best film: Black Swan is spectacular enough to debate here with Heat. Natalie Portman was just fourteen years old in 1995 at the time of Heat’s release and she plays a smaller part in Michael Mann’s ensemble epic crime saga. Though Portman is solid in her role, there are at least a half dozen actors who make more of an impact on Heat’s brilliance.
best performance: Natalie Portman gives one of the best performances of the 2010s decade in Black Swan. Cinema history has just ten (10) or eleven (11) real decades to draw upon- so Portman’s possibly decade’s best work here in Darren Aronofsky’s masterpiece puts her right there on the all-time short list. Aronofsky certainly deserves some credit for helping shape Portman’s Nina Sayers character. Nina is vulnerable and fragile, childlike, uptight, rigid, and cold at times in a very cutthroat world (Vincent Cassel is perfect in support). Portman has multiple moments of virtuoso acting. When she falls on stage, the look on her face after she exits the stage is an amazing display of acting—this is complete devastation. The final shot in the film- tight in on her face- is another moment that any actor would be lucky to get.
stylistic innovations/traits: Portman is younger than the thirty-four (34) actors listed before her on this list. She was born in 1981. But she has been acting for decades. She burst onto the scene with Léon: The Professional (her debut at age thirteen) in 1994 and really has not looked back. She is off acting with Al Pacino (and performing well) in a top 100 of all-time film in the following year then collaborating with Woody Allen the next. Portman’s transition from a child actor to adult was not without its awkward misstep (she does not look like a great actor in the Star Wars prequels)- but 2004’s Closer with Mike Nichols skyrocketed her career and was her best work to date in 2004 (outacting Julia Roberts, Jude Law – and at least on par with Clive Owen in the film). With the trio of films Black Swan, Jackie¸ and Annihilation, Portman put together a 2010s decade that few female actors, if any, could match.
directors worked with: Nobody more than once in the archives: Luc Besson, Michael Mann, Woody Allen, Anthony Minghella, Mike Nichols, George Lucas, Wes Anderson Darren Aronofsky, Terrence Malick, Pablo Larraín, and Alex Garland.
top five performances:
- Black Swan
- Léon: The Professional
|1994- Léon: The Professional
|1996- Everyone Says I Love You
|2003- Cold Mountain
|2004- Garden State
|2005- Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
|2005- The V For Vendetta
|2007- The Darjeeling Limited
|2010- Black Swan
|2015- Knight of Cups