Did Natalie Portman deserve the Oscar?

By Kim Giordano


black swan latimes
(Courtesy of the LA Times)

Natalie Portman should feel on top of the world right now. Her Academy Award- nominated movie is came out on DVD yesterday, she just won her first Oscar and she is engaged to her choreographer and pregnant with their first baby. “Black Swan,” arguably Portman’s most critically-acclaimed film to date, has generated quite the controversy this week after her dance double made claims that Natalie did a lot less of her own dancing than originally thought by the public.

Sarah Lane, an American Ballet Theatre soloist that doubled for her harder dance moves, recently objected to Benjamin Millipied’s (Portnman’s fiance) statement that, “85% of that movie [“Black Swan”] is Natalie.” In a recent LA Times article, Lane claimed that only 5% of the movie is Natalie and the rest of the body shots are of her. The double says that she is the victim of a “cover-up” in order to make it seem as though Natalie did most of the dancing and the producers fail to give proper recognition. Lane is also bitter about only being credited in the film as “Hand Model,” “Stunt Double” and “Lady in the Lane” and was forbidden to speak out about her work during award season.

When I first read Sarah Lane’s article in the LA Times, I felt extremely disappointed and cheated (as I’m sure many other viewers felt). Recently though, there has been a considerable amount of people speaking out on behalf of Natalie, claiming that the accusations made by Lane are false. The filmmakers and studio immediately issued a statement that supported Natalie, saying she did most of the dancing in the film. Her co-star, Mila Kunis, recently shared her thoughts, “Natalie danced her a– off. I think it’s unfortunate that this is coming out and taking attention away from [the praise] Natalie deserved and got.”

Maybe even most importantly, the film’s director, Darren Aronofsky, has come forward and presented very specific facts concerning the number of shots in the film stating, “There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math that’s 80% Natalie Portman.”

Fear not “Black Swan” fans, with all of those speaking out on behalf of Natalie, especially now that the director has provided the specifics of the shots and duration, I think it’s safe to say Natalie did do most of her dancing. I’m going to chalk this whole thing up to jealousy. Portman did an exceptional job in this film, physically and emotionally. It is clear that she worked very hard and committed a lot to this role and she deserved all the praise and awards she received. Even if this entire controversy turned out to be true, I would still think Portman deserved the Oscar. The emotional performance she created still outweighed any other nominees this year, and the fact that she did most of her dancing on top of that, is just beyond impressive.