Natalie Portman has been a top actress in Hollywood as long as I can remember. Since her Hollywood debut at the age of 11, Portman has proven herself to be a powerhouse in cinema (as well as in the classroom) and is definitely a force to be reckoned with. After all, she was just nominated for her third Oscar this morning for her role as Jackie Kennedy in Jackie.
She took home her first and only Oscar statue (so far) for her role in Black Swan, but she's had high accolades coming for a long time. Over the years, she has displayed a consistent level of versatility and has proven she can just about play any role and do it well. Here are my seven favorite performances from Portman since her debut, and I wish Natalie the best of luck when the 89th annual #AcademyAwards air on February 26, 2017.
7. Anywhere But Here (1999)
I feel like Anywhere But Here is a forgotten movie to most people, which is a shame because it's actually really good. The movie tells the story of a free-spirited mother who decides to move to California with her daughter to start a new life. Portman shared the screen with Susan Sarandon in this mother-daughter story of acceptance, perseverance and growing up.
Portman's portrayal of Ann August was quite complex and it's rather impressive that she was able to deliver such depth at just 17 years old. Ann was believable, emotional and very easy for viewers to relate to. She brought the character to life in a way most teenagers wouldn't have been able to do, and it's truly one of her best performances to date.
6. Brothers (2009)
Brothers is another film that I feel is a bit underrated. Not only is the cast great, but Portman's performance as Grace Cahill was emotional and a solid display of the struggles that a military family can face.
This role brought Natalie Portman into some fresh territory as she plays the wife of a United States Marine thought to be killed in action. This was one of the first times we saw Portman in a more dramatic adult role, in terms of handling the duties of a wife and mother left to move forward alone as her husband is deployed to Afghanistan. While sharing the screen with both #JakeGyllenhaal and #TobeyMaguire, she definitely had a lot to work with and she did a fantastic job.
5. V for Vendetta (2005)
If you've never seen V for Vendetta, you're seriously missing out because it is a great movie. The graphic novel adaptation is full of great casting, great performances and a great script. Arguably, this could (and perhaps should) have earned Portman an Oscar nomination, but we all know how the Academy is with movies like this.
In V for Vendetta, she plays Evie, a young woman who is taken under the influence of a masked revolutionary named V in an attempt to overthrow tyranny and oppression in a futuristic London. Portman put everything into this and it's obvious as you watch it. Her fear, dedication and emotion is believable to a point where it can move you to tears. Not to mention her shaving her head on screen was quite shocking, and not as common then as it might be now.
4. Closer (2004)
Closer gained Portman her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 2005, and it was well deserved. Although she didn't win, that doesn't mean this is a performance to overlook.
Portman plays Alice, an American who lands abroad and suddenly enters a relationship with an indecisive and unhappy journalist played by Jude Law. In a story filled with dishonesty, infidelity, sexual tension, deceit and pain, there is truth with Alice in a way that you won't understand until you get to her moment of clarity. It is a great performance and Alice is no doubt one of the best characters Portman has brought to life on screen.
3. Leon: The Professional (1994)
Natalie Portman's Hollywood debut wasn't typical. She broke onto the scene at the age of 11 when she landed the lead role in Luc Besson's crime thriller, Leon: The Professional.
Portman played Mathilda, a 12-year-old who is taken in by an assassin after her family is murdered. The way she channeled this character is amazing enough (especially considering her age at the time), but you can see a sense of curiosity that she naturally brought. It's just a joy to watch and proves that Portman has been a force to be reckoned with since day one.
2. Garden State (2004)
Garden State is another movie that should have earned Portman an Oscar, or at least a nomination (damn it, Academy!). It's a movie you should just sit down and watch right now.
Portman stars opposite Zach Braff as Samantha, an epileptic pathological liar who comes across Braff's character Andrew by complete chance. As the story goes on, you see aspects of Samantha that you might not expect, and we have Portman to thank for that. The way she captures the character is fantastic in the sense that she's so believable. You feel like Samantha is a friend you had in high school and you're right there watching this relationship unfold. The character's raw emotion (and outright unconventional behavior) is something that only Natalie Portman can bring.
1. Black Swan (2010)
It might seem cliche to say the Oscar-winning performance is the best, but in this case it truly is. With Black Swan, Natalie Portman earned her first Oscar for the portrayal of Nina Sayers, and she took us so far deep into the psyche of the troubled ballerina that it's almost frightening at times. Nina's sanity and dedication is pushed to the limit as she struggles to reach perfection in capturing both the black and the white swan.
The thing I love about Black Swan in general is the way you can keep trying to analyze the details over and over again, and a lot of that comes from Portman's performance. The way she leads us into the mind of this ballerina is captivating and scary, and there isn't really a dull moment when you know who she is going to be in the next scene.
The other aspect of this performance was Portman's physical and off-screen dedication to it. She molded her body into a ballerina's by losing weight, toning her muscles and taking ballet lessons. Although she did have a stunt double, a good majority of the dancing in the film was performed by Portman herself. It deserved all the recognition in the world, and there is a reason she took home more than 30 awards for the role.