Natalie Portman Jackie Natalie Portman Jackie A first look at Natalie Portman as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the biopic 'Jackie.' (Photo: Jackie)

Early Oscar buzz for Natalie Portman in Jackie Kennedy biopic

The Academy Award-winning actress might just clinch another Oscar for her role in 'Jackie.'

Nearly six years since she gracefully danced her way to an Oscar for her role in "Black Swan," Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman is once again poised for a repeat performance.

The 35-year-old, in the middle of one of the busiest years of her career, is receiving wide praise for her portrayal of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy in Chilean director Pablo Larraín's "Jackie." Critics attending the world premiere in Venice last week and recent screenings in Toronto were bowled over to the point of anointing Portman as a frontrunner in this year's Oscars race.

"She combines being completely dazed and numbed with extreme willpower and strong emotion, broken with grief but still at some level behind the eyes in command of herself," writes David Sexton of the UK Standard on the actress's "wondrous" performance. "She is both unreadable and riveting, sometimes seeming almost doll-like but always with an absolute grip on the new truths of her life."

In explaining how she captured the complex emotion, look and voice of the late first lady, an American icon she surprisingly has a lot in common with, Portman says she had to approach both the character's public and private personas.

"When she was doing a public interview, she got a lot more coy, and maybe a little bit shy, and her voice got a bit higher," the Jerusalem-born actress explained to The Daily Beast. "There were a lot of small details of how she presented herself when she was doing an interview as the wife of a politician even before she was the wife of a president to the audiotapes of her talking to [Arthur] Schlesinger when it’s her with friends and the ice against the glass in the background. It’s a much different tone and quality of voice."

In addition to "Jackie," Portman is also padding her resume with a starring role in French filmmaker Rebecca Zlotowski's "Planetarium." The period drama, set in France during the 1930s, features Portman and actress Lily-Rose Depp playing psychic mediums from America touring Europe. While the film itself is so far finding itself split with critics, Portman's bilingual performance in both English and French is not surprisingly a highlight.

"Portman’s part is more grounded," writes critic David Ehrlich for IndieWire, "but the actress taps into the stern sense of power that she’s harnessed for all of her most electrically elusive roles, fitting into the film’s French dialogue as naturally as she does any of Anaïs Romano’s beautiful costumes."

Both "Jackie" and "Planetarium" are expected to receive wide release before the end of the year. As for Portman's Oscar chances, we'll see if lightning strikes twice when the envelope is opened on Feb. 26, 2017.

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