Paramount via Everett Collection
Kate Winslet has given some amazing performances. She's brilliant as a depressed suburbanite in Little Children (2006), as a depressed suburbanite in Revolutionary Road (2008), and as a depressed suburbanite in the recently released Labor Day (2013).
Admirers of Winslet often place her alongside Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman as one of the best actresses of her generation. She's received many awards and nominations, including a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in The Reader (2008) as a depressed woman who might as well live in the suburbs. All of this leads to the question: is Kate Winslet overrated?
When we measure greatness in acting, we should consider versatility. Winslet has acted in over 20 movies and she's played some variation of sorrow in the majority of them. In addition to the aforementioned films, she's acted in Sense and Sensibility (1995), Jude (1996), Titanic (1997), and Finding Neverland (2004).
It seems that there are two roles that Winslet often plays. The first is the depressed woman who struggles to find happiness in contemporary suburban America. The second is the depressed woman who struggles to find happiness in a different time period.
Winslet supporters may cite the lack of female roles as a defense, and claim that Winslet is merely doing the best she can with what she's given. If this is so, then what do we make of Blanchett's diverse performances as Queen Elizabeth, Bob Dylan, and the living trainwreck that is Jasmine French? What about Nicole Kidman as Suzanne Stone, Virginia Woolf, and Charlotte Bless?
Winslet has indeed been fantastic in many films, but the difference between her and other great actresses like Blanchett and Kidman is that Winslet hasn't shown her versatility. With the exception of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and Carnage (2011), two vastly underrated Winslet performances, she's played the same, sad woman time and time again.
Here's hoping that Winslet does something different in her next film.
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