Natalie Portman won the Oscar as best actress on Sunday for her role as an unhinged ballerina in the thriller “Black Swan,” while fellow nominee Annette Bening went home empty-handed for the fourth time in her career.
The 29-year-old Israeli-American actress, considered the leading favorite after dominating other film awards shows leading up to the Oscars, was visibly overwhelmed as she expressed her gratitude in a trembling voice, and occasional stammer.
“I truly wish the prize ... was to get to work with my fellow nominees,” said the pregnant Portman, clad in a flowing aubergine Rodarte with just a hint of a tummy bulge showing.
Portman trained five hours a day for six months to prepare for “Black Swan,” a project she and director Darren Aronofsky first discussed about nine years ago. When they started shooting the film in 2009, it had yet to secure financing.
Her character, desperately insecure and possibly still a virgin, contends with professional jealousies and rivalries as she secures the dual lead roles in the ballet classic “Swan Lake.”
The film was a commercial and critical hit, with worldwide ticket sales of more than $200 million. As a bonus, Portman last year announced she was pregnant and would marry the baby’s father, a dancer she met on the “Black Swan” set.
The film raised eyebrows, and drew considerable media hype, for its explicit lesbian sex scene between Portman and co-star Mila Kunis.
Portman faced competition for the Academy Award from four-time nominee Bening for “The Kids Are All Right,” as well as from Oscar winner Kidman for “Rabbit Hole,” Jennifer Lawrence for “Winter’s Bone” and Michelle Williams for “Blue Valentine.”
Portman previously received an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in the 2004 film “Closer.”
Born in Jerusalem, she moved to the United States as a youngster and made her feature film debut in 1994 playing a 12-year-old girl who ends up in the care of the hired killer who assassinated her parents in “The Professional.”