Happy 30th Birthday, Natalie Portman! What's Her Finest Screen Moment?

On this day back in 1981, in Jerusalem, the world welcomed a baby girl named Natalie Hershlag. Within a little more than a decade, Hollywood would welcome her as Natalie Portman. Now, with arguably the role of a lifetime not too far away in her rearview mirror and motherhood of her own in the offing, Portman turns 30. Which naturally begets some looking back: What's her finest screen moment?

Hmm. We've contemplated this before, in a way, tracking Portman's career evolution back in January; obviously the two films for which she received Oscar nominations -- Closer and Black Swan (winning for the latter) -- yield plenty of highlights, as do her debut The Professional, Beautiful Girls, Garden State and V For Vendetta (for the head-shaving alone). Her NSFW rap on SNL in 2006 was a milestone worthy of its own award. Maybe the Swearie?

But for my money, I'll take the opening of Amos Gitai's 2005 film Free Zone, featuring Portman as an Israel-American who -- after breaking off here engagement -- joins a Palestinian woman on a journey to Jordan's "Free Zone." Portman's character makes this call instinctively as a passenger in the back of the other woman's car, and her breakdown leading up to the decision -- and her persuasion of the woman to let her tag along -- unfolds in one extended, uncut take. The only version of the whole take available online has the scene's traditional Passover song "Chad Gadya" dubbed in Italian, alas (an English-dubbed version is here, but it doesn't contain the crucial conversation afterward). And sure, she's crying again, which we all know she's so good at. Still, you get the point:

Anyway, your mileage may vary -- let's hear about it below. And happy 30th, Natalie!

[Photo: Getty Images]


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