OSCAR: Is Natalie Portman Overexposed?

For that matter, is Geoffrey Rush’s Oscar chances in The King’s Speech hurt by a dud movie earlier in 2010? Or Justin Timberlake’s in The Social Network by a kid’s movie that came out at Christmas? Or Nicole Kidman’s in Rabbit Hole by a comedy releasing in February? Or James Franco’s in 127 Hours by a soap opera turn during Academy Awards week? The careers of Oscar contenders have taken some strange twists and turns of late. But none more so than that of Natalie Portman, who has new movies opening in theatres in January, February, April, and May, and the marketing for them as already begun to kick in. The question is whether this constant Portman media blitz will help or hurt her Black Swan campaign?

The undisputed specialty hit of the year that has won her Golden Globe, Critics Choice, and SAG nominations also has made Portman one of the frontrunners for the Best Actress Oscar. But just as the first round of voting is going on, she seems to be everywhere, most prominently on billboards and trailers for the January 21st release of No Strings Attached, a comedy directed by Ivan Reitman that asks the question: “Can Sex Friends be Best Friends?” It is indeed a sexy kind of performance demonstrating a different side of her talents and certainly miles away from a demented ballerina.

But that’s not all. There are movie trailers running on the internet and in theatres for her April release Your Highness, another upcoming Portman comedy “from the director of Pineapple Express” in which she plays a female warrior. And yet another trailer for her May release, Thor, the Marvel comic book flick in which she stars as the famed “defender of Earth’s” supportive friend Jane Foster. Not exactly Oscar fodder.

And if that’s not enough, another movie that played the Toronto Film Festival in 2009 under the title Love and Other Impossible Pursuits now has been retitled as The Other Woman for it’s current Video on Demand run preceding a limited theatrical release in February.

It’s doubtful anyone would withhold an Oscar vote just because the girl likes to work. Unless all these films succeed in “Norbit-izing” her run for the gold. Norbit was the DreamWorks film that Eddie Murphy starred in back in early 2007, a fact that was splashed all over Los Angeles billboards just as Oscar voting was going on. Murphy was the odds-on favorite to win Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls, also from DreamWorks, having won the Golden Globe and SAG awards. But many thought the widely seen low-brow comedy’s images of Eddie in gross-out drag contributed to his surprise Oscar loss to Alan Arkin. The movie’s ironic tagline said, “Have you ever made a really big mistake?” — and many think he and Dreamworks did. (Others thought the real reason he lost was because of his unpopularity in Hollywood.)

It’s definitely not a Norbit but Portman’s other movies do provide a distraction at a time when some Oscar watchers I spoke with think it might be better just to have a laser-like focus on her acclaimed Black Swan turn. On the other hand, it proves she’s versatile.

As if all this weren’t enough, it was revealed last week she is pregnant with her first child. That started all kinds of internet buzz on whether this news would increase her Oscar chances further because voters could think of her more warmly since she is in the “family way”? After all, pregnancy didn’t hurt Rachel Weisz’s chances? But last time I checked, Oscar voters are more concerned about the acting performance than the personal life of star contenders — although Elizabeth Taylor often says she only won her first Best Actress statuette for Butterfield 8 because of headlines saying she was dying at the time.

Last year there was similar talk that Sandra Bullock’s Oscar chances could be torpedoed by her simultaneous Razzie nomination for the dreadful All About Steve. She smartly dealt with that problem by promising to show up in person at the Razzies if she won, and she did — exhibiting a great sense of humor and diffusing a potential land mine on the way to winning her Oscar for The Blind Side. The so-called negative Razzie attention might have even helped.

Lots of  contenders this year also have less “Oscar worthy” work swirling around them. It goes with the territory of being a working actor nowadays. But just because he overacts as a drunk gunman in Relativity’s dud The Warriors Way doesn’t mean voters will penalize  Geoffrey Rush who remains a frontrunner for The King’s Speech. Although it’s probably fortunate this Asian spaghetti western disappeared in an instant after its early December release.

Nor does it matter that Justin Timberlake’s name as Boo Boo is so prominently displayed in the ads for Yogi Bear just as he is campaigning feverishly for his breakthrough as a film actor in The Social Network.

Best Actress contender Nicole Kidman is enjoying the best reviews of her career for Rabbit Hole and has made every pundit’s list of likely nominees. So maybe it’s lucky her next film role is so underexposed. She in a supporting role in the Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston comedy Just Go With It. But you would never know it since her name isn’t on the posters and she’s not in the trailer. It’s probably contractual. But still smart to keep the focus strictly on her Rabbit Hole grieving mom role when this laugher opens in February right in the heart of final Oscar voting.

