Natalie Portman on red carpet

When you shoot your first movie about a young girl who gets taken in by a hitman at the age of 12, you know your career’s going to be anything but ordinary. This has certainly been the case for Natalie Portman, who starred in her first film, "Leon the Professional," before she’d even graduated from middle school. Portman would then go on to star in a huge range of films, from blockbusters like "Star Wars" to macabre art films like "Black Swan" and "Vox Lux." After starring in the first "Star Wars" prequel while she was still in high school, Portman went on to receive a degree in psychology from Harvard, later becoming the first Harvard graduate to win an Oscar for Best Actress in 2011.

From Marvel movies to rom-coms, to being one of the world’s most famous vegans, it’s safe to say that Natalie Portman has had a pretty memorable career. Though it’s clear looking through her IMDB page that not all of her films have been winners, there’s something to be said for an actor whose lane is hard to pin down. And even when the films themselves aren’t great, Portman is always able to bring a certain gravitas to every role she plays. So, we thought it high time to really dig through her filmography and separate the gems from the clunkers. We’ve not included films where she only has a small role — such as "Zoolander" where she has only a brief cameo as herself, or "Heat," where she’s only on-screen for a few minutes — but everything else is fair game.

Read on to discover our ranking of every movie Natalie Portman has starred in so far.

39. Your Highness

Your Highness characters holding weapons

It’s likely that many of you have never heard of the movie "Your Highness," and there’s a good reason for that. One of the least memorable films in Portman’s filmography, "Your Highness" is directed by David Gordon Green — who directed the two most recent "Halloween" films — and stars Danny McBride and James Franco. On paper, it’s a fantasy/comedy, but in practice, it’s neither particularly fantastical nor very funny.

As Kirk Honeycutt puts it in The Hollywood Reporter, "It’s hard to locate the joke the filmmakers even think they’re telling," and "the only excuse for the film’s existence is a misguided act of friendship in the case of Green and McBride and for everyone else a paycheck." Frankly, it seems rather illogical that this film came out in 2011 — the same year Portman won Best Actress for "Black Swan" — but even a dud like this one didn’t dim Portman’s shine for long.

38. The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards

Portman looking down

Out of the three anthology films Portman has starred in, "The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards" is definitely the worst. Based on the book of the same name by Robert Boswell, the film depicts seven vignettes, each directed by a different director. Portman’s vignette, called Lacunae, follows Paul (Jim Parrack), who has come home to visit his parents and decides to stop by and see his ex-wife Laura (Portman) while he’s there.

As Roger Moore puts it in Movie Nation, the film is an "interesting, but glum and pretentious collection of filmed short stories." Despite the number of characters it depicts, "The Heyday of Insensitive the Bastards" clocks in at only 97 minutes, which makes it hard to really connect with the stories therein. Just when you start getting invested in a story, the vignette is suddenly over. Luckily, the two other anthology films Portman has starred in are not quite as dour as this one.

37. Free Zone

Portman sitting between two women in a cab

Though Portman has lived her whole life in America, she was actually born in Jerusalem and is a dual Israeli/American citizen. One film that touches slightly on Portman’s own experience with immigration is "Free Zone," which came out in 2005. Directed by Amos Gitai, the film follows Rebecca (Portman), an American living in Jerusalem, who gets into a cab with Hanna (Hana Laszlo), an Israeli woman on her way to Jordan — known as "the free zone" — in order to retrieve a large sum of money. Also along for the ride is a Palestinian woman, Leila (Hiam Abbass).

The film is very obviously a metaphor for the conflict between Israel and Palestine, but the metaphor is far too broadly drawn to be in any way compelling or thought-provoking. As Liam Lacey puts it in Globe and Mail, the film is "too slight as a metaphor for the larger catastrophe of the Mideast, too preachy to work as an emotionally compelling drama." The overall aesthetic of the film doesn’t help matters, as "Free Zone" is one of those early 2000s digital films that somehow looks both washed out and grainy. It’s too bad that Portman starred in such an ill-conceived and ill-constructed film over a decade after her Hollywood debut, but luckily, her best was yet to come.

