List by-Jarrett Leahy
Year after year, Natalie Portman has proven time and again why she is considered among the best actresses of her generation. As seen by this list, Natalie is not afraid to take chances, choosing diverse roles across a slew of film genres. 2014 looks to be another busy year for Portman, with 3 films scheduled for release including a passion project she’s also the producer of, a western titled Jane Got a Gun. Here are six past performances that the cream of the crop for me…
6. Closer (2004) Natalie teamed up with legendary director Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) along with Julia Roberts, Jude Law, and Clive Owen to create one of the most adult melodramas of the last decade. While each actor is at the top of their game, it is Portman’s portrayal of Alice, a mysterious and erotically provocative American that steals the show, earning her the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe and her first Oscar nomination.
5. Leon: The Professional (1994) At age 13, Portman splashed onto the Hollywood scene playing Mathilda, a young girl who is rescued by a professional assassin after her family is killed by dirty cops. As Mathilda’s relationship with Leon (Jean Reno) grows, she convinces him to teach her his trade secrets. Rarely do child actors give debut performances as confident or seasoned as Portman’s was in The Professional. It was quite obvious from the start that she had the talent to a star on-screen.
4. Black Swan (2010) No actress could have better portrayed the emotional vulnerability or inner turmoil required for the role of Nina Sayers in Darren Aronofsky’s psychological drama about a ballerina’s mental deterioration under the stress of her new star role. Critically heralded as the performance of her career, Portman swept all the major awards of 2010 including winning her first Academy Award.
3. Brothers (2009) One of the more underrated films of 2009, Portman plays Grace, the wife of Marine Captain Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) who goes missing in Afghanistan after his helicopter crashes. Fearing the worst, Cahill’s younger brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) tries to comfort Grace as she deals with the grief of possibly losing her husband. Portman perfectly captures the emotional trauma inflicted on a spouse during a wartime tragedy. I hope more movie fans will revisit and give this one a second look in the future.
2. V for Vendetta (2006) If you are looking for a whip-smart and extremely entertaining action flick you can’t go wrong with this Portman effort. V for Vendetta tells the story of a vigilante who unleashes a barrage of terrorist attacks on a futuristic Great Britain in order to bring to light past atrocities the tyrannical government unleashed on its own people. Natalie is Evey, an unsuspecting citizen who is mistakenly identified as an accomplice, forcing her to go into hiding with charismatic stranger. V for Vendetta still gets my juices flowing when I throw it in blu-ray player. Portman’s commitment to her character is quite evident as you can see both her physical and emotional transformation throughout the film.
1. Garden State (2004) Zach Braff’s directorial debut may be a surprise pick to some for my #1 spot, but I’ve loved this perfectly quirky love story/family drama from the first time I watched it. Garden State is tells of Andrew Largeman (Braff), a semi-employed L.A. actor who returns home to New Jersey for his mother’s funeral after being away for almost ten years. Natalie plays Sam, a charmingly eccentric young woman who meets Andrew and helps him come to grips with the emotions that arise during his visit home. Portman steals every scene she’s in, giving a performance filled an energetic charisma.-JL
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