New York Times Magazine has featured Nicole on the cover of their new issue focusing on the Year’s Best Actors. These actors have done some horror shorts.
NICOLE KIDMAN: THE POSSESSED
She is overtaken by a beast within.
“We had one take, because once the eggs and the flour and the milk were used, it was going to go all over her and all over her hair, and so she played this for three minutes straight. In those three minutes, you could see all the changes — from frustration to possession to orgasmic experience.” Floria Sigismondi
The truth of the matter is that Nicole Kidman could make the list of great performers in just about any year, for just about any role. She is always interesting, never not surprising and consistently unnerving, even when the movies fall short. In 2017 her most-heralded work was on television, in the Northern California HBO potboiler “Big Little Lies,” where she played a supercapable professional turned stay-at-home mom and steadfast friend who was also the victim of violent domestic abuse. The zone where normalcy collides with extremity — where high comedy and psychological terror keep company — is her sweet spot.
What makes her big-screen work this year — in “The Beguiled” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” — even more astonishing is that she brought that sweet spot with her, infusing those movies with an element of vitality they would otherwise have lacked. Both of them are hothouse blossoms, exercises in sensibility for directors (Sofia Coppola and Yorgos Lanthimos, respectively) with very particular agendas. “The Beguiled” remakes a pulpy early-’70s study in sexual hysteria into an arch melodrama of beleaguered femininity. As the headmistress of a school full of Southern belles who welcome a wounded Yankee into their midst, Kidman is an avatar of Victorian womanhood. Her character is also the only one to understand how absurd the situation is and to grasp the raw currents of power and lust that surge under the decorous surface.
Kidman herself disrupts the film’s decorum, much as she complicates the mechanical allegory of Lanthimos’s film. Everyone else in “Sacred Deer” is slotted into a carefully measured box, working in the service of what is essentially a literary conceit. A young man places a curse on a modern, upper-middle-class family, who must contemplate a horrible crime if they wish to break it. While the other actors obey the director’s fairy-tale strictures, Kidman behaves like a real person. All of the film’s moments of genuine emotion, which means real humor as well as authentic terror, belong to her. A.O.S.