In Contention


Kate Winslet: the greatest actress of her generation?

Posted by · 3:54 pm · September 28th, 2008

Kate WinsletAt nearly 33 years old (eight days and counting) and with five Academy Award nominations under her belt, Kate Winslet may just be the greatest actress of her generation. Her work has not yet revealed any limitations.  Like Meryl Streep, she offers an authenticity in her work, even the lesser films.  She seems incapable of uttering a false line.  She defines authenticity at every turn.

Her work in “Titanic” transcended the material, a shoddy screenplay that saw her running about the doomed boat making decisions about what to do next, and I’ll be damned if Winslet did not make it work. In the hands of a lesser actress, the performance, and perhaps the role, would have come across as silly, but she made a character out of Rose we dared to care about.

There was heat between Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio on the screen.  We believed the love, we believed the devotion, and she did this at a very young age. Earlier still she had gone toe-to-toe with Emma Thomson and Alan Rickman in “Sense & Sensibility,” earning an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress. Further back, you’ll witness chilling work in Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” and one sees a major actress developing before our very eyes.

Equally at home in large Hollywood films like or indie productions, such as the under-appreciated “Holy Smoke,” Winslet consistently brings great work to the screen. Perhaps her finest performance to date came in the wonderful love story “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” in which she inhabited a restless spirit Jim Carrey falls hard for. He tries to remove her vibrance from his memory, but he finds, as does the audience, that she is worth keeping there, warts and all.

I thought she Winslet riveting in “Little Children,” though saddled with an on-screen partner that prevented any true chemistry in the severely limited Patrick Wilson. While I believed in her failed marriage, I did not believe the affair at all.  But Jackie Earle Haley stole the film from the entire cast and, oddly enough, the two of them were seen on the screen the very same year in the dreadfully received “All the King’s Men.”  Winslet was the lone bright spot.

This year we have “Revolutionary Road,” which looks terrific from the materials we’ve been allowed.  The performance could land Winslet yet another nomination for Best Actress, and maybe the award itself — finally. The trailer looks wonderful, and both Winslet and DiCaprio (united again) are rumored to be at the top of their game in the picture.  Winslet may even have a double-dip opportunity if “The Reader” finds its way to screens this year.

Is there anything she cannot do? I see in her the same innate genius I see in Meryl Streep, that ability to tackle any role with diverse precision.

Is there anyone in her age group even close?  Tell us in the comments below!




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52 responses so far

  • 1 11-30-2010 at 10:15 pm

    Film Freak said...

    Love Winslet’s work but I admittedly have grown a bit weary of her acting as of late. I don’t know but what I used to find entrancing 5-10 years ago has become boring. Is it just me? Anyway, I still will watch anything she’s in because she guarantees a solid performance & one where I can completely & entirely believe she IS that character. I just wish she would challenge herself & the audience a bit more & pick more diverse material. Still, I love most of what she does & she can make me feel more than most every other actor working nowadays.

    Nicole Kidman I appreciate but I feel she strongly lacks versatility and unfortunately can’t compete with the likes of Streep, Winslet & Blanchett in the sheer range & quality of performance. She WAS fabulous in To Die For, I think she deserves an Oscar for that role over her one note performance in the Hours. Her choices in roles also disappoints me and isn’t nearly as intelligent & varied as Winslet’s.

    Cate I agree with most on here is fabulous. I regretfully haven’t seen all of her work so I’m unable to commit to any sound decisive “best actress of her generation” title, however, what I have seen her in she really is powerful & steals the show. She is an incredibly talented actor who could very well churn out a career equal to that of Streep. She seems to be doing well across the board-in her personal life, on screen & on stage (jealous of those able to catch a glimpse of her Blanche DuBois-I heard it was phenomenal).

    Naomi Watts I don’t see anything in. Her acting seems stilted and fake to me. She is someone I wouldn’t even consider with the above company.

    Samantha Morton is an actor I am not familiar with but thanks to those above me for the recommendations, I will certainly give her a look see.

    Hilary Swank I can’t stand. I’m still confused why she won an Oscar for Million Dollar Baby when she gave a one dimensional performance I couldn’t believe for a second. And I won’t even mention the horrible Amelia! blech! I was embarrassed for her!

    Guess we’ll have to wait & see who takes this title. I will forever be a fan of Meryl’s and don’t see ANYONE of any generation surpassing Meryl’s successes. I think her mantle will be easily present for the next 100 years of film. So far, Hepburn, Davis & Streep are in a league of their own. I wonder if the aforementioned have what it takes to join the group of those 3 ladies’ genius?

    Interesting discussion, though, enjoyed it.

  • 2 8-14-2012 at 9:52 pm

    Georges said...

    I adore Kate Winslet and I do consider her as the Greatest Actress of a Her Generation. In every role she’s in she embodies the character making me sometimes forget that she’s an actress. She can easily come across the emotions that you are supposed to feel but they’re not one dimentional at all:

    1. Heavenly Creatures – innocence and madness
    2. Sense and Sensibility – trust and despair
    3. Hamlet – beauty and madness
    4. Titanic – love and courage
    5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – oh dear I don’t know where to start with this one, you hate her, then you love her, then you adore her, then you hate her again, then uou love her..(makes you think you personality know the character because you emotions are easily affected!)
    6. Little Children – curiosity and the feel of freedom
    7. Revolutionary Road – I’ll go as far as considering the film as the best of all time; and the PERFORMANCE is SUPERB! She makes you hate her but she also makes you wanna understand her at the same time! Arrrg.
    8. The Reader – I think she should have won on the Revolutionary but darn that ‘court scene’ makes me wanna think thins over.
    9. Contagion – Gwyneth’s over acting pales in comparison to the minimalist and real life job Kate pulled in this movie
    10. Carnage – same thing for Jodie here. Makes me think they’re all trying to overpower Kate’s charisma on screen by over the top acting.

    I acknowledge Cate Blanchette’s acting but she makes me think of Meryl Streep evrytime I watch her. There is just too much ‘Meryl’ in the way she move and talk. She just doesn’t have that ‘uhh’ to make her different from the other actors -aspiring actors-.

    I’m amazed that no one mentioned Helena Boham Carter here – she’s a bit old – yes, but so as Meryl Streep and Emma Thopmson. I do think she’s great though.