If Nicole Kidman Didn’t Own 2017, Then We Don’t Know Who Did

In a world awash in It Girls, Stranger Things kids, reality TV standouts and Instagram influencers, meet the real breakout star of 2017: Nicole Kidman.

Wait, you ask, hasn’t she been a movie star for for 30 years, winner of an Oscar in 2003 and once married to the Tom Cruise? Haven’t we been chronicling the minutiae of her life for decades?

Yes, all true. But with renewed purpose and her adoring family by her side, she at long last finally seems to be enjoying herself.

“When I won my Oscar, I was not in a great place in my life. I didn’t have a partner to share it with,” Kidman said on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert earlier this month, recalling her after-party of one in 2003. “I was flailing, emotionally and personally. So, to win and Emmy and be in love and have my family…It’s amazing.”

That might put it all in a nutshell, but Kidman, who will likely add another Golden Globe to her trove come January, is skipping over many joyous parts that reconnected her to her fans, to the business of entertainment and to the millions of women who ate up Big Little Lies with a spoon last spring.

Kidman started off the year as a Golden Globe, SAG Award and Oscar nominee for Lion, so she was her usual welcome self on all the red carpets, every chance to see the statuesque Australian dressed to the nines an event in and of itself. But that’s as regular an occurrence as she and Keith Urbanlooking like the most in-love duo for miles around every time they go out in public.

Though she went home empty-handed from the major award shows, it was Kidman’s hands that did the talking at the Oscars. Her appendages certainly seem normal, but it happened that Kidman was caught mid-applause from an angle that made it look like she had abnormally long hands. Her “seal clap” went viral, GIF’d the world over until the actress had a chance to comment.

“It was really difficult because I had a huge ring on that was not my own,” she explained on Australia’s Kyle and Jackie O Show a few weeks later. “It was absolutely gorgeous, and I was terrified of damaging it. It’s like, is there not more important things to be focused on than the seal clap?”

Well yes, but that’s why the occasional seal clap is so important these days.

But as Kidman pointed out, there were more important things—namely the importance of Big Little Liars, which she and Reese Witherspoon helped usher to HBO together as producers, and which helped set the stage for 2017 to be the year of the woman-centric story on TV. 

“It was weird, because when it first came out, I remember kinda going, ‘Oh, I was hoping it would be a little more successful. Maybe it’s not gonna hit the place I really want it to hit.’ And then it just started to snowball!” Kidman said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in May, about a month after the limited series’ season finale.

“I was suddenly being recognized on airports and in airplanes, and women were coming up to me in the streets asking about the characters and what’s coming up next…When women choose to combine their power, they can get things done. Am I right?”

Damn straight. The series, based on the novel by Liane Moriarty, is about wives and moms in the upscale coastal California city of Monterrey who, despite their idyllic surroundings and the relentlessly polished images they project, are grappling with major personal issues. Kidman’s Celeste has the most picture-perfect life at all, but her husband is a violent abuser.

Raising awareness about domestic violence also proved important to the show’s stars.

“I also am a mother and a wife. I have two little girls, Sunny and Faith, and my darling Keith, who I asked to help me pursue this artistic path and they have to sacrifice so much for it, so this is yours. I want my little girls to have this on their shelf!” Kidman said in September when accepting her almost inevitable Emmy for Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.

“…Sometimes when you’re acting you get a chance to bring a bigger message and this is their contribution and your contribution. We’ve shown a light on domestic abuse. It is a complicated, insidious disease. It exists far more than we allow ourselves to know. It is filled with shame and secrecy and by you acknowledging me with this award it shines a light on it even more.”

Alexander Skarsgård, who played Perry, won the Emmy for supporting actor. “Thank you for making this boy feel like one of the girls,” he said in acknowledging the female forces to be reckoned with who made Big Little Lies soar.

Not surprisingly Kidman ended up as one of Glamour‘s 2017 Women of the Year, having already put her pledge to work with a female director at least every 18 months into overdrive.

In May she had four projects screening at the Cannes Film Festival, including The Beguiled, directed by Sofia Coppola, and the second season premiere of Jane Campion‘s Top of the Lake. (The well-done but super-weird The Killing of a Sacred Deer opened in limited release last month, and the release of How to Talk to Girls at Parties is TBD.)

It was a triumphant return to Cannes, three years after the reception for Grace of Monaco, starring Kidman as Grace Kelly, resulted in it bypassing theaters and heading straight to Lifetime. She admitted to Vogue that she was “terrified to go back,” but Campion and Coppola were by her side for moral support.

As, of course, was Urban, worshipful as ever.

“As an actor you’re only as good as the things you’re offered. And there just weren’t any women offering me things,” Kidman later told Glamour. “So when you dissect that, you realize there aren’t women offering you things because they don’t have the opportunities. I work to raise money for women’s cancers; I use my voice for violence against women. And so I was like, ‘I need to be part of the movement that will, hopefully, change the statistics in my field.'”

Kidman also, incidentally, turned 50 in June, looking as radiant as one could hope to look at any age.

“Everything becomes more meaningful as you get older,” she told Vogue. “It’s crazy. Big Little Lies means more. Lion‘s success means more than Moulin Rouge!‘s success. When you’re young you have that slightly laissez-faire approach to everything. I know what Vogue is in the world. It’s an institution, and to have been on it is ‘Wow!’ When Elle Fanning [her co-star in The Beguiled] was on the cover, you thought, Elle has arrived. So to have been on the cover eight times! It’s amazing.”

“I’m absolutely, on the record, amazed.”

And while a lot of stars have to align to get a second season of Big Little Lies off the ground, considering the original source material was only the one novel, Kidman reiterated to E! News’ Giuliana Rancic at the Emmys that she wants to do it.

“We love these women and it’s just trying to move pieces and it’s complicated,” she said. “We love that people want us to do it.” And that’s where it stands for now. She told Stephen Colbert a few weeks ago that they were “inching” their way forward.

More recently, she’s been able to shift into relaxation mode a bit, accompanying Urban to the 2017 American Music Awards a week ago and tackling the family’s holiday plans. But it’s back to business tonight at the 2017 Gotham Awards, considered the official start of award season (as much as the Hollywood Film Awards wants to be), where Kidman is being honored with the Actress Tribute.

“She has consistently sought out roles of complex characters and delivered them with unforgettable, iconic performances that have unequivocally placed her amongst one of the greatest actresses of our lifetime,” Independent Film Project director Joana Vicente said in announcing their selection.

And when they’re done with the career retrospective to cap off her triumphant 2017, if Nicole Kidman wants to own 2018 and beyond as well, we’re here for it.

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