‘Jackie’ reviews: Natalie Portman aims for 2nd Oscar for performance that is the ‘pinnacle’ of her career

Jackie” opened Friday, December 2, to rave reviews from critics, scoring 81 on MetaCritic and 88% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. Film journos have specifically singled out Natalie Portman for her “revelation” of a performance in the title role. She plays First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the aftermath of the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, and it’s “the pinnacle of her performances.”

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That’s high praise given that Portman already has one Oscar under her belt (Best Actress for “Black Swan,” 2010) as well as another nomination (Best Supporting Actress for “Closer,” 2004). Now she’s aiming for her second victory, and it looks like she just might get it: she ranks a close second the Emma Stone (“La La Land”) in our Experts’ latest predictions.

But “Jackie” is not just a showcase for Portman. Critics are lauding the film as a whole for the “bravura filmmaking” by director Pablo Larrain, whose 2012 Chilean film “No” was an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. “Let’s all thank our lucky stars” that Larrain avoids the usual pitfalls of the Hollywood biopic with “moments of lightness and strangeness.”

Dish ‘Jackie’ with Hollywood insiders in our notorious forums

Do you think Portman and Larrain are Oscar bound? Check out some of the reviews below and join the discussion in our forums.

Manohla Dargis (New York Times): “‘What does this specific human being think?’ The Chilean director Pablo Larrain, making his first English-language feature, takes this query and his title subject seriously but without deadening self-importance. The film has the requisite surface fidelity … But it also has moments of lightness and strangeness, as well as kinks and sour notes, which strengthens the sense that these are people, not figurines in a dutiful, paint-by-numbers biopic.”

April Wolfe (Village Voice): “Portman has had a small succession of parts that have allowed her expand beyond stereotypical female roles, but this portrayal, which never gives in to the Lady Macbeth insanity that it could have, is the pinnacle of her performances … And Noah Oppenheim‘s script is rife with the kind of dialogue an actress would sell her soul for: witty, provocative, layered, and meaningful beyond the scope of this story.”

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Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly): “No amount of bravura filmmaking matters, of course, without a Jackie we can believe in. And Natalie Portman’s First Lady is a revelation, not only technically precise — she nails the fluttery-bird gestures and breathy mid-Atlantic accent, and possibly outpaces the original in cheekbones — but remarkable in its psychological layers.”

Jessica Kiang (The Playlist): “There is a broad, prestige Oscar-bait biopic that ‘Jackie, Starring Natalie Portman As Tragically Bereaved First Lady Jackie Kennedy!’ implies … ‘Jackie’ is not that movie. It may be a portrait of a very famous American, starring a very famous Oscar-winning actress and it may be in English (the Chilean director’s first such), but ‘Jackie’ is a Pablo Larraín film. Let’s all thank our lucky stars.”

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Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. How do you think “Jackie” will do with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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