36. Jane Got a Gun

Portman aiming a shotgun

Directed by Gavin O’Connor, "Jane Got a Gun" is a Western that follows Jane, the wife of an outlaw who must defend her farm when her husband’s gang comes looking for him. While the premise certainly sounds interesting enough — who wouldn’t want to see Natalie Portman in a Western? — the final product is less than satisfying. It’s likely that much of the film’s failure has to do with the fact that director Lynne Ramsay abruptly quit the film just before shooting, supposedly because of a conflict about control of the final cut.

It’s hard not to imagine what the film would have been like had Ramsey — an award-winning director known for haunting films like "You Were Never Really Here" and "We Need To Talk About Kevin" — been the one to direct it, especially since it’s such a disappointing offering. To make matters worse, Jude Law also quit the project after Ramsay walked away. What we’re left with is a milquetoast take on a Western, with Portman giving it her all despite the unfortunately stale environment she finds herself in. We’d still like to see Portman in another Western, but hopefully, one that isn’t so incredibly average.

35. Goya’s Ghosts

Portman sandwiched between several people

Released in 2006, "Goya’s Ghosts" follows painter Fransisco Goya (Stellan Skarsgård) and his muse, Inés (Natalie Portman). Javier Bardem plays Brother Lorenzo, a member of the Spanish Inquisition who arrests Inés and falsely labels her as a heretic. Years later Inés emerges from prison, scarred from the torture she experienced there, and reunites with Goya. She tells him she had a daughter while in prison, and he sets out to find her.

Despite its fairly arresting subject matter, "Goya’s Ghosts" just doesn’t deliver anything of note and is an extremely forgettable film among Portman’s filmography. Even though it takes place over the course of over 15 years, the plot moves at an incredibly sluggish pace while at the same time being quite difficult to follow. As Roger Moore puts it in the Orlando Sentinel, it’s like "an Amadeus that doesn’t work." They can’t all be winners.

34. Planetarium

Portman smiling with a cigarette

Like "Goya’s Ghosts" before it, "Planetarium" is another confusing period piece that just doesn’t deliver. Set in 1930s France, the film follows two sisters, Laura (Portman), and Kate (Lily-Rose Depp), who are said to be able to communicate with ghosts. While performing in Paris, they meet a film producer, André Korben (Emmanuel Salinger) who decides to try and capture their supernatural abilities on film.

To put it simply, the film is a mess. The plot is incredibly difficult to follow, and it’s hard to even say what it was all about once the credits roll. While it certainly proposes some interesting ideas, none of these ideas come together to form anything cohesive in the end. As Ben Kenigsberg puts it in The New York Times, "It’s unusual to see such excellence in costumes, sets and cinematography lavished on this degree of narrative muddle." A perfect example of style over substance, even Portman’s valiant attempts to act her way out of this mess fail.

33. The Death & Life of John F. Donovan

Portman looking down with black background

Prior to his film with Natalie Portman, Xavier Dolan was seen as a sort of wunderkid within Hollywood circles. He shot his first film, "I Killed My Mother" at the age of 19, and his 2014 feature "Mommy" was an indie darling. His 2018 offering, "The Death & Life of John F. Donovan," received much less acclaim. The film, which was almost universally panned by critics, follows John F. Donovan (Kit Harrington), a young actor who reminisces about the letters he wrote to an American TV star (Portman) when he was a child. The film depicts three different perspectives, that of an older Donovan in 2017 as well as a younger Donovan in the mid-2000s and his starlet pen pal during that same period.

Most critics found the film both emotionally muddled and self-aggrandizing. Variety’s Pete Dubruge calls the film "a work of stunning technique eclipsed by its increasingly jaw-dropping solipsism," while IndieWire’s Eric Kohn calls it "a movie that just got lost somewhere in the editing room." Unfortunately for Portman, "The Death & Life of John F. Donovan" is one of several examples in her filmography of an ambitious filmmaker who wastes her talents on an experiment that just doesn’t work out.

32. Where the Heart Is

Portman and Ashley Judd laying in hospital bed

"Where the Heart Is" came out in 2000, the year following Natalie Portman’s turn as Padmé Amidala in "The Phantom Menace." "Where the Heart Is" follows a teenager (Portman) who is left pregnant, alone, and barefoot by her boyfriend. She takes refuge in a Walmart until she gives birth, making her an instant TV news celebrity. After her baby is born, she’s taken in by a kind nurse (Ashley Judd).

