Natalie Portman has had one of the most successful careers in Hollywood history since she debuted at age 11 in Luc Besson’s action film Léon: The Professional. Portman has never settled into a comfort zone, appearing in both comic and art films. Her biggest role to date was as a revamped version of the title character in Thor: Love and Thunder, as well as portraying Padme Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Let’s take a look at some of the fantastic movies that Natalie Portman has been part of over her nearly 30-year career.
10. V For Vendetta
The future depicted in “V for Vendetta” seems eerily accurate. With the support of a feisty working-class woman named Evey, a disguised freedom warrior named “V” plans to destroy a despotic British government in the year 2020. Portman is more than just a potential romantic interest. She’s a badass freedom fighter who can hold her own against the guys. John Hurt, who sadly passed away too soon, shines as the evil king, and Stephen Rea, who plays the Scotland Yard officer on “V’s” trial, also impresses.
Portman plays a biologist who ventures into a mysterious and perilous zone known as “The Shimmer,” where the laws of nature are slowly coming apart, in Alex Garland’s evocative and unnerving sci-fi thriller. Each of the women on the expedition meets a terrible end, in the vein of “Ten Little Indians” and “Alien.” Nonetheless, the film’s disappointing box office result may have been due to Garland’s lack of a satisfying conclusion in the shape of a climactic action sequence. And yet, just like “2001,” “Solaris,” and “Blade Runner,” I think this one will get a second wind.
Closer is a stunning and gut-wrenching picture filled with virtuoso performances from A-listers. Still, Portman owns the film with a performance that communicates volumes even when she doesn’t utter a word, making it both an underestimated movie and a showcase for Portman. The story revolves around four people whose paths cross unexpectedly and terribly. This time around, Portman plays Alice, a stripper from the United States who has relocated to London in quest of adventure. She meets Dan, played by Jude Law, and the two embark on a whirlwind romance that ultimately leads to Dan’s infidelity and a novel.
For this epic criminal drama, director Michael Mann casts Al Pacino and Robert De Niro on opposing sides of the law. In this film, Pacino portrays a Los Angeles Police Department investigator on the trail of a gang of expert bank robbers led by a seductive con man (De Niro). Meanwhile, the two men struggle to juggle their work and personal responsibilities. Portman is impressive as Pacino’s defiant stepdaughter. Despite its nearly three-hour running time, the intensity never relaxes, and the diverse cast adds surprising dimensions to stock characters. It’s a crime that the film, despite its high quality, received no Oscar nominations.
6. Vox Lux
Because Natalie Portman and Jude Law both deliver excellent performances in the film, it’s odd that Vox Lux was mostly overlooked. Celeste, played by Portman, is a multi-talented person who has been considered a prodigy since she was a teenager. Celeste is there during a school massacre, yet her wonderful singing voice comforts the grieving at the mass mourning ceremony. She eventually becomes a famous singer, but her downfall is inevitable due to the numerous temptations on her path.
5. Leon: The Professional
Although Portman just entered the film profession after turning 10, her performance is on par with seasoned veterans. Her performance in Léon: The Professional is outstanding, and it’s just the beginning of Portman’s career in critically acclaimed films. Mathilda, played by Portman, returns home to find her family murdered by a vicious hitman (Gary Oldman) and his henchman. Here, with the help of Léon (Jean Reno), a friendly local hitman, Mathilda sees the chance for forgiveness and revenge.
4. Thor: Love And Thunder
Portman officially became part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Thor: Love and Thunder. She portrays Dr. Jane Foster in the film, who meets and falls in love with Chris Hemsworth’s character, a deposed Asgardian god on Earth, to protect it from the evil brother he has banished (Tom Hiddleston). In true Kenneth Branagh fashion, the director creates an enormous and operatic opening for the hammer-wielding hero. Thor’s critically panned sequel “The Dark World” saw Portman’s comeback.
3. Black Swan
As a result of her performance in Darren Aronofsky’s unsettling psychological horror picture, Natalie Portman won the Academy Award for Best Actress. In this role, she portrays Nina, a ballerina who is so dedicated to her art that she almost loses herself in it. The pressure to perform brilliantly in Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” lead role causes her to fall apart. As a director, Aronofsky creates a nightmare depiction of artistic sacrifice with operatic ambition that nearly rivals that of his protagonist. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing, but only she came out on top.
2. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
Perhaps the role that Natalie Portman is best known for is as Padme Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, appearing in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. It is the third episode in this trilogy that is the highlight of the franchise. Portman’s character is the wife of Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader, with the film centering around Anakin’s fall to the dark side as he tries to save Padme’s life. Although Attack of the Clones may have showcased Portman’s acting chops a bit more, Revenge of the Sith gripped viewers, especially during the ending scenes with Anakin accidentally harming Padme, which eventually resulted in her death.
Portman’s acting in Jackie garnered as much acclaim as her work in Black Swan. A very accurate portrayal of Jackie Kennedy’s life in the weeks before and after the death of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. The life of the former First Lady was as fascinating as that of almost any Kennedy. Still, it was particularly astute to zero in on the two days immediately preceding and following the death of her husband. This narrow setting allows Portman to demonstrate her versatility by showing her as both a world-famous figure and a bereaved widow.
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