Let’s face facts kids: Natalie Portman is one of the single worst actresses ever. Yeah, she’s pretty, and yeah, she seems nice, but being nice and pretty doesn’t make you talented. Why in the world this woman keeps getting high profile acting gigs in big blockbuster movies is beyond me. Granted, I think she nailed the role of *Queen* Amidala in “The Phantom Menace”, but the reason I emphasized the word ‘Queen’ was because it went to shit the moment the role switched over to *Senator* Amidala, and she had to start showing emotion.
Think about a Natalie Portman movie, any Natalie Portman movie. Regardless of the role she’s playing, or the emotion that she’s supposed to be conveying, you can bet your ass that you’ll get two things from her: 1.) that stupid raspy, billowy voice; and 2.) a blank, vapid stare. When she smiles, it’s only with her mouth and teeth, and her eyes are still glassy. Same when she cries. Or yells….or, whatever. And what baffles me, is that there’s actual proof out there that she doesn’t have to do this. If you watch the original trailer for “The Phantom Menace”, you’ll hear her actually yell, forcefully, the line “Get to your ships!” But in the actual movie, probably changed up during re-dubs, you get billowy, raspy Natalie voice for the same line. You feel the urgency and strength in her voice ONLY in the trailer (and, of course, there’s also the SNL Gangsta Rap video she made, but I’m pretty sure Andy Samberg got her soused just minutes before they made that…).
So all of that brings us to my first “WTF?!?!” decision of 2011, when I voluntarily decided to go see “Black Swan” last Friday. I figured that if nothing else, I owed it to myself to see what all the fuss was about, and I hadn’t witnessed a good train wreck in awhile. What I wasn’t expecting to happen though, was to end up loving the movie…which I did…but not for the reasons any of you may guess.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with “Black Swan”, let me give you a brief and spoiler-free summation of the plot: A ballerina finally gets her chance to become a star after being cast as both the White Swan, AND the Black Swan in her company’s performance of Swan Lake (as an aside, if I had known this movie was going to be about ballet, I never would have agreed to go see it). The ‘drama’ begins though when we (the audience) learn that the character Nina, played by Portman, is a tremendously talented, technical dancer, but that she’s completely frigid. Nina is so cold, so emotionless, that she’s unable to seduce a single man, let alone an entire audience. To wit, she’s the perfect virginal, chaste (boring) White Swan, but a horrendous seductive and passionate Black Swan. We were about a quarter of the way through the movie before I changed my position from ‘relaxed in my seat, watching a train wreck’ to ‘upright and attentive, taking in every line, every moment of this film’. Indeed, my brain was on fire as I came to realize the truth about this movie: “Darren Aronofsky made the perfect metaphor for how wretched of an actress Natalie Portman is…and he cast Natalie Portman in it!” If there was any doubt about it, let me be clear: The man is a genius (and I’ve used too damn many colons in this paragraph).
So…about all of the Oscar buzz surrounding this movie (Entertainment Weekly called Portman ‘The Contender’ for this year’s Best Actress award)…despite how many people have seen this movie, and raved about it, everyone seems to be missing the point. The category is “Best Actress”, not “Best Metaphorical Portrayal of Oneself in a Motion Picture.” The movie is amazing, but only for the fact that a vapid, emotionless, frigid ‘actress’ is playing a vapid, emotionless, frigid character. I can’t say that the movie isn’t enjoyable, and I won’t say that the characters aren’t believable, because they are, but to give a craptastic actress the highest honor and award given in Hollywood because she nailed a role that she plays in every single movie she’s ever been in? Well, that’s a insane as the Academy awarding ‘Best Original Song’ to “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp”…
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