people who actually know what they are talking about decide to discuss her work in regards to said comparison to La Kidman.

But obviously you're not such a huge fan of Dame Judi that you can actually be bothered to watch her in an Oscar nominated performance. If you are going to bang on about "the warmth, technical adeptnessblahblablah" of Dench, one would expect to at least have seen all her oscar nominated performances.

But you seem more interested in paying good money watching the "dreadful Nicole Kidman" in a low budget arthouse curiousity (then whining about it) than watching the glorious Dame Judi in an award winning, oscar nominated period piece.

Shouldn't your priorities straight. Even you obviously don't find Dench as interesting or compelling as Kidman. You may not like Kidman, but you seem drawn to discussing her and watch her films.

Cinesnatch said...

Jem ~

I think there are parallels to Demi Moore and Nicole Kidman's box office muscle. Both of them latched onto several projects in a span of a few years that did really well and drove up their asking price. And the success of those films were based only partially on their presence and acting (if you want to say that is what Moore was doing) verses a Julia Roberts circa early 90's and then again in the late 90's/early 00's, where people were plunking down money to see "a Julia Roberts movie."

Moore is a poor actor (who shows glimpses here and there in her older age of talent, but very minute and not very promising) who played supporting roles in highly successful films like "Ghost" and "A Few Good Men." Those films would have probably been just as successful had they starred Kidman or Julia Roberts for that matter. But, they made Moore a recognizable name. She had a slammin' body, which played a very large role in "Indecent Proposal." "Disclosure" had Michael Douglas and was based on a best-seller. It wasn't until "Scarlett Letter" and "G.I. Jane" that she actually tried to carry a film on both her shoulders. "Scarlett" grossed less than she was paid. "G.I. Jane" actually did okay, but not if you consider all of the money that went into making and promoting it. By then, it was obvious that she wasn't worth her paychecks as a movie star or actress and not even doing a Woody Allen film was going to give her street cred (though, I thought she was funny as a hardcore Jewish convert).

The same could be said about Kidman's career tragectory starting with "Rouge." But, her roles were more important than Moore's and she's a better actor (in just better films). However, she was making films that people wanted to go see, not necessarily because of her. She continued to do the off-kilter material that she's been doing for years (and moreso, because she was more respected and more in demand). Unfortunately, her big budget projects were clunkers and not even her performances could save them. Had the "Stepford Wives" and "Bewitched" had better screenplays, she probably would have hit them out of the park.

You can't say the same for "Scarlett" and "G.I. Jane," because Moore was incapable of stepping up period.

Kidman's not an actress that you can plug into a film, just add water and expect a blockbuster (who is really?). She's not always great, but at a minimum she's adequate even in awful material like "Practical Magic." I think her asking price is going to continue to go down, but she's built up such a long line of (at the very least) interesting films and I think she will have Streep-level admiration that will take well into her 60's.

Darryl S said...

Mrs. Mills,

If Oscar and awards are the barometer of what you consider as quality, so good for you. But implying that just because a movie is not good because it doesn't have award nominations is just silly.

A lot of great movies were not nominated for Oscar. If you use Oscar as quality; I guess you will think "The Green Mile" and "Chocolat" masterpieces.

Anyway, I am not attacking you for your personal taste. But calling a movie dreadful because it got no Oscar nomination..sigh. Different strokes for different people.

Agree to disagree.

And Nicole rocks! (I like Judi Dench also, so don't poison my tea!)

Anonymous said...

Don't be a tiresome child now and a bore.

Of course, I've seen Dame Judi Dench perform, many times on the London stage, as the Duchess of Malfi; as Adriana in Comedy of Errors; and of course as Lady Macbeth. Like her awards, her performances are too numerous to list.

I haven't seen all her films but I do understand that she's had six Oscar nominations (with one win). Not bad for a real actress.

How many Oscars and nominations does your Hollywood Movie Star, Ms Kidman have?

Now I must run , as you've made me late. Bye bye dears.

lylee said...

If we're going to nonsequitur to other allegedly "overrated" actresses, all I can say is...if anyone ever takes a hatchet to Laura Linney the way some of you all are doing to poor ol' Kidman (whom I respect as an actress, though she leaves me kinda cold)...


course, I have a feeling I'll have more supporters and fewer haters on the Linney front. Even if she doesn't have any Oscars in her bag.

