I have never been a fan of Natalie Portman’s acting ability. Unlike critics who have been making comments about last year’s female performances, I do not believe she should be the odds-on favorite. I do not regard her acting in The Black Swan to be persuasive; she does not seem to emote very well and the way she talks appears to me to be one step removed from struggling both to remember her lines and to follow the director’s instructions. It seems to me she tries to rely on her appearance–which is far less than a lot of other talented actresses–to get her over. However, her outward countenance simply cannot compensate for a very shallow reservoir of talent.
Another aspect which is troubling is a condescending comportment on Portman’s part. I recall years ago when she was criticizing actresses who appear nude on screen, she insisted she would not deign to that. It was not long ago that she played a stripper in Closer scarcely removing any of her underwear. Her playing of this role was not only weak, but also mocking reality. Strippers remove their clothing and their relationship to the clientele goes much further than Portman’s portrayal. Perhaps, her statement was more a reflection of her age, rather than some precocity or moral compass. Clearly, age, romance, and pregnancy removed this sexual constipation, if you will, for she engages in hetero and same-sex activity in The Black Swan, albeit Mila Kunis is more knowledgeable and bare than Portman.
Of course, I am under no illusion that the buzz about Portman’s being a shoe-in for the Oscar will not mirror reality. The unfortunate thing is that her victory will slight the many other powerful performances over the past year. I liked her words at the Screen Actors Guild awards ceremony, when she supported labor. I glad she took advantage of the opportunity to say what she did. So, even though she did not, in my opinion, deserve to be standing there receiving the Actor for Best Actress, her real life show was par excellent!