Natalie Portman wields the almighty Mjolnir as she returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Thor: Love and Thunderwhich arrives this week in all its glorious formats.
Having made her mark on Hollywood from an early age, Natalie Portman’s life and career have been thrust into the spotlight. Bursting onto the scene in 1994, she has forged one of the most respectable and consistent bodies of work in the industry, one that spans four decades.
With over 50 titles to his credit, it’s seemingly impossible to narrow down a “best of” list to a handful. And so, with personal perspectives in mind, we’ll treat this list as a conversation starter. Without further ado, here are five of Natalie Portman’s best.
Originally released in Australia as The professional, Leon should be one of the most impressive debut films by a young actor to date. This edgy, violent drama-thriller from director Luc Besson came in a string of Tarantino-esque titles and was (is) among the best of them all.
Telling the story of 12-year-old Mathilda (Portman), the film chronicles her survival of her family’s massacre and her fate of revenge against the mobster responsible (Gary Oldman). When she imposes herself on her neighbor Leon, who also happens to be a professional hitman, she manipulates him into teaching him the tricks of the trade, and the result is a powerful bond between the two characters that makes Leon an iconic slice of 90s cinema.
Apart, perhaps, from Anna Paquin’s performance in The piano (1993), you’re unlikely to see a debut performance from a child actor as powerful and astute as Portman’s turn as Mathilda. What she put on screen was years beyond her age and heavier than her child’s mind could have comprehended.
Anecdote: the 2011 film Colombian featuring Zoe Zaldaña was originally written as a direct sequel titled Matilda.
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Arguably one of Portman’s most compelling performances, Black Swan is director Darren Aronofski’s traumatic psychological horror film about an ambitious ballerina’s descent into madness as she vies for the coveted lead role in the titular ballet.
Portman’s preparation for the role of Nina in Black Swan became a legend, and the extremes to which she went to achieve her physique are the epitome of method acting. Along with her best friend and co-star, Mila Kunis, Portman followed a strict fitness regimen of five-hour workouts, cross-fit and ballet training for an arduous six months, as well as a strict diet of only 1,200 calories a day. .
The value of method of action has been debated for decades, and whichever side of the argument, the impact of its engagement is both confronting and fascinating, and Black Swan is one of the great films of a generation.
Anecdote: director Darren Aronofski took into account Black Swan to be a companion to his 2008 film The wrestlerfeaturing Mickey Rourke, with both titles depicting extreme physical endeavors in light of opportunity.
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Produced by the Wachowskis (The matrix), V for Vendetta is the controversial dystopian comic book adaptation about a totalitarian society, a call to arms and an uprising led by a masked freedom fighter/vigilante, V (Hugo Weaving).
Portman plays Evie, a woman whose parents died because of their political beliefs, and finds herself at the mercy of V, who in turn attempts to condition her into adopting her own extremist outlook. Portman’s performance is as brave as it is polarizing, and the physical demands placed on him seem extreme.
The film is a highly stylized and provocative exercise in political commentary, delivered in sensory overload that continues to shock and intimidate all who see it.
Presented in three acts, Vox Lux is a fictional pop music odyssey that depicts the life and career of Celeste, the world’s biggest pop star and fashion icon. Influenced by the ever-higher pedestal on which celebrities are placed, the film chronicles a life of privilege with a twist of tragedy.
To immerse herself in the role, Portman drew inspiration from Lady Gaga and Madonna, whose career trajectories resemble those of Celeste. And again, the physicality and emotional range on display makes Vox Lux one of Portman’s most unsuspecting and underappreciated performances of his career.
Anecdote: The songs presented and performed by Natalie Portman in Vox Lux were written by Sia.
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We end the list on a happy note. garden condition was the directorial debut of actor Zach Braff and told the funny story of a 26-year-old man whose mother recently died. Based on Braff’s own experiences, the film was a dramedy steeped in a sensational soundtrack featuring some of the greatest alternative bands of the time.
Natalie Portman plays an eccentric girl named Sam, an epileptic and confessed pathological liar, who befriends Braff’s character in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. They become close and with her other companion Mark (Peter Sarsgaard), they spend time hanging out and navigating the complexities of life together during her return home.
Explore themes of loneliness, isolation and a variety of mental health issues, garden condition wears its heart on its sleeve and turns out to be an uplifting story, which speaks to the audience with the assurance that everyone is messed up in one way or another, and going through the course of life is akin walking through minefields. And this soundtrack? Just awesome.
Anecdote: during the presentation of the film, Zack Braff sent a CD with his ideal soundtrack with each script he sent.
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Also consider films such as The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Beautiful girls (1996), everywhere except here (1999), Jane has a gun (2015), Closer (2004) and, of course, its role in the star wars saga – to name a few. Natalie Portman’s career is diverse and eclectic, full of quirks and wonders. And let’s not forget Martian attacks! who can forget Martian attacks!?