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The 10 best Natalie Portman movies

The best Natalie Portman movies prove that she can go from America’s sweetheart to out-of-this-galaxy royalty

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
By Alyssa Ammirato |

Watching the best Natalie Portman movies is a trip back in time through the actor’s lifetime, starting when she made her film debut at age 12 in the role of a child who wants to be an assassin. Through her 22-year career, she’s gone from small-town troubled teen to action movies extraordinaire to star of some of the best movies of all time. Oh, and she graduated from Harvard somewhere in the meantime. Cue up the movies on Netflix and start binging.

Best Natalie Portman movies

The Black Swan
Movies, Thriller

Black Swan (2010)

It’s not a career; it’s a passion. Ballet is Nina’s whole life, and when Portman took on the role she trained like a real ballerina, too. In the horror drama, she begins to unravel when she’s batted around by newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis). It’s a side of Portman seldom seen and anxiously enjoyed.

V for Vendetta
Photograph: Courtesy David Appleby

V for Vendetta (2005)

Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore, this movie has Portman trying her hand at fighting the man alongside an eccentric masked vigilante—and famously getting her head shaved. As Evey helps V take down a corrupt British government, Guy Fawkes masks went flying off party supply stores’ shelves.

Anywhere but Here

Anywhere but Here (1999)

Ann August seems like a sweet girl with an eccentric mom, but the closer you look at this underrated dramedy, the more layers you see to the sometimes cringe-inducing mother/daughter relationship portrayed by Portman and Susan Sarandon. And we’ve never seen a resting bitch face quite like Portman’s.

Garden State
Movies, Drama

Garden State (2004)

In Zach Braff’s directorial debut, Portman familiarized the world with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl—the lost but sage female character you envy and hate in the same breath. She, a compulsive liar, helps the leading man over his emotional hurdles with a wink and nudge to her own.


Closer (2004)

Neon-pink-coiffed Alice is the object of writer Dan’s affection, who whisks her to London only to fall for another woman...whose guy, Larry, lands in bed with Alice. Got that? It might take a second viewing for the tangled web to weave some sense, but Portman as a stripper is Portman like you’ve never seen her before.

The Other Boleyn Girl
Movies, Action and adventure

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Before Downton Abbey had us all obsessed with centuries-ago England, The Other Boleyn Girl (set a few hundred years prior to the BBC hit) saw corset-clad girls bringing all the royal boys to the yard. Portman and Scarlett Johansson do their best to bring life to the sometimes-dull movie about sisters vying for the king’s affections, an adaption of the novel by Philippa Gregory.

No Strings Attached
Photograph: Courtesy Dale Robinette
Movies, Comedy

No Strings Attached (2011)

At its best, it’s a little easier to swallow than most rom-coms with a plot so predictably retro you could write it yourself. At its worst, it pales in comparison to Friends with Benefits, the Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis version with the same storyline that came out the same year. (What did we just say about predicability?) Either way, it’s an improved telling of what happens these days when boy meets girl.

Léon: The Professional
Movies, Action and adventure

Léon: The Professional (1994)

For her feature film debut, a fresh-faced Portman plays 12-year-old Mathilda, a girl left orphaned until a begrudging hitman takes her in. It’s under his tutelage that she learns the assassin’s trade with a revenge plot of her own in mind.

Where the Heart Is
Movies, Comedy

Where the Heart Is (2000)

In the middle of nowhere, Portman’s Novalee Nation gives birth in a Wal-Mart, becomes a teen mom in a world without MTV and becomes part of a hodgepodge of characters to create a new family for herself and pick up the pieces of her life. It’s not the best movie, but Portman is easily the standout.

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