Natalie Portman’s Movie 2

01 Feb 2016
Author:  cerebcerdas
Posted under: News

Closer (2004) 68%

Unlike a lot of child actresses, Natalie Portman didn’t grow up playing characters that necessarily reflected her age; when you make your big-screen debut as a 12-year-old hitman’s apprentice, no one’s going to send you the script for, say, The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Still, Portman caused something of a tizzy when word got out that she’d be playing a stripper in Mike Nichols’ Closer. The part, like the movie, ultimately ended up being far less titillating than some might have hoped; as he’d done with Carnal Knowledge nearly 25 years previous, Nichols took a potentially lurid premise and read between the lines, focusing instead on the human drama at its core. And while some lookie-loos might have been disappointed that Closer turned out to be a sexual drama devoid of sex, many critics were too busy appreciating Patrick Marber’s script — and a quartet of stellar performances from Portman, Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, and Jude Law — to notice. “Portman steals the show with an astonishingly layered performance as the spiky but vulnerable Alice,” wrote Rich Cline of Shadows on the Wall. “Even without the rest of the film’s genius, she’s worth the price of a ticket.”

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V for Vendetta (2006) 73%

VForVendetta

The famously cantankerous Alan Moore disavowed the Hollywood version of his graphic novel, taking issue with the way the Wachowski-produced V for Vendetta used the political subtext of the book — which was written in the 1980s — to frame an argument against neoconservatism. And Moore probably had a point, too — but as hard as it is to begrudge an author his criticism of an adaptation of his work, it’s also easy to understand why the gripping, stylish Vendetta was a critical and commercial hit when it reached theaters in early 2006. James McTeigue’s direction is at its most thrilling here, and the Wachowskis’ script manages to incorporate thought-provoking themes with good old-fashioned action. And then there was Natalie Portman, who had her head shaved on camera for her role as Evey Hammond, the ordinary citizen driven to vigilanteism by a totalitarian political regime (as well as some remarkably persuasive speeches from a masked, yet still utterly charismatic, Hugo Weaving). V for Vendetta was so dark and so unapolagetically political that it’s still a little hard to believe it was a $100 million-plus hit — but it certainly didn’t hurt that it provoked eloquent praise from critics like Jonathan R. Perry of the Tyler Morning Telegraph, who wrote, “V screams loudly and long, with visceral, kinetic fury and with style to burn. It’s so brazen, it’s kind of brilliant.”

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Black Swan (2010) 87%

BlackSwan

At what price artistic perfection? It’s a question director Darren Aronofsky is uniquely well qualified to pose, given a filmography that includes stories about all-consuming obsession (Pi), commitment (The Wrestler), and addiction (Requiem for a Dream), as well as projects that tested his own professional and creative limits (The Fountain). Those themes form the graceful spine of 2010’s Black Swan, in which Portman (who won a Best Actress Oscar for her work) portrays a dancer whose participation in a production of Swan Lake serves as the backdrop for a harrowing exploration of the thin line between art and madness. “The film picks at our deepest anxieties — injury, disfigurement, loss of a coveted job, loss of identity, loss of sanity,” observed Colin Covert for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “In most fright films, danger lurks in the shadows. Here it’s grinning from a mirror.”

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The Thor Franchise

Thor

These days, we’ve grown accustomed to being part of a world in which pretty much any film professional, no matter how distinguished their career, is fair game for Marvel movies. But the studio’s cinematic universe was still fairly young when Thor lured Portman on board to play the hammer-twirling titan’s Earthbound love interest, Jane Foster — and as an added bonus, got Kenneth Branagh to direct. Distinguished pedigree aside, Thor (and, to a lesser extent, its 2013 sequel The Dark World) conquered the seemingly insurmountable silliness of its mythology-laden setup by tapping into its many humorous possibilities, giving Portman and Chris Hemsworth room to throw comedic sparks while facing off against superpowered bad guys (and making goo-goo eyes at each other). Wrote Marc Mohan after watching the first Thor, “Marvel’s ambitious plan has taken one more step, and it has yet to take a false one.”

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