Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban

Nicole Kidman could not be more ready to ring in the New Year. The Oscar-winning actress says 2014 has taken a toll on her personal life and career, telling the Guardian: "Personally [it's been] really, really, really hard. My family underwent a massive tragedy. So not my favorite year. But I try not to be ungrateful — I'm grateful to be alive."

Nicole, 47, who stars in the well-reviewed children's movie Paddington, suffered through the death of her beloved father, Anthony, from a heart attack in August. Earlier this year, critics blasted her film Grace of Monaco, in which she portrayed the legendary Grace Kelly to mixed reviews.

"My whole career is always a roller coaster," she said. "I'm so random and spontaneous and unusual in my choices — I never expect anything."

Nicole, who lives in Nashville, should expect to enter 2015 on a high note, given the early reviews of Paddington, which opens January 16. She plays a villainous museum owner who — eek! — wants to kidnap and stuff the poor bear, who's voiced by British actor Ben Whishaw.

Nicole on the red carpet with the adorable Paddington Bear

"I hadn't made a film that had made people feel good for a long time," says the mother of two young daughters with husband Keith Urban. "I'd make films that are darker in tone. So, it's really nice to be able to make a film where you can say: 'Yeah, bring your kids.'"

Next year the actress, who also has two older children with ex-husband Tom Cruise, is poised to make a comeback in a leading role as British explorer Gertrude Bell in Werner Herzog's Queen of the Desert, opposite Robert Pattinson, James Franco and Damian Lewis.

Other films on tap: the Australia-set Strangerland, as a mother whose kids mysteriously disappear, and Genius alongside Colin Firth.

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