7 Days of Oscar: Madness and Natalie Portman Take Center Stage in ‘Black Swan’

In Black Swan, nominated for a Best Picture Oscar among others, the backstage drama involving Nina (Natalie Portman), a real-life ballet princess living the fairy-tale of starring in a new production of Swan Lake, include a smothering stage mother, a manipulative director, a bitter veteran and a competitive newcomer intent on taking her spot. But the climax occurs front and center as Nina takes a final leap in front of a mesmerized audience in order to achieve the perfect performance of the Swan Queen.

Portman’s career leap with Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky continues to pay off with the 29-year-old actress as the Oscar frontrunner for Actress in a Leading Role. For Aronofsky, Black Swan is what we’ve come to expect from the director of edgy fare like The Fountain and Requiem for a Dream. For Portman, her performance as Nina is something we’ve never seen from her before.

“Darren and I started talking about this film eight years ago,” Portman said, speaking earlier at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Yeah, we were in the dorms late one night,” she added jokingly. “But in fact the long period that it took to get the film in place enabled Darren to have the entire idea of the film in place. It was not written out but all the themes were in place. All the plot points and the whole environment were sitting in the back of his mind after eight years. It was a great help.”

All of Portman’s hard work looks to pay off Sunday when the 83rd Academy Awards are announced in Los Angeles. It’s the rare, happy ending that would make a Swan Queen smile.

The Oscars, co-hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway, air 8 p.m. EST Sunday on ABC. Look for live commentary via Twitter @originalfeed

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