One potential nominee unworried about what others think of his career choices at this crucial time is 127 Hours’ James Franco who is heading for his first Best Actor nod just as he releases You Tube videos with his grandmother lobbying people to see the film. And announces his Oscar week return to the ABC soap opera General Hospital. And is even hosting the Academy Awards. If he wins, his very unorthodox way of conducting an Oscar campaign actually may have helped. Then again, who knows? We haven’t seen anyone approach it this way before.

Of course, last year there was lots of talk about Mo’Nique saying she too busy hosting her BET talk show to campaign for her Best Supporting Actress bid in Precious. Obviously it didn’t hurt her and she stayed the frontrunner throughout the awards season.

Natalie Portman doesn’t have a talk show too, does she?

  1. so a superhero-related role isnt “fodder” for an academy award? ever hear of the “dark night” and its academy award???? also Lord of the Rings ended the Academy’s attitude of NOT giving Oscars to fanatasy adventure pics. I thinnk the same will happen for superhero-related roles as long as the films have a high-quality script & direction.

    hey in the past Hollywood actors & actresses were in more than one or two movies per year and thy still could win an Oscar so this is just getting back to basics.

    I am not the biggest fan of Natalie but more power to her if she has alot of work…AND if she has roles than may give her a shot at an Oscar.

  2. The biggest problem for both Portman and Kidman are both their performances and their films. The Black Swan is awful and every single person I know in the industry who has seen it thinks it was dreadful. Vincent Cassell is one of my favorite actors and even he couldn’t escape the drainpipe on this one. As for Kidman, I saw the film last weekend and the whole thing was antiseptic, the cast and whole feel of the film seemed to be inspired by the Pottery Barn. I call the movie “Barbie and Ken Hurt”, a major letdown considering the talent of John Cameron Mitchell.

    Jennifer Lawrence in Winters Bone and Tilda Swinton in I Am Love both leave those two performances in the dust.

    1. Everyone you know in the industry? Are you the Chips and Dips Guy for Two and Half Men. It doesn’t matter what some PR person or the VP Marketing of a studio thinks of the film. The guild members I know loved Portman’s performances, especially the actors, and that’s what matters at the end of the day. While I don’t disagree re: Swinton and Lawrence, neither of their performances presented as dramatic an onscreen transformation as Portman’s nor a departure from past performances.

  3. Timberlake was terrific in THE SOCIAL NETWORK, both a surprise and a revelation, and I can’t imagine that a voice job in a less well-conceived production will take anything away from that.

  4. Well… I’m already overexposed by Natalie Portman. There is just too much of her everywhere. And it makes me sick and angry actually. Because apparently not only you need to play good role. No. They choose 7-8 best roles of a year and then the one who will campaign the most hard will get Oscar and other awards.

    We saw it last year with Sandra and it’s all repeating again with Natalie Portman now. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore played brilliantly in Kids Are All Right. But we rarely see them. They don’t show up every day. They don’t get pregnant. They don’t go to TV show every night. So we forgot they even exist. It’s only Natalie, Natalie, Natalie… Non-stop.

    I really hope that Annette will get that Oscar. She deserves it a lot more then Natalie. And all those 50 trailers of Portman’s new movies only showed one thing. In every movie trailer she looks like Natalie Portman. I don’t see her characters. I see Natalie Portman. She always look the same. From Star Wars to Thor. She is like more talented version of Jennifer Aniston.

    I don’t like Monique as person. But I respect that she eff all those campaigns. Of course it was easy for her since she was front-runner from beginning. And there wasn’t serious competition if you’ll look at other nominees that year. Otherwise she would never get that Oscar.

    But seriously – those campaigns should stop. I feel sorry for poor Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams every time I see them on another promotion. It’s like they are promoting Blue Valentine for straight 12 month!!! It premiered in January of last year. They are just begging on their knees for those nominations. And they might get it. Because they show up everywhere every day. If they would not – everyone would already forgot about that movie. And those actors have other movies to do. Instead they have to go to another countless interview and say the same things again and again.

    When actors release big blockbusters they have to promote it. But they do it mostly for month or two. And poor Ryan and Michelle have to promote Blue Valentine for 12 month…

    1. I completely agree with your comment.Portman is beautiful but I am not pretty sure she is a good actress and in Black Swan she portrays herself just adding a little bit of histeria.

