as Nina Sayers in BLACK SWAN (2010)
Nina is a ballerina whose life is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy decides to replace prima ballerina for the opening production, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily, who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality.
"He picked me, mommy! I'm the new swan queen!"
- Nina Sayers
Natalie Portman is a great actress, but she never really challenged herself until this role in « Black Swan ». She received her second Oscar Nomination and first win, playing Nina, a young ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. It’s a real showcase for an actress, she is in every single scene of the movie. She can bring all kind of emotions: Despair,
joy, disappointment, anger, fear, determination, and pleasure. Well, she is really captivating, and convincing. From the naïve and Fragile young woman, Natalie Portman turns herself into this seductive and confident Nina, and manages to portray an incredibly convincing transformation. Her transformation through the movie is disturbing and very intense. At first, she's sweet, innocent then she transforms herself into this volcanic and sensual ballerina. We can really salute the hard work she's done. She works on her voice and finds something deeper and affected, she also manages to recreate the gestures and the physical behavior of a ballerina. She gives a very tortured and damaged performance and shows rightly the background and the discipline of ballet. The relation with her mother reminds the one in the movie “Carrie”- Their relationship is very complex, raw and tense, it is really well-executed on screen, thanks in part to the amazing Barbara Hershey. I don’t find the “lesbian” relationship really interesting and doesn’t bring anything special to the film, but that’s okay. Mila Kunis is damned sexy and provocative.
"[She] is captivating as Nina ... she captures the confusion of a repressed young woman thrown into a world of danger and temptation with frightening veracity."
- Screen Daily
In maybe the role of her lifetime, Natalie Portman, in a very emotionally and physically challenging performance gives a tour de force. She embodies a ballerina larger than life. The role itself is really Oscar worthy, but it needed someone as Natalie to really be exceptional.