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Top 10 Kate Winslet Performances

VO: Emily Brayton
Script written by Michael Wynands No matter what the role, in our eyes Kate Winslet can really do no wrong. Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Kate Winslet Performances. For this list, we’ll be choosing the roles that display the full range and acting prowess of this Academy Award winner, as opposed to the quality of the films themselves. In other words, we based our choices on those performances that show off this actress at her finest and/or most memorable. Special thanks to our users Jesús M. Soto González, Amanda Levesque, drewbrown,, Deathmatch1959, Jedimperial96, and sarahjessicaparkerth for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at

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Top 10 Kate Winslet Performances

No matter what the role, in our eyes Kate Winslet can really do no wrong. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Kate Winslet Performances.

For this list, we’ll be choosing the roles that display the full range and acting prowess of this Academy Award winner, as opposed to the quality of the films themselves. In other words, we based our choices on those performances
that show off this actress at her finest and/or most memorable.

#10: Nancy Cowan
"Carnage" (2011)

Two sets of parents are forced into an uncomfortable meeting after their children get into a playground fight in this very black comedy. The conversation between the two couples starts off being polite and civil, but eventually devolves into, well, carnage. The acting of the four main characters is really put into focus here since all of the action takes place in one setting, a Brooklyn apartment, on a single day. Kate seems to have a great time portraying Nancy Cowan, the mother of the boy who attacked the other with a stick. Though she starts off seemingly reasonable and cordial, by the film’s conclusion she has become increasingly intoxicated, and with it, much more belligerent. Quite the transformation!

#9: Young Iris Murdoch
"Iris" (2001)

Kate received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a younger incarnation of this titular character. Kate’s role in this film takes place in a series of flashbacks to the 1950s when Murdoch was a young academic who eventually ends up teaching at Oxford. In stark opposition with her older self in the movie, portrayed by Judi Dench, young Iris is self-confident and charismatic, not to mention sexually bold. In the present day, we see that Iris’ life has been sadly altered by Alzheimer's disease so that the vivacious young woman that Winslet plays seems to have been completely lost – but thanks to a performance like this, she’s certainly not forgotten.

#8: Juliet Hulme
"Heavenly Creatures" (1994)

Long before The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson co-wrote and directed a crime drama about two murderous teenagers – which also happened to be Kate Winslet’s big screen debut. Not only was this Kate’s first movie, it was actually the first movie role that she had ever auditioned for – now that’s impressive! Based on a true story, “Heavenly Creatures” sees two young girls befriend one another and creating an elaborate fantasy world that causes their parents to attempt to end their intense friendship. Winslet’s slightly manic sincerity is both frightening and compelling, so it’s no surprise that this role jump-started her career.

#7: Marianne Dashwood
"Sense and Sensibility" (1995)

There’s just something about Kate Winslet that makes her seem like a shoe-in to act in a Jane Austen adaptation - she looks like she was meant to live in earlier centuries. In this 1995 version of “Sense and Sensibility,” Kate plays Marianne, the second and more impulsive of the doomed Dashwood sisters. In the novel, Marianne is honestly kind of insufferable, but Kate’s endearing portrayal of her as a dewy eyed romantic makes her a much more sympathetic figure. Winslet’s work in this movie garnered her critical acclaim as well as her first Academy Award nomination.

#6: Joanna Hoffman
"Steve Jobs" (2015)

In the much talked about biopic about the infamous Apple CEO, Kate plays the feisty marketing exec who acts as the moral compass for the titular Steve Jobs. You wouldn’t imagine an A-list actress like Kate Winslet having to beg for a role, but she pulled out all the stops to be cast as Joanna Hoffman, going as far as buying a wig and sending a photo of herself to the film’s director to prove she could look like the real-life Joanna. Kate pulls off Joanna’s Polish accent perfectly all while keeping up with Aaron Sorkin’s signature rapid-fire dialogue. And in case you were wondering; yes, she was nominated for an Oscar for this one too.

#5: Sarah Pierce
"Little Children" (2006)

Sarah Pierce is over-educated and underwhelmed with her role as a wife and stay at home mother. She had been working towards a doctorate degree before leaving the world of academia behind to marry her husband. Stuck in a suburb of Boston and totally unsatisfied with her life, she’s understandably pretty pissed when she realizes that her husband is addicted to internet porn. With her marriage falling apart, Sarah decides to say “carpe diem” and starts an affair with one of the neighborhood dads. In this drama, Kate is in fine form playing the irreverent Sarah, and makes the audience sympathize with her character despite the moral grey area she finds herself in.

#4: April Wheeler
"Revolutionary Road" (2008)

When we said we wanted to see Kate and Leo together again, we really didn’t picture it happening like this. Stepping into the shoes of a yet another dissatisfied housewife but this time, one living in the 1950s. This is one of those movies that gives actors a chance to put their entire range of acting ability on display. Both Kate and Leo make you feel just as claustrophobic as they do in their monotonous lives while we watch their marriage unravel. The romantic drama will undoubtedly leave you feeling hollow and utterly pessimistic about love, but while that may be unpleasant to think about, the fact that it can be conveyed so powerfully is a testament to Kate’s talents as an actress.

#3: Hanna Schmitz
"The Reader" (2008)

We loved her as heroines of period dramas as well as suburban women suffering from midlife crises. But how about as a former Nazi prison guard with a taste for men many years her junior? “The Reader” looks at what happened to the generation of Germans who lived post-World War II and how one man reconciles himself with the acts that his former lover performed during the Holocaust. Kate plays the strong and passionate Hanna Schmitz who is hiding more than one major secret. Her German-accented English is spot-on and her performance is so incredible that we can’t help but feel for Hanna when her lifelong secret is revealed. No wonder she took home an Academy Award for this one.

#2: Clementine Kruczynski
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004)

We could never erase Joel and Clementine from our memories. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are an unlikely pair to act in a romantic movie together, but it turns out just right in this cult classic in which a couple uses new technology to erase their memories of one another. Clementine may at first seem like your typical manic pixie dream girl. She’s even got the quirky personality, spontaneous nature and ever-changing hair dye to prove it. But as the film progresses, we see that Clementine is in fact a very real and very flawed character. It’s a role the likes of which only Kate Winslet’s acting range could bring to life so convincingly.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Iris Simpkins
"The Holiday" (2006)

Dr. Erin Mears
"Contagion" (2011)

"Hamlet" (1996)

Sylvia Llewelyn Davies
"Finding Neverland" (2004)

#1: Rose DeWitt Bukater
"Titanic" (1997)

Can you picture anyone else playing this iconic role? In our humble opinion, the movie would straight up not have worked with some well-known A-lister playing the leading lady. In 1997, Kate was a fresh face and far from the household name she is today. Rose changed a lot in the few short days the Titanic sailed, and this gave Kate the opportunity to portray the constantly evolving character, which included everything from haughty and defiant to vulnerable and desperate. Her turn as Rose in this epic romantic blockbuster is definitely Kate’s most memorable role, making it an easy choice for our number one pick. We’ll never let go, Kate!

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite Kate Winslet role? For more impeccably acted top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.

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