  5. Sure, she’s overexposed… but that’s how the current media machine is, and if these other films somehow “taint” the aged Oscar voters, then it compounds their irrelevance.

    No Strings Attached looks as bad as How Do You Know, so that could be an issue. But Portman is everywhere, and never looked better in print, so it’s just a question of who they “want to give it to” not if she’s actually deserving or overexposed.

  6. No, she’s just got one movie out and another coming out. She’s a movie star. It’s kind of what they do.

  7. What a weird myopic article. Portman is stellar and she’s been nominated for everything. We shouldn’t fret too much about her career, and I know this sounds crazy, but perhaps her whole life doesn’t hinge around the naked gold guy.

  8. It would be nice if the person who deserves the most recognition for their work in their film actually wins rather than silly politics or campaigning, or it being dependent on which film grossed more box office cash. It makes the Oscars more about who has the best speech (did they make you cry/did they make you laugh) and which celeb looked the most ravishing, rather than who is the most deserving. Personally, I enjoyed Michelle Williams performance the most so far although admittedly I haven’t seen a few of the others. But if I got to vote, I would make sure that I actually watched all the performances before I made my choice. Otherwise it truly seems to come down to a mere popularity contest.

  9. This is real terrific question.
    Frankly I don’t think Natalie P. is overexposed at all. My definition of over exposure if she did Jay Leno,David Letterman,George Lopez and Conan. Now one could argue that the Black Swan the movie could be overexposed due to so much publicity from the net.

  10. In the end, I think most people vote for the performance — I don’t believe that the hit Norbit hurt Eddie Murphy — you forget he’s not very well liked in hollywood. But I really hope that they don’t reward Natalie Portman — she did not give the performance of the year in the crazed filled Black swan — it was Nicole Kidman in Rabbit hole who deserves the oscar.

  11. What SHOULD hurt Natalie Portman is that she’s an extremely limited actress. She’s been mediocre-to-awful in almost everything – her nod for Closer was a joke. If she wins for Swan it will be because of the movie’s hype, and her extremely powerful connections. In my world (I know, I know) Kim Hye-Ja (“Mother”) or Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) should be the BA frontrunners.

  12. Natalie isn’t but man I can’t turn around without hearing about The Social Network… that’s overexposed.

  13. Seriously: the only 2 commercials which seem to be playing on TV these days are: Black Swan (She’s G O N E!!!) and what appears to be the worse dribble since Valentine’s Day or How Do you Know (oh, trust me, we K N O W your movie’s a stinker) in NSA.

  14. In Portman’s case, all these movies and publicity is only going to help her win. And if she does win, at least she doesn’t have to face the Oscar curse–making bad movies, since her movies have already been made.

  15. I hope Franco wins for 127 Hours, easily the best Male performance of the year, and shame on the academy for snubbing Danny Boyle’s kinetic film about a man stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  16. Why in the world would ANY actress with any type of career going (much less a respected actress like Portman) agree to star in a movie with ASHTON KUTCHER for crying out loud? She doesn’t elevate him; he brings her WAY DOWN.

  17. Natalie did a outstanding job in Black Swan. She is not over exposed but simply hard working and dedicated to her job. She deserves every bit of it!

  18. Yet again, I posted a comment critical of Portman, and yet again it mysteriously disappeared…..boy, her PR lackeys must lurk in every corner….

    1. I think that you’re a little on the paranoid side — have you read the other comments? There are lots of negative-Natalie opinions posted. You have to click on the “Submit Your Comment” button, you moron.

  19. Nicole is more hurt by the sycophantic Jennifer Aniston interviewing her in this months Harper’s Bazarre, than by anything else. I mean, it really is revolting. Who booked Kidman that gig anyway?

  20. I have a keen radar for overexposure of any kind. Natalie Portman hasn’t registered so much as a bleep on said radar. This is nothing more than buzzkill.

    Overexposed is Jennifer Aniston following every (bad) movie she makes. Overexposed is anything to do with Gwyneth Paltrow right now promoting “Country Strong.” What she’s being advised to do to save that movie is cringeworthy. Somebody stop her.

    I was not a big fan of “Black Swan.” Still I have nothing but praise for Natalie’s performance. I hope nothing takes away from that and that she can enjoy whatever praise or awards may come her way. Very classy and deserving talent.

    1. Good call about Gwyneth Paltrow being overexposed for Country Strong… Funny though because even though she was everywhere the past few months (From CMA Awards to Glee?) it didn’t make me want to see the movie

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