Kate Winslet has been one of the biggest movie stars in the world for over 20 years now, ever since she achieved overnight success as the female lead in James Cameron’s Titanic, one of the highest-grossing and most unforgettable movies ever made.
Like her co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, Winslet has risen to become a huge star, with so much passion for the craft. She always strives to give the audience something great. It doesn’t always work out that way in the movie business, sadly, but Winslet has certainly brought fans some fantastic films. Which are her best? Well, thanks to Rotten Tomatoes, we can take a look at some of her career highlights to date.
10 Little Children (80%)
Just two years shy of her actual Oscar win for The Reader, Kate Winslet was nominated for Best Actress for her turn as Sarah Pierce in the drama Little Children. It’s based on the novel by acclaimed author Tom Perrotta, but the movie wasn’t a straight translation of the book.
Instead, Perrotta collaborated with director Todd Field to find a way to tell the story in a completely different way and find new avenues to explore with the material. Little Children isn't just a beautiful movie, it’s an intelligent one that will stick with you long after the credits roll.
9 Jude (81%)
The talent behind the scenes of this film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure is pretty impressive. It was directed by the iconic Michael Winterbottom, who has helmed three films that have competed for the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, while the screenplay was written by Hossein Amini, who has gone to script such acclaimed literary adaptations as Drive and The Two Faces of January (which was also his directorial debut) in the years since.
Kate Winslet starred alongside Christopher Eccleston in the movie, and both put in the fantastic performances fans would expect of the accomplished pair.
8 Finding Neverland (82%)
This story of how playwright J.M. Barrie came up with the Peter Pan story was based on a play called The Man Who Was Peter Pan, although it’s fair to say that Finding Neverland is a better title. Johnny Depp plays Barrie as he encounters a family that would go on to inspire the characters of Peter Pan.
Kate Winslet stars alongside him as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, the mother of the boys that would influence the creation of Peter Pan. The stories behind how stories were written aren’t often that exciting, but this is a rare exception to that rule.
7 Contagion (84%)
Movies about viral outbreaks are among the scariest, because whereas a zombie apocalypse is unlikely to happen, a deadly virus escaping into the air and spreading like a wildfire is actually quite plausible.
Steven Soderbergh directed this modern take on a viral outbreak movie, which was an ensemble piece starring such A-listers as Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, and, of course, Kate Winslet. This is sort of a Bourne-style take on a medical thriller, even recruiting The Bourne Ultimatum co-writer Scott Z. Burns for scripting duties.
6 Steve Jobs (86%)
It’s a real shame that this biopic of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs wasn’t a bigger box office success, because it was brilliantly made. Michael Fassbender plays Jobs spectacularly as a complex, arrogant, and deeply flawed tech mogul, while Danny Boyle’s minimalist direction keeps the focus squarely on the cast’s terrific performances.
Kate Winslet provided strong support as Jobs’ confidant Joanna, developing an engrossing working relationship with her co-star Fassbender. The real star is Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay, which shows us Jobs’ whole life across just three of the most important days of his life (each of them product launches).
5 Titanic (89%)
If Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet didn’t have palpable on-screen chemistry, there’s no way Titanic would’ve been as successful as it was.
The second half of the movie is all action as the ship goes down, but the audience would have had no emotional attachment to the sinking if they hadn’t just spent an hour and a half following an affluent socialite engaged to marry the wrong guy as she fell in love with a peasant who snuck aboard the ship.
4 Heavenly Creatures (92%)
This was the movie that put Kate Winslet onto Hollywood’s radar. It’s an early work by Peter Jackson, when he was known as the splatter guy, not as the Middle-earth guy, based on the true story of New Zealand’s infamous 1954 Parker-Hulme murder case.
The case shook New Zealand so much that there have been books and movies made about it for the past half a decade. The focus of the film’s narrative is on the relationship of the two girls concerned, with Winslet and Melanie Lynskey playing them and oddly humanizing them.
3 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (93%)
Visionary director Michel Gondry and surrealist screenwriter Charlie Kaufman collaborated on this dark, original, ultimately human head-trip about relationships. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is arguably the best movie about breakups ever made. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet star as a couple who fall in love, fall out of love, and break up.
Carrey is so heartbroken that he recruits an experimental new company to remove her from his memories. Something goes wrong and he ends up trapped inside his own head with his heartbreak. It’s a very unusual movie, but it’s also grounded in some very real emotions.
2 Hamlet (95%)
In this big-screen adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Kate Winslet played the iconic role of Ophelia. She begins the story as a maid, but she plays the royalty she works for like a fiddle and ends up getting exactly what she wants.
This is why the character was the namesake for Jordan Peele’s pastiche of Alexa in his film Us – Ophelia is someone who appears to be a passive servant, but is really the one in charge. Unsurprisingly, this movie version of Hamlet was written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, Hollywood’s go-to guy for Shakespeare, who also starred in the title role.
1 Sense and Sensibility (98%)
Ang Lee has directed all kinds of movies – martial arts epics, contemplative social dramas, comic book blockbusters, and not to mention his new movie where Will Smith fights a clone of himself – but surprisingly, one of his finest works is a Jane Austen adaptation.
Sense and Sensibility is the definitive on-screen translation of Austen’s classic story, drawn from a screenplay by Emma Thompson, who also stars in the film alongside Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet and is often overlooked for her screenwriting abilities. Sense and Sensibility was such a big hit that it led to a surge of Jane Austen adaptations and similar period dramas.