Missed Oscartunities – Natalie Portman

When talking Best Actress snubs, my mind goes to one place and one place only…the 2017 Oscars. I know you’re thinking “Amy Adams in Arrival,” but I’m still hung up on Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy in Pablo Larraín’s Jackie. (But yes, Meryl absolutely stole Adams’ nomination!)

Traditional biopics are not typically my kind of film, but with Larraín’s Jackie, I was interested right from the announcement. Originally, the film was going to be directed by Darren Aronofsky starring his then partner Rachel Weisz. When their romantic relationship ended, both exited the project. Rumor has it that Portman was approached in hopes of getting Aronofsky back in the project. Aronofsky approached Larraín at a film festival to direct the film but was met with resistance. Eventually, both Portman and Larraín signed onto the film and the rest is HISTORY! Cinematic history!

While Portman was not the front runner nor the runner up, hello Isabelle Huppert, but to me, Portman gave the best performance of 2016. Biopics, particularly in the Lead Actress category, typically perform well. Think of Meryl Streep as the titular Iron Lady, Marion Cotillard as Édith Piaf or even our most recent winner, Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye Bakker. At the start of the 2017 Oscars season, I thought Portman had the win in the bag! Not only was it a biopic of an American icon, but the performance would bring us accent work, yelling, crying, everything the Academy asks for!

Portman gave us such an intimate performance of someone who is such a beloved American figure. The film gave us what felt like such a private look into Kennedy’s life and with combined with the beautiful cinematography, haunting score and stunning costume design, this film was elevated far above the traditional biopic. Dare I say..elevated biopic?

The performance from Portman in Jackie not only gives us incredible accent work, but the quiet moments shine even more for me. The grief, anger and sometimes doubt are in her gestures that even when she is still or not speaking, I felt Portman embodied Jacqueline Kennedy. The beautiful recreation of the famous White House tour allows Portman to do so much, but not in a big “I’m acting!!” way, in such a natural way.

While I understand Jackie is not a traditional biopic in a sense, it is still a biopic. I truly thought the genre would persevere Portman to a win. We’ve seen Best Actress wins tied to craft nominations quite often and not highly dependent on a Best Picture nomination for the film. I did hold hope Portman could pull off a win somehow, but Emma Stone prevailed after all. Well here’s to the fools who dream!

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