Oscar History

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Entries in Black Swan (39)


Posterized: Natalie Portman

by Nathaniel R

Natalie Portman in a new photoshoot for Diorskin ForeverWhat odd careers child stars eventually look back on. Natalie Portman was an instant sensation when she appeared in The Professional as a junior assassin. When the film was released late in 1994, Natalie was just 13 years old. She became an instant favorite for directors filling their prestige ensembles and by the time she was 18 she was a leading lady and also the mother of Luke & Leia (though the Star Wars prequels contain her worst acting by far). By 23 she was a Golden Globe winner and by 29 an Oscar Best Actress champ. Afterwards she receded as so many actresses who win Oscars in their twenties do (what is there left to strive for?) presumably enjoying their riches and in some cases their new domesticity. Pregnant during her Black Swan Oscar campaign, Portman & her ballet world husband Benjamin Millepied are now the parents of a five year old and she's not seen in public nearly as often as she once was.

(Fun Trivia: did you know that Portman, Millepied and their son Aleph all have birthdays in a single week every June?)

After the jump posters from all of her theatrical releases, except the ones where she played herself or only appeared in cameo or in a section of an omnibus film, and a few notes on her filmography.

How many have you seen?

Click to read more ...


Pfeiffer + Aronofsky = !!!!!!!!!!!

Pfeiffer in Beat-Up Little SeagullJust so everyone knows, I am indeed still alive. After briefly passing out. I was on a flight when news broke that Michelle Pfeiffer had signed on to the cast of the new untitled Darren Aronofsky film due in 2017 with filming to start this June.

La Pfeiffer has been MIA from the movies in a significant way since White Oleander (2002) her last Oscar worthy performance (she has famously never won despite multiple breathtaking star turns)  and the last onscreen appearance without significant breaks thereafter. She flirted with a comeback in a brief flurry of activity around 2007-2008 (Stardust & Cheri being the highlights) but it's been relatively quiet since then. But no more?...

Click to read more ...


(tfw you dont comment)


The Honoraries: Maureen O'Hara in Black Swan (1942)

Drum roll please...

Welcome to our miniseries "The Honoraries". From now until November 8th when the Governor's Awards are held, we'll be celebrating the careers of the three Honorary Oscar recipients of 2014 (Maureen O'Hara, Hayao Miyazaki, Claude Carriere) and the Jean Hersholt winner (Harry Belafonte). Because I am behind  schedule and sniffly and sneezy we'll start with a reprise repurposing of a look back to the super entertaining swashbuckler Black Swan starring matinee idol extraordinaire Tyrone Power (who so deserves a biopic) and the woman we've campaigned to receive a Honorary for years and years now. The Academy finally listened and Maureen O'Hara, Queen of Technicolor, we'll finally get her golden due on November 8th. 

Herewith a look back at Black Swan which the Portman/Aronofsky drama was NOT a remake of. Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara don't see themselves in mirrors or have hallucinatory mental breakdowns scored to Tchaikovsky in this swashbuckler. But cinephiles with good taste in Old Hollywood beauties may feel like they're hallucinating when looking at Tyrone Power or Maureen O'Hara in Technicolor. [more...]

Click to read more ...


Beauty Vs Beast: Him Freud, Her Jane

JA from MNPP here - The Film Experience is taking a look back at 1964 all this month and so it's the perfect time for our "Beauty Vs Beast" series to take a look at a movie that's turning 50 next month (it was released on July 22nd, 1964) and wades so deep into morally murky waters you're never quite sure which end of the screen you're rooting for (if any), making it perfect for this poll - I speak of Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie.

Starring Tippi Hedren as the titular troubled girl turned to theivery and Sean Connery as the businessman alternately turned on and repelled by that rascally blonde's baser instincts, Marnie's awash in dream symbols (so many snapping purses!) and psychiatry talk - too much of the latter by my count; like Hitch's film Spellbound I  always find his movie's at their least interesting when they're explicitly spelling out his psychological obsessions. Give me the fluid illogic of Vertigo over it any day. But like the keys and key-holes that clutter every other frame of Marnie, the film is most interesting as far as the clues it further offers us towards an understanding of Alfred Hitchcock and his never not fascinating psychological profile. It shuffles some not-before-seen puzzle pieces into place.

