Back before Peter Jackson became obsessed with J.R.R. Tolkein, he made this intimate tale rich in fantasy but grounded in reality, about a couple of romantically unstable school girls who commit murder. Winslet played the patrician extrovert with frightening intensity.
1995 – “Sense and Sensibility”
Winslet tackled a headstrong romantic of a different type, Marianne Dashwood, in Ang Lee’s take on the Jane Austen classic. Lee described Winslet’s contribution to the film as “all fire and passion,” adding that “sometimes you had to restrain her a bit.”
1997 – “Titanic”
Part disaster movie, part star-crossed romance, James Cameron’s epic about the doomed passenger liner paired Leonardo DiCaprio and Winslet as a struggling artist and an aristocrat hopelessly in love. Swooning auds propelled the pic to an all-time B.O. high, and it claimed 11 Oscars.
1998 – “Hideous Kinky”
In Gillies MacKinnon’s heartbreaker, Winslet plays a reckless young mother who takes her daughters to Morocco “on some strange voyage of self-discovery,” explains the actress. “What she was doing was basically trying to disappear a little bit, and escape her own life.”
2004 – “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
In Michel Gondry’s fanciful sci-fi yarn about a couple who seek to strip their memories of their tumultuous romance, Winslet displays a unique variation on the femme fatale. Playing opposite Jim Carrey, her Clementine is sexy, impulsive, even dangerous.
2006 – “Little Children”
In Todd Field’s adaptation of Tom Perotta’s novel about suburban malaise, Winslet plays a reluctant soccer mom stuck in a passionless marriage. In one telling scene, her character relates to Madame Bovary’s dilemma between a life of misery or the struggle against it. “She chooses to struggle,” says Winslet. “She fails in the end, but there’s something beautiful and even heroic in the struggle.”
2008 – “Revolutionary Road”
Based on a modern classic by Richard Yates, this reunion with “Titanic” co-star DiCaprio pairs a would-be novelist trapped by his Madison Avenue job and a housewife whose ennui is so acute that quixotic escape is the only option.
2008 – “The Reader”
This Stephen Daldry drama, based on author Bernhard Schlink’s bestselling novel, sees Winslet play an illiterate German who embarks on an illicit affair with a teenage boy, who eventually discovers the harrowing secret of her Nazi past. Winslet won a long-overdue Oscar.
2011 – “Mildred Pierce”
Winslet does the miraculous job of bringing fresh dimension to a part immortalized by Joan Crawford, who won an Oscar for the 1945 version of James Cain’s novel about a self-made woman who spoils her daughter rotten and pays the price. The HBO mini, directed by Todd Haynes, earned Winslet an Emmy.