October 22, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

TIFF ’10: Additional thoughts on Aronofsky’s ‘Black Swan’

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: So “The King’s Speech” didn’t happen. But it gave me time to come back to the room and write.

Since “Black Swan” has been on my mind from the minute it ended this morning, I wanted to try and elaborate more on its power, its sheer force, its ability to transcend its camp clichés, even as it descends at harrowing speeds into madness.

ButI’ve been asked to wait. Sort of. Embargoes are tough around a festival. Yes, “Black Swan” is playing here. Yes, it has played elsewhere. But it doesn’t open until December. And so to avoid sounding “review-ish,” I’ll say the following about “Black Swan” and leave the rest for you to discover (which is how it should be, really).

Portman is devastatingly good. I don’t want to rush to say this is the best performance of her career, because she has been excellent before and there’s no doubt she’ll be excellent again. What she leans on in “Swan” is the fragility that comes to her naturally. She’s a small woman with a soft-spoken voice but there’s a furious passion inside her that can be tapped when necessary. To borrow images from Aronofsky’s film, Portman – the actress — has a black swan persona lurking beneath the surface, and she doesn’t need the urgings of a Vincent Cassel to set that bird free.

I knew Portman was capable of excellence. “Black Swan” taught me Milas Kunis is, as well. She’s the ideal shadow to Portman’s shimmering light. Oh, Aronofsky loves to play white against black in “Swan,” often through a mirror’s reflection. But I’m getting too deep. And the movie instructs us to let go … as Aronofsky certainly does.

As mentioned, “Black Swan” is camp. It is gothic horror. It is psychological warfare. Like most of Aronofsky’s films before it, “Black Swan” photographs, with brutal honesty, a flawed individual becoming consumed by a quest. Sometimes its for a cure for cancer (as in “The Fountain”). Sometimes its for a taste of the limelight (as in “The Wrestler”). Sometimes its for the role of a lifetime, for approval from a mentor, and for a touch of self-confidence. But no matter how difficult the journey, it’s always compelling to watch.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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