The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Kate Winslet

Last week, we took a look at the career of martial arts maestro Donnie Yen. This week’s subject may not be exactly a person you’d associate with being a bad-ass, but one look at her diverse filmography and it’s clear this is a lady with some serious guts…

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet kicks-ass. For twenty-years now, Winslet has been one of the most consistently reliable actresses in the business. From her big breakout with TITANIC, Winslet’s refused to be boxed-in to any kind of role. Consider this – after TITANIC Winslet was offered her pick of scripts. What did she do? She went off and made a pair of art-films, one of which, HOLY SMOKE (by Jane Campion) went almost totally unseen but ranks among her strongest work. Sure, she came back to Hollywood, but always on her own terms, splitting her time between Tinseltown and Europe, where she’s tackled all manner of parts.

If Winslet had paid attention to how she was seen after TITANIC, she probably would have went on to do period piece after period piece. Instead, she had the guts to pursue the work that interested her, whether it was in supporting parts (ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, QUILLS), on TV (HBO’s MILDRED PIERCE), prestige projects (REVOLUTIONARY ROAD) or even the occasional action flick, with her subverting her image in this week’s TRIPLE 9 as a murderous mob boss.

The result of Winslet’s excellent nose for material and artistic integrity is a career that’s second-to-none, with her racking-up Oscar nominations (currently seven nominations and one win) and critical raves. By this time next week, Winslet may well have made her way to the Oscar podium a second time for her part in STEVE JOBS. Barely forty, Winslet’s already had a career for the ages and she shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon – thank goodness.

Her Best Work

OK talkbackers – let’s see what you’ve got. While ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is my favorite film of Winslet’s, I maintain she did some of her best-ever work in James Cameron‘s TITANIC. Now, I know this is a film a lot of people love to hate. Granted, it is highly overpraised. There’s no way it deserved to win best picture/director at the ’98 Oscars. However, Winslet is absolutely magnetic as Rose, the pampered aristocrat who falls in love, becomes a woman and faces death and loss over the course of the titular ship’s infamous journey. This is a true star part if ever there was one, and I maintain that TITANIC would have never caught-on the way it did were it not for her dazzling performance (as well as Leo’s I should add). And ya know – it’s not easy to make lines like “sketch me like your fancy french girls Jack” work either. Just sayin’.

Her Most Overrated Film

Winslet’s win for THE READER always seemed like a kind of joke via the Academy. A few years before winning the Oscar for her part as a Nazi war criminal, Winslet sent herself up on Ricky Gervais‘ Extras, saying that she was focusing on doing Holocaust films because they always won Oscars. Then, Winslet actually goes ahead and does a Holocaust movie and bam – she won! There’s no doubt Winslet deserves an Oscar, but not for the highly uneven, if well-intentioned THE READER. I mean, she plays an illiterate Nazi statutory rapist. Not exactly subtle, is it?

Her Most Underrated Film

Todd Field is a magnificent director. While he’s only made two movies, IN THE BEDROOM and LITTLE CHILDREN, no one can deny he’s a visionary. That said, he makes difficult, controversial films, and LITTLE CHILDREN, with its themes of adultery and paedophilia, went largely unseen. Winslet managed to score an Oscar-nomination for her part as an often unlikable housewife engaged in a torrid affair with her neighbour (Patrick Wilson) and it’s a shame she didn’t win – all due respect to Helen Mirren for the respectable THE QUEEN. If you haven’t caught this one, it’s well-worth checking out.

Her Best Scene

Winslet is up for another Oscar this year for her turn in STEVE JOBS as the titular character’s right-hand woman Joanna Hoffman. She’s really the heart-and-soul of the film, serving as the closest thing Jobs has to a conscience, and nowhere is this more clear than in the wonderful scene where she pleads, and then orders, him to do-right by his neglected daughter.

Her Five Best Films


Up Next

Quite rightly, Kate Winslet is always in-demand, with her recently signing-on to co-star with Will Smith in this fall’s highly touted Oscar hopeful COLLATERAL BEAUTY. Is yet another Oscar-nomination in the cards for Winslet? Quite possibly I’d say.


About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.