If this sounds like a Lifetime original movie, well, it feels like one too. For the most part, the characters come off as saints, which doesn’t leave the audience much to connect with. The plot is so stuffed with melodrama and cliches there’s no room to really sit with the characters and think about what they’re going through. Though Portman, Judd, and the always-likable Stockard Channing give snappy performances, this is one film that will likely be forgotten.

31. The Other Woman

Portman and Scott Cohen standing in a town square

The Natalie Portman film "The Other Woman" came out in 2009, and is not to be confused with the 2014 Cameron Diaz rom-com of the same name. The Portman film is based on an Ayelet Waldman novel and follows Emilia (Portman) and Jack (Scott Cohen), a newly married couple who lose their newborn daughter. While doing her best to manage her grief, Emilia attempts to connect with her stepson, William (Charlie Tahan) while fending off her husband’s ex-wife (Lisa Kudrow).

Like "Where the Heart Is" but with more bourgeois aspirations, "The Other Woman" fails to deliver the gripping story it promises, instead leaning too far into hollow melodrama. Nathaniel Rogers from The Film Experience calls it a picture that "does not know itself. It’s vague whenever it needs to be precise and bloated whenever it needs to trim." Indeed, though Portman rarely falters in her performance of despondent, grieving women, there’s very little growth or intrigue to be had here.

30. New York, I Love You

Portman and her fiancee standing outside

The second of Portman’s three anthology films, "New York, I Love You" is something of a sequel to 2006’s "Paris, je t’aime," in which Portman also stars. Unlike "Paris, je t’aime," however, each vignette — there are 11 in total — is connected by a videographer who is filming each character. In Portman’s portion of the film, which is directed by Mira Nair, she plays an engaged-to-be-married Hasidic woman who meets a Jain Indian diamond dealer (Irrfan Khan).

As is the problem with many (or even most) anthology films, "New York, I Love You" suffers from a lack of focus. Though Portman’s short is one of the better ones, the plot of each short is so thinly drawn that it’s hard to connect with any one character or even come up with a reason as to why they’ve shown up on the screen. The result of a cacophony — rather than a symphony — in which Portman, by necessity, only plays a small role.

29. Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

Natalie Portman and Dustin Hoffman standing in the toy store

"Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium" is the kind of movie you loved as a kid, only to revisit it as an adult and realize it doesn’t really hold up. The film follows the titular Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman), the 243-year-old proprietor of a magical toy store. When he decides to put his manager, Molly (Portman) in charge, the once magical toys suddenly go silent, and Molly has to figure out how to revive the magic on her own terms.

Though "Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium" is certainly bright, colorful, and lively, the actual plot falls flat, especially compared to the kaleidoscopic visuals of the emporium. As Steve Biodrowski puts it in ESplatter, "for all its computer-generated effects and colorful sight gags, Magorium is a dreadfully prosaic movie, lacking charm and grace." Though Portman does her best to make the buttoned-up Molly seem like she actually has a heart, we’re not really convinced the film itself has one.

28. Knight of Cups

Portman standing directly in front of Christian Bale

Natalie Portman has been in two Terrence Malick films, and, unfortunately, they’re probably his two worst films. "The Knight of Cups" follows Christian Bale, a detached screenwriter living in Los Angeles who embarks on an odyssey to find himself. Along the way, he meets many interesting women, one of whom is a married woman played by Natalie Portman.

While the film is artistically significant in various ways, the insignificance of the narrative quickly becomes grating. There is not a single diegetic conversation over the course of the film’s two-hour runtime, making "The Knight of Cups" feel something like an extended narrative poem. This would all be well and good if we were actually drawn into the story in any meaningful way, but that never really happens. Portman does an admirable job as one of the many women Bale’s character encounters on his journey, but all in all it’s a fairly forgettable entry in her filmography.

27. The Other Boleyn Girl

Scarlett Johansson fastening a necklace on Portman

As you might have guessed, "The Other Boleyn Girl" is a Natalie Portman period piece. The film follows King Henry XIII (Eric Bana), who is without an heir. Sir Thomas Boleyn (Mark Rylance) persuades his daughter, