3. Black Swan
Firstly: this film is NUTS. There were many times during both my first and second viewing of this film where the only thoughts that passed through my head was: "Is this seriously fucking happening." Much like my discussion of Inception I'll try not to give anything away, but I will say that the last 20 minutes of this film were easily the most over the top of the past year in cinema. The plot is straightforward. It follows the journey into insanity of the ballerina Nina Sayers (played wonderfully by the always great Natalie Portman) after aquisition of the role of the swan princess in tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake.
The subtle art direction and costume design really add to the film without being too 'in your face' such as with Alice in Wonderland or other films of the like. The cinematography is equally effective with some splendid handheld moments as well as beautiful close-ups. The editing was also splendidly done, and really helped in the unnerving nature of the film.
What I find so interesting (and slightly humorous about the project) is how dichotomous in nature this film is to Aronofsky's last project The Wrestler. Both films chronicle the struggles of two performers and their subsequent descents into 'oblivion'. One is heartbreaking, the other horrifying. Both: Phenominal.
The performance by Portman is the clear standout, with some people even calling it an 'acting vehicle' for her. I disagree, considering the all around gret performances by the entire cast. Portman still shines naturally, especially in the more heartfelt moments, such as the phonecall to her mother after she gets the part. Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Rider also do very decent jobs in their parts. I will have to say I'm glad that Kunis wasn't nominated as many predicted. She added some nice brevity to the film, but she didn't add up to the 5 women nominated, nor some of the ones who weren't.
All in all this film was explosive, exciting, frightening, and fantastic. This is easily a psychological thriller that will be remembered for years to come.