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Natalie Portman IS the Black Swan

Black Swan (2010) by Darren Aronofsky

When I watched V for Vendetta late last year I was quite amazed at how good Natalie Portman was in it. Not because she was good but how good. I was never a fan of hers but I always regarded her as a talented actress. Well, V for Vendetta convinced me that there was more than talent but Black Swan

Every now and then (but probably not that often) you watch a performance by an actress that just blows you away. Even an hour after leaving the theater you feel drugged and dazed and confused. Such a performance I saw in Black Swan by Natalie Portman. It was amazing, it was catching, it was sad and heart-wrenching, stunning, and, yes, sexy.

I’m still over-whelmed to tell the truth. From the first moment Natalie Portman appeared on screen she was like a force I could not look away from. And it was not just her. The female cast seemed to take their cues from her and showed amazing performances. Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, they were all brilliant. But Natalie Portman was breathtaking.

You might wonder if I did not think Vincent Cassel was good as well but honestly I did not even see him. Maybe that is because I think women are the better actors per se, or maybe I just ignore men per se, I don’t know but this movie was made by the women in it not by Vincent Cassel.

And I also don’t want to talk about the story because I would have to unearth some of the raw clichés that inhabit the movie and the fact that it bows to heteronormative standards in the end. And I don’t want to do that. It would make me cherish the movie less and nothing should lessen the joy, the enjoyment, the amusement, the horror I felt watching this movie. It was truly a pleasure.

And if you ask me what it’s about I’d say: A woman who admires another woman, wants to be like her, wants to be her, wants to be with her. Not necessarily in that order and you are never sure which woman is which and what the others have to do with it… it’s complicated and gripping and frightening.

It is almost comical how glad I am these days to see Winona Ryder again. I could almost imagine watching The Dilemma. Almost.

Well, the Oscars are coming up and, of course, there was no way around Natalie Portman and her performance and I hope everyone in the Academy will vote for her. I bow to Ms. Portman.

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And the Oscar goes to…

I remember a time when the Oscars were not available for every movie lover to watch – in Germany, that is. And so, I always try to watch it which is not as easy as it sounds since I do not own a tv set and I do not even have internet at the moment. So, I watched it over at my sister’s and we actually made our bets and saw some surprises unfold – and Kate Winslet (which is for some – so as not to say for me – the best part of the evening). [Just to make it clear: she did not unfold herself, the surprises did. She was there and it is no coincidence that there is no “just” in this sentence.]

I personally like the red carpet pre-show a lot. That is, I used to like it a lot, now people are just rushing from one reporter to the next and there are more people pushing stars around than actual stars to ask questions, and these organizing people are quite pushy! But there were sights to be seen none the less, everybody was beautiful and nice (though Sandra Bullock seemed a little tight, didn’t she —- I guess that was just her nervousness, well-deserved nervousness). Kate looked stunning, then again that is a given since we’re talking about Kate. George Clooney, though, was the coolest because instead of talking to reporters he went to the other side of the carpet and signed autographs for the fans there. Well done!

Then the Oscars began and Neil Patrick Harris sang a song. For my part, every award show could start with Neil Patrick Harris singing, loved it. And it makes the whole event a little gay-friendly to start with and that can’t be wrong. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin hosted and they were very well matched.

Okay, since I do not want to reminisce the whole thing word by word, here are the highlights (highlights for me are not necessarily highlights for everybody else but sometimes I coincidentally match the opinion of everybody else. Strange, how that happens, really.). Kate Winslet. The jokes about Meryl Streep were hilarious. I think by now she should be put on the list of nominees even if she had not made a movie (like that will ever happen!). Just because she is Meryl Streep and she is always at the Oscars and always good-humored and fun to watch. I would not want to watch an Oscar-show without her. When is she hosting, already? Then again, only people who are not nominated are hosting — fat chance of that ever happening to Meryl.

