'Black Swan' - What Did You Think?

Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan hit theaters a few weeks ago, but has been expanding wider and wider each week. There's a good chance that if you live near a theater, you'll have the opportunity to see it this weekend, and many of you already have (the movie is doing gangbusters at the box office, making over $22 million to date).

Aronofsky hasn't yet made a film that I haven't liked/loved and after 2008's The Wrestler, his name finally began entering the popular consciousness. With Christmas upon us, and many families and couples flocking to the theaters this weekend, we thought it would be a good opportunity to ask: What did you think of Aronofsky's latest film? Is it a worthy follow-up to The Wrestler? Does it live up to the rest of Aronofsky's oeuvre? Does Natalie Portman really deliver an Oscar-worthy performance? And what of Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and Winona Ryder? Hit the jump for some brief thoughts, and to leave your own in the comments. Spoilers follow from this point forward.

If there's anything that Aronofsky is good at, it's taking us into the mind of his protagonists. We are privy to Max Cohen's suffering genius in Pi. We grieve right along with Tommy, as he mourns the tragic death of his wife in The Fountain. We feel for Randy "The Ram," who just can't seem to make things right outside of the ring in The Wrestler. And in Black Swan, we are right along Natalie Portman as she descends into madness.

Black Swan gives us the thrills and excitement associated with a ballet story along with the trappings of a psychological thriller. I haven't been a huge fan of Portman's acting in the past, but I think she nails her role as Nina, a talented shrinking flower who finds herself in the highly coveted role of the Swan Queen. Her and co-star Mila Kunis trained for months to play ballerinas and it shows; they are convincing in their roles, and convincingly different in their styles. Portman's transformation towards the end of the film is what gives Black Swan its power, and what elevates this film above many other thrillers (and many other ballet movies, for that matter). Truly, an Oscar nomination is a lock for her, and a win may be imminent.

Aronofsky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique shoot Black Swan's ballet scenes up close with what appears to be mostly-handheld, eschewing the wide shots that normally accompany such films. Some may find this distracting, but I found it an immersive, riveting, and unique way to draw the audience into these scenes.

In short, I thought Black Swan was a great thriller anchored by a great performance and some amazing camera work. What did you guys think of the film?