Black Swan (2010)
The controversy surrounding Natalie Portman’s actual ballet dancing is almost immaterial—the dancer accusing Fox Searchlight (of using her likeness and grafting Portman’s face onto it) admitted herself that Portman was incredibly devoted to her dancing, even in spite of her asseveration. Directed by the great Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as a meek, fragile and self-destructive ballet dancer. This is arguably her (as well as Aronofsky’s) masterpiece—a eulogy on self-obsessed personalities, stagecraft and body horror. You couldn’t use a single moment in the film to define her performance. She plays off every other great performance in the movie so well (and with a wide range of diversity)—each encounter has its own unique personality-type. She’s a desexualized doll child to her mother. A sexual plaything to her dance instructor. A fully ripened lover to her rival. But to the stage she’s a force-of-nature.