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, whose THR coverage appears both in print and online, is one of the film industry's most experienced and trusted awards analysts, and possesses one of the strongest track records at forecasting the Oscars. His best showings came in 2006 and 2013, when he called 21 of 24 winners; he was also the only pundit to project long-shot best picture nominations for The Reader (2008), The Blind Side (2009) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011). An alumnus of Brandeis University, he previously ran "The Feinberg Files" blog for the Los Angeles Times. He is now a voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, and is writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 350 high-profile Hollywood figures.
Gregg contributes awards news, features online, and "The Race" column in print.
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