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|
@Drake-Did you see Thor:Love and Thunder? The main reason I ask it is because I remember Thor:Ragnarok made it into the archives. And this one is directed by Taika Waititi as well. Are there any redeemable aspects to archive it? Or is it far inferior to Ragnarok? If yes what did Ragnarok do better than Love and Thunder?
Haven’t seen it and won’t. But it’s unanimously agreed to be vastly below Love and Thunder. I saw essentially 0 love for it, even from big marvel groups
Sorry, vastly below Ragnorok*
@Malith- I have not seen Thor: Love and Thunder yet
She is not only younger than the 34 actresses that came before her but she 13 years younger than the next youngest(Naomi Watts). Crazy. I do expect Emma Stone and Scarlett Johansson to come soon in this ranking though.
This page reminds me of when someone ranked Portman as having the best performance in all the Star Wars movies on The Last Jedi page. Not to rag on whoever that was of course, but I can’t help but laugh at that, it’s a big hilarious miss. She’s shockingly horrible there, especially from an otherwise all-time great actress
I think I need to watch Jackie again, only one viewing and I was not all that impressed but willing to watch again.
@James Trapp- I’d encourage it- even a Spencer and Jackie double feature. It took me that second viewing of Jackie- Pablo Larraín certainly knows how to structure a frame.
@Drake – I’m going to give it another viewing, I do remember being impressed by the performance though. I do love this period of US history as well even when it’s not the main focus of the film like in The Irishman for example.
Black Swan was such an astonishing performance, especially from Portman who was really stepping out as an adult actor at the time. “I’m the Swan Queen, you’re the one who never left the corps!”: chills every time. Brilliant casting across the board btw.
The accent is strange in an intriguing sort of way
The film is a mediation on grief and fame
Ironically an absolutely gorgeous shot in the graveyard, a cinematic painting
46:40 brilliant tracking shot of Jackie walking through long corridors of empty mansion
1:01:54 great overhead shot
1:19:37 great low angle shot of Jackie walking through the street in all black to the funeral
Very little actually happens plot wise
Frequent use of close ups particularly when the grieving Jackie is having intense conversations with various men in the film
Film uses flashback structure; I think this was the way to go as it is a sort of memory film
I still need to see Black Swan, but I am comfortable saying this is her best performance