Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lazy Sunday #160: The Award Is For Being Exceptional, Right?


About halfway through "Black Swan" I started hoping that Leon from "The Professional" would bust in to blow away the creepy ballet maestro perving his lead dancer. That's how much I like Natalie Portman.

It's been a huge pleasure watching her grow and grow up as an actress, where great performances in "Beautiful Girls", "Closer" and "V for Vendetta" have more than made up for the "Star Wars" prequels and "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium".

So while I'm kinda hoping she wins an Oscar for her performance in "Black Swan", part of me hopes she might not, so her career will be asterisked by winning one in the future for a much better film.

I'm not saying that I thought "Black Swan" was a bad movie. I just never felt it deserved the level of adulation it got.

Maybe the trailer had set me up to expect a psycho thriller instead of a slightly darker Lifetime movie about Bulimia and body image issues.

Maybe I expected it to delve into the Life versus Art dilemma of "The Red Shoes", or use dance to convey added dimensions of character like "Chicago" or even "Footloose".

But it didn't do any of those things and in the end I felt like I was watching Darren Aronofsky's last film, "The Wrestler", all over again -- right down to the titular character dying to give the crowd what it wants.

And as good as Natalie Portman was at keeping my attention through all of that and even making me continue to care about her character, can you really give an Academy Award to an actress when so much of her role was assayed by body doubles and two different stand-in dancers? 

That's a roundabout way of saying if Natalie wins I'll feel a little bit like she's in the company of Al Pacino and Paul Newman, both of whom, despite careers of remarkable performances won for less than spectacular turns in "Scent of a Woman" and "The Color of Money" respectively.

But if she loses, no matter who she loses to, that'll be okay too. Because there are four stunningly powerful performances competing with her, and she's good enough that her time will come.

Meanwhile, here's a version of Swan Lake that nobody in Hollywood could dream up but is more than deserving of recognition for being exceptional.

Enjoy it. Enjoy tonight's Academy Awards. And Enjoy your Sunday.

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