Will Natalie Portman's Ashton Kutcher Comedy Cost Her an Oscar?
"On the heels of her Oscar-worthy Black Swan performance," wrote Henry Alford in the New York Times on Wednesday, "Natalie Portman will appear in an Ashton Kutcher movie [Ivan Reitman's No Strings Attached]. Natalie's Norbit."
Norbit was the 2007 calamity that some say cost Eddie Murphy a likely Oscar for Dreamgirls, so Alford means that Reitman's PG-13 movie about the perils of sexually escalating friendship will be so non-Oscar-worthy its stench will obliterate her trophy hopes.
"[He's] being a bit silly," says freelance writer Kathy Fennessy. "No Strings Attached looks like fluff, but Portman has earned the right to let her hair down for a change. Plus, there's a difference between a rom-com and a grossout comedy."
"An Ivan Reitman film is always a problem for me," says blogger Jeff Wells, "but the Norbit in Eddie Murphy's case wasn't a one-off but an especially egregious reminder to everyone of all the pieces of shit Murphy had made in the past."
Except for Shrek, Murphy's Rottentomatoes scores were awe-inspiringly abominable around then:
Daddy Day Care: 28%
Haunted Mansion: 13%
I Spy: 15%
The Adventures of Pluto Nash: 6%
"Portman doesn't have this kind of history," says Wells. "And No Strings Attached was once a very well liked script called F---buddies. So maybe Reitman didn't totally f--- it up."
"I think Portman will escape the wrath," says Film.com's Laremy Legel, who wrote about Eddit's Norbit problem, "because the film won't come near Norbit's $95 million haul [which may have irked Oscar voters]. She's also coming out two weeks earlier [before the Oscars] than Norbit, which should give her a chance to recover. It will be a story around nomination time, but she's more beloved in Hollywood than Murphy was."
She's certainly beloved today: she and Black Swan both got Golden Globe nominations.
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Scott Feinberg, the lead awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, is one of the entertainment industry's most experienced and trusted experts about the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys. He started on the awards beat in 2001, writing for independent websites including his own ScottFeinberg.com before joining the Los Angeles Times and then THR, for which he writes “The Race” blog, which won the LA Press Club’s National Entertainment Journalism Award for best entertainment blog of 2012-2013. A voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics' Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association, he is also writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 500 high-profile Hollywood figures whose careers span the silent era through the present.
Follow Scott on Twitter at twitter.com/scottfeinberg.
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