Black Swan (2010)
Brief review: After the phenomenal "Requiem for a Dream", and the visually-striking "The Fountain", Darren Aronofsky brings us yet another twistedly-genius masterpiece, this time revolving around a professional ballet dancer, Nina, who is dealing with the pressures of playing The Swan Queen in her companies production of Swan Lake. Though melodramatic "Black Swan" has a truly macabre nature, as it grows darker and darker as the story progresses, leading to a shocking and dramatic finale, that will have you thinking long after the credits roll. "Black Swan" is a haunting, surreal and mesmerizing experience that leaves audiences with many questions and debatable discussions, about what is real and what is imaginary. It fascinates with dazzling execution, specific visual style, flawless camera work, and a sharp and intentionally lurid cinematography that creates an additional sense of fear in the viewer. All this accompanied with a thoroughly striking classical music score by Tchaikovsky. With her haunting and beautifully-disturbing portrayal of Nina, a repressed and sexually-confused ballerina obsessed with perfection, Natalie Portman delivers not only the best female performance of 2010, but the performance of her career. She's intense, yet delicate. Determined, yet vulnerable. Innocent, yet lustful. A perfectionist, yet flawed. She's simply sensational! Mila Kunis also gives an outstanding and very complex performance as Nina's rival, Lily, and Vincent Cassel has incredible screen presence as the seductive manipulator and ballet director, Thomas. Winona Ryder is brilliant as the neurotic former ballet star, Beth, but it's Barbara Hershey that delivers the best supporting performance as the quietly frightening mother.