I cheered for Mo’nique a lot. Once, because I had actually seen the movie she was in and because she was so good in it. And because she was right in her speech to say that a lot of times Hollywood (and therefore the Oscars) is about politics. And as far as I remember she was the only African American who won at the awards who mentioned Hattie McDaniel in her speech. When Halle Berry won her Oscar for “Monster’s Ball” she seemed to have forgotten that there had been an African American woman who had ever won an Oscar before her, not to mention that it happened 1939. Which reminds me of a question on of you might be able to answer: Since “Gone With The Wind” premiered in Atlanta (which means, the South), did Hattie McDaniel sit among the white audience? Was she there at all?

A lot of the movies that were nominated had not even been shown in Germany. For example, “The Blind Side.” I have only watched two of the nominated movies so far: “Precious” and “Inglorious Basterds.” I liked them both and was happy for Christoph Waltz to have won the Oscar for his role as Nazi. I guess, it still holds true that Austrians are the better Nazis, there still has to be a German one to win anything. Yeah, I know… But let me tell you, the experience of watching “Inglorious Basterds” as a German is a little different from watching it anywhere else in the world.

I was a little confused about where Tina Fey went. She was interviewed on the red carpet with Steve Carrell and they were supposed to present together and suddenly Cameron Diaz stood beside Carrell when presenting. Where did Tina Fey go? Did she have such a good time sharing jokes with Baldwin and Martin behind the scenes that she forgot to come on? Did she walk ascend or descend one of those dangerous looking stairs and fall and break a leg/a neck? Will we ever know? Whatever happened I hope someone has secured the crime scene.

Sandra Bullock held a great acceptance speech. She is at least the second leading actress in a row to mention Meryl Streep in her speech. While last year Kate told Meryl to “suck it up,” Sandra dwelled on the kiss she shared with Streep at another award show and finally called her her lover. Uhhhhhh…. Nice one, Sandy.

Barbra Streisand presented “Best Directing” and I was reminded of the Preliminaries of the Democrat Party in 2008 when Bee told us that it could be the first time a female director could win or an African American. Well, we know how those Preliminaries went, it was just the other way around at the Oscars. The woman won. And I was wrong once again, because this time I had my money on the African American. More precisely: Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for “The Hurt Locker,” Lee Daniels did not win for “Precious.” I think, it is a little sad, that these things have to be accentuated so much. But Hollywood IS a sexist and a racist place… and the Oscars are a good place to accentuate it. So much for a non-politcal Academy Awards show.

I cannot think of anything else that I would refer to as a highlight. The dancers were cool, though. Great performance!

Sean Penn looked a little bit worse for wear – maybe that was just my impression. And I for one do not like it when some people are too uppity to sit in the audience during the show but present an Oscar – like Tom Hanks and Barbra Streisand. Usually, I would not criticize Barbra (I am a really huge fan!) but… I don’t know – it feels like some people are better than others. I mean, we already know that the Oscars is a class act, actors/actresses are sorted into A-, B-, C- and other Lists. But this sort of thing leaves one wondering if there wasn’t something like a super-A-List. And I don’t know about you but for many of those people on that list I would not even buy a ticket (i.e. Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson [if he is still on that list], Tom Hanks – I am sure, there are women I would not buy a ticket for but Bee is not one of them, then again, are there women on that list beside Barbra?).

Well, it was a nice show. And I am actually grateful that “Avatar” did not get too many Oscars. The movie is huge and everybody knows it. It’s important to make other movies that do not get the same attention (especially worldwide) known to a bigger audience.

One word to Kate Winslet: I am obsessed with her, it’s true. If I was stalker material she would have had one since 1998, luckily for her, I much rather sit in front of a screen than in a tree looking into other people’s bedrooms (has anyone of you ever considered the close link between Paparazzi and stalker? Do.). She looks more stunning everytime I see her – and especially at the Oscars. And there are not many people who can pull off telling Meryl Streep to “suck it up” but she did and I lover her the more for it. To me, Kate Winslet is the ideal, the perfect woman, my muse.