Kate Winslet

By Chris Nashawaty
Updated January 20, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST
Kate Winslet
Credit: Kate Winslet photograph by James White

Kate Winslet made our 2004 Entertainers of the Year list

”I remember being suspended by the wires and liking it a lot,” says Kate Winslet, reminiscing about playing Wendy in a school production of Peter Pan when she was 15. ”I’m sure I was not very good.”

Somehow we doubt it. After all, in her most recent brush with J.M. Barrie’s children’s classic, Finding Neverland, Winslet soars. As a widowed mother of four, Winslet’s Sylvia Llewelyn Davies meets a married playwright (Johnny Depp) willing to both accept and help carry her baggage. Her character is a radiant mix of grief and innocence — a grown-up saint who’s a devilish kid at heart.

For most actors, that performance would be enough to rest on this year. But Neverland was the follow-up to Winslet’s other terrific turn. In the Möbius-strip romance, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the biggest stunt in a movie consisting of daredevil storytelling stunts was casting Winslet — not costar Jim Carrey — as the film’s live wire. Desperate to be loved, Winslet’s Clementine is frazzled — her emotions as schizophrenic as her ever-changing hair color. And Winslet goes for broke in a way she never has before. At the end, when Clementine takes a chance on a relationship that may end in disaster for a second time, it feels like the most hopeful definition of love there is.