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Natalie Portman, “Black Swan” – FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” closed AFI Fest 2010 Thursday night, sending several critics and Oscar pundits to Twitter post-screening to sing the film’s praises.

The words “brilliant” and “masterpiece” were used so often, I’m surprised they weren’t trending on the social media tool. And IndieWire’s Anne Thompson hit the nail on the head when it came down to the film’s chief Oscar chance.

“Black swan: it is portman vs. Bening now.”

Well, and probably Nicole Kidman and maybe Julianne Moore, as well, but you get the idea.

Portman does deliver a roundhouse-to-the-gut of a performance, one that the Academy needs to recognize (and probably reward). The actress guides us on a staggeringly deep descent into her character’s personal, insecure hell that, ghoulish as this sounds, entertains us – the captivated audience – with every self-doubting glance or terrified shiver of the ballerina’s crumbling body. Portman’s occupation of Nina’s psyche is complete. She is fearless, forceful, yet vulnerable. Yes, these are characteristics we attributed to Mickey Rourke when he danced with Aronosky for “The Wrestler,” and that’s why these projects are kindred spirits in more ways than one.

So Portman started winning fans on Thursday, just as she did in Venice, Telluride, Toronto, Savannah and beyond. She’ll earn even more when the film opens on Dec. 3. And even more, undoubtedly, when Oscar nominations are announced in January.


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