Kate Winslet is a force to be reckoned with, whether she is starring in a blockbuster or a modest, challenging film. The Academy Award recipient and seven-time nominee is a juggernaut of talent who delivers sincere performances in every film she undertakes.
Her portrayal of a lovelorn London columnist in this Nancy Meyers comedy exemplified her ability to captivate audiences with her abrupt delivery and penetrating gaze. This part served as preparation for her portrayal in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
1. The Other Boleyn Girl (2013)
In this black comedy based on Yasmina Reza’s play, Winslet plays one of two dysfunctional mothers whose petty idiosyncrasies are the source of many of the film’s laughs. The movie earned her several Best Actress nominations at some of the world’s most prestigious festivals.
She’s not just a pretty face, either. Winslet is a fearless actress, and she takes on challenging roles with a gleeful sense of defiance.
She may be a natural for period pieces, but she’s also an exceptional contemporary actress. She can wrestle her characters away from their historical frames, and her boldness helps reshape our view of them. Even when she’s playing a gritty detective or an ill-fated mother, her performance is utterly convincing. Her latest HBO miniseries, Mare Sheehan, proves that she’s still one of the most versatile actors working today.
2. The Danish Girl (2013)
Winslet is a master of all kinds of movies, but she shines the brightest in dark, psychological dramas. She embodies the deranged in director Todd Haynes’s Depression-era opus Carnage and plays a woman teetering on the edge of madness in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet as Ophelia, her most inspired portrayal to date.
Her natural beauty makes her ideal for period pieces, and that’s clear in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility where she stars as the spontaneous Marianne Dashwood falling for cloistered paleontologist Charlotte Gainsbourg.
This gomovies film, inspired by a true story, paved the way for Winslet’s breakout role. In Peter Jackson’s exotic, reimagined take on the tale of two best friends who slip into their own fantasy land as a form of escapism, she’s unnervingly convincing. She also narrates the documentary The Sunshine Boy. Both films are powerful and illuminating.
3. The Monuments Men (2013)
Taking a step away from big-budget blockbusters, Winslet starred in this quiet film about the life of Mary Anning, a real-life fossil collector and paleontologist. Director Sam Mendes tapped into her ability to shape dynamic characters that transcend their scripts.
After her acclaimed turn in Titanic, Winslet went on to star in this drama about a disenchanted English mother who packs up her daughters and leaves for Morocco. Gillies MacKinnon’s adaptation of Esther Freud’s 1970s novel highlighted Winslet’s free-spirited side.
Todd Haynes’s film took a much more meek approach to Mildred than Joan Crawford’s Oscar-winning portrayal, but it was a worthy effort nonetheless. Winslet’s chemistry with Guy Pearce as Monty, the playboy she fancies herself in love with, scorches the screen. She also narrated this nature documentary about our ocean’s irreplaceable treasures. The Deep Sea is another one of Winslet’s best movies to date.
4. Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
It’s easy to forget that Winslet started out on the rom-com fringes. But in director Todd Haynes’s hands, her meek British society columnist is capable of conjuring sexual allure. Even clad in dowdy brown dresses, she’s utterly spellbinding as Mildred, a woman who’s tired of her crumbling marriage and embarks on a journey to Morocco.
She’s backed by a stellar cast in this movie that’s essentially Snow White meets The Huntsman. Despite a few cliches, this is still one of her most recognizable roles. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s a great film to see what made Kate Winslet so popular in the first place. She earned an Oscar nomination for this one. But she also got nods for Revolutionary Road (a fine study of contemporary suburban rot) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
5. The Impossible
After Titanic, Winslet proved her range in a variety of films. In this adaptation of Esther Freud’s novel, she plays a spiritually-seeking mother who decamps to Morocco with her children. Though her character isn’t given much dialogue, she carries the film with her presence.
With the recent pandemic making Contagion feel terrifyingly real, this Steven Soderbergh thriller is worth revisiting. Winslet’s brusque delivery of cutting lines and piercing glances remind us that there is looseness writhing beneath her false composure.
Despite receiving lukewarm reviews from critics, this movie is a must-watch. Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio reunite after their work in Revolutionary Road for this film about a troubled marriage that is doomed to self-destruct. It is one of Winslet’s most compelling performances. Her ability to convey the nuances of this meek woman is a reminder of how talented she really is.