Natalie Portman’s Best Movies, Ranked
While some might complain they’re being sent away from making the kind of films they have for years, we at least can say it’s not permanent. We hope so with Portman.
There isn’t any hyperbole in saying Portman is one of the top five greatest actresses of the last three decades. She also has the distinction of being in classic films both as a child actress and as an adult.
Perhaps it’s the best time to reanalyze her film career to date. Here’s our Top Five of her best films over the last 25 years.
The most recent of her truly great films is arguably Jackie where Portman played Jackie Kennedy during the immediate aftermath of JFK’s assassination. There was a lot of talk about her winning the Oscar for this portrayal. But, she was criminally overlooked, despite being nominated for Best Actress.
It offers a long-overdue and raw portrait of what Jackie Kennedy went through and the emotional turmoil she endured to adjust back to normalcy. On top of it, Portman resembled the real Jackie to a large degree, adding to the authenticity.
All success of this film goes to Portman’s intense acting, helped along with the excellent cinematography in getting up close to showcase every morsel of facial expression.
Portman helped take part in crafting one of the very best biopics of the last decade, simply by going into the mind of a very public/private figure.
4. ‘Léon: The Professional’
Let’s go all the way back to the beginning for our fourth pick. The Professional was Portman’s debut movie as a child actor in 1994. Anyone who remembers seeing it originally would remember how much Portman stuck out immediately at the ripe age of 12.
Playing Mathilda Lando, we saw an actress capable of doing things someone 20 years older couldn’t do half as well. Not that the film doesn’t have criticisms based on Mathilda’s expression of love for Léon Montana (Jean Reno) after latter trains her as an assassin. At least he doesn’t reciprocate.
Today, many might cringe seeing those insinuated scenes in a world outing numerous sexual abuse cases of young girls.
This set up Portman early for being capable of handling sophisticated movies. She made five films immediately after before a brief break in 1996.
3. ‘Garden State’
At the midpoint of Portman’s career was this excellent indie romantic comedy. Her portrayal of Sam in Garden State shows what’s possible in creating a very flawed romantic figure who somehow manages to find love. Considering she’s epileptic, lies constantly, plus fibs about her career, it’s a wonder she finds a love interest in Zach Braff’s Andrew Largeman.
Even though Largeman is as screwed up as Sam is, Portman plays latter to perfection. Their breakup by the end will truly shatter you based on Portman’s stunning ability to tap into the inner soul of her characters.
2. ‘Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’
Most people wouldn’t rank Portman’s role of Queen Padmé Amidala as one of her all-time best, though we have the audacity to. Look back and think about how impossible such a role was for any actress to take on. Nobody else could have handled playing Princess Leia’s mother with such utter effectiveness as Portman did.
By the time Episode III came out for the Star Wars prequels, she’d brought much more complexity to the role. If the script is largely contrived, Portman works wonders and brings palpable emotion to the conclusion of the character.
Her death scene alone still packs a punch and lives up to it once being mere backstory requiring our imaginations.
1. ‘Black Swan’
Just about every Natalie Portman fan would place 2010’s Black Swan at No. 1. Only massive contrarians would place something like V for Vendetta or Closer here.
For the ultimate in Portman characters going through turmoil internally, this is the one to see first. No, it’s not for everyone and makes the ballet world look atrocious (which many say is true anyway).
There isn’t a better big-screen psychological portrait of a woman made in the 2010s.
Now we wonder if Portman’s update of Jane Foster/Thor will be able to do the same. When you’re the significant other of Thor, there’s a lot to deal with psychologically.