Hitch was always putting the audience into morally compromising situations, getting us to side with bullies and lunatics - even his most well-intentioned heroes found themselves doing terrible things (think of the scene in the 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much where Jimmy Stewart drugs Doris Day without telling her so he can calm her down). But Marnie for me is the tipping point in Hitch's filmography where his characters become almost uniformly unlikeable; there's an angriness (or worse, an indfference) to the last decade and a half of his work (yes even in the so-called comedy of The Trouble With Harry) - it reaches its apex with Frenzy, a film I find exceedingly unpleasant to watch with its cast of shrewish women and sweaty men (it works as a horror film, but it makes me extraneously sad all the same), but the seeds are planted with Mark and Marnie, two people just a little too damaged and bizarre for me to ever find myself rooting for them in any way.

So why not force us to pick?!


You've got one week to vote and to sell us in the comments on the frigid blonde or the manly man that's come to beat some sanity into her. Choices, oh choices.

PREVIOUSLY And speaking of choices, with last week's poll pitting Natalie Portman's White Swan against Mila Kunis' Black Swan? Y'all couldn't make one! IT'S A TIE, YOU GUYS. 428 votes, split perfectly at 50/50. I can't even tell you how giddy that makes me - the movie about doubling and dopplegangers split us right down the middle. We look in the mirror and we see all of the faces. We are legion. I'll share to two quotes from y'all since we went both ways:

"Nina only cause I don't think Lily would take the loss as hard." -- SVG

"Team Lily because that fierce little Russki NEVER would have fallen flat on her ass on opening night. Get your shit together Nina!" -- TB


Beauty Vs. Beast: Swan Against Swan

JA from MNPP here - it's time for some "Beauty Vs. Beast" yo! We're getting our Aronofsky on this week - I chose to take us back to 2010 for a Black Swan face-off for the specific reason that today is Natalie Portman's 33rd birthday (Happy birthday, Nat!), and it was only after that I mentally connected it to last week's Girl Interrupted face-off - only now, seeing them side by side like this, do the paralells seem striking - two crazy gals feeding off each other's craziness, Winona Ryder talking about oral sex... it's a real double-feature. And I suppose "double" is the operative word...


So pirouette yourself to one side or the other between now and next Monday, folks!

PREVIOUSLY And as for last week's Winona versus Angie showdown, y'all made like the Oscars and gave your love to the big show on the sidelines of Girl Interrupted - Jolie took the title with 62% of your votes. Said David:

"She drove poor, fried-chicken-hording Brittany Murphy to suicide in the first 45 minutes and she was just getting started.... Angelina Jolie wins this by a mile."


Crazy/Possessed Ballerinas. Are There Any Other Kinds? 

In preparation for our two part Horror Best Listing (pre-Exorcist and post-Exorcist which arrives tonight) I caught up with a few classic titles. One of them, briefly discussed on the latest podcast, was Dario Argento's Suspiria (1977). I can't say I took to it exactly, despite being partial to films which boozily strip naked and beg their Production Designer & Cinematographer to f*** them.

slumber parties in horror movies? never a good idea

Suspiria (have you seen it?) starts sort of well, flying right into an unnatural rainstorm with a weirdly off kilter urgency as ballerina Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives in Germany to attend an prestigious ballet academy. But those first two kills are so yuck making the intro a mixed bag for me. For its middle section, which I assume is where the film's classic status derives, the movie does little cul-de-sacs in creepy/garish atmospherics punctuated by two perversely inventive murders. But then, oops, time is up. For its last trick, Suspiria speeds through a dud finale with mood-killing exposition (how was Udo Kier ever this young!?) and badly dated visual effects. By the time the credits appear, it's lost pretty much all of its intermittent unnerving power. For me at least; I understand others really do dig it.

After Suspiria ended, my mind wandered to a more general cinematic question: Are there any silver screen ballerinas that are happy?

See, it seems like screen ballerinas are always batshit crazy whether they're...


...possessed by the occult


The Red Shoes

...dancing feverishly as if possessed by toe shoes


Black Swan

...having psychotic feathered breaks


The Turning Point

...or engaging in neurotic Oscarbait-offs. 


Can you think of any well adjusted ballerinas in fiction?
And if you can't whose your favorite nutjob ballerina?