The idea of number of Oscars being a yardstick to judge an actor's "greatness," by the way risible there's just not much to say about it. (Though for the record, doesn't Kidman have as many Oscars as Dench? And doesn't Hilary Swank have more than both of them?)

Anonymous said...

Are you sure you didn't just look up Dench's list of stage credits on the internet, like you looked up the award nominations for Mrs Henderson Presents, before admitting you actually hadn't seen it?

Not sure how much of what you say is believable at all (especially seeing as how your Dench fandom seems slightly exaggerated). Maybe you haven't even seen FUR, but you read some bad reviews and decided to to claim you'd seen it, just to make your critque of Kidman look a bit more credible. Makes more sense than you actually paying money to watch a tiny, weird film at the cinema, starring an actress you've professed to majorly disliking for quite awhile.

And you seem to be insinuating that Kidman is a "Hollywood movie star", therefore not a "real actress". Kidman is highly, stage trained actress, and has been since the age of 13. While she may not have as many stage credits as Dench, but the few times she has acted on stage, she's won major awards for her stage acting (since awards is all you seem to care about). That includes a stage adaptation of Steel Magnolias in 1989 on the Sydney stage in Australia and The Blue Room In The West End. Where she won *yawn* awards and stuff.

Kidman has been winning major "awards" for her acting, since she was an 18 year old, long before she was on Hollywood's radar. She won once and was nominated the AFI (the Australia version of Emmy/Oscar) three before she was 22. She's won acting awards for stage, film and television. By some distance, in the late 1980's, she was the most critically acclaimed young actress in Australia.

She's always been an "actor", before she was a movie star. She's one of the few that's both.

Drew said...


I hope Mrs. Mills is not late for her bridge since her 12.27 post, she still had time to check other people's responses and she stated she had to rush.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that that is that radical of an idea but maybe it is for many in this age when people are far more likely to be discussing I AM LEGEND's box office take rather than whether or not it's a good movie.

QFT, and it *isn't*.

Nobody ever gives you your money back and apologises for wasting your time for having to endure a bad movie with flat performances.

Like I Am Flat Shitty Will Smiff Like You Never Seen Befo'? Thank god this is also the age of the close friend w/ the bootleg so you don't have to sneak into another theatre.......hint hint.


Mrs. Mills is putting us on people. We'll be invited up for that poisoned tea anytime soon ;)

i do admire creative trolling.

but this thread i should probably block from new comments now that it has descended into bloody threats (lylee... no kidding) and name calling.

but it has been amusing to read how many people hate "cold" actresses (i.e. cerebral and unconcerned with hugging the audience) and you kinda wonder what changed from the early days of cinema until now. I mean we had strong strong bitch goddesses back then that the public loved. Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, etcetera... anyone wanna diss these legends because they weren't cuddly?

Anonymous said...

Vinci - Thanks for your lovely reply. I agree Nicole is slightly better than Demi (don't let my mother hear me say that).

Wow! There's so much hostility on this thread.

Lylee - I also love Laura Linney, especially the sound of her voice - I could listen to her for hours and hours.

Mrs Mill - real or not - You're more than welcome to drop by to The Awful Truth where they are less anal about Nicole Kidman...

Thanks Nath

Anonymous said...

You know I just feel Nicole Kidman lots of times for me comes across that she tries way too hard. Most of her movies it looks like she is trying so hard to show that she this "daring actress" that it looks way too labored.

Not saying she is bad or anything maybe just not my cup of tea, but
just from the poster of Margot at the Wedding I can see that she has had so much work done she almost looks like a creature.

Her glacialness works best in movies like Moulin Rouge, The Others and Birthday Girl. But she has really had some real downright awful performances in movies like Batman Forever, Eyes Wide Shut, and Billy Bathgate.

The weird thing is with her is that she doesn't strike as someone who really knows how to connect or get the heart of things both acting or non-acting. I felt her Oscar accpetance speech was pretty disgusting to say the least and quite snobby saying "Russell Crowe told me not to cry" when she went up there. I almost lost my supper when I heard that. I just don't find much sincerity in her.

I admit I am compelled but it is odd I just find her so insincere it is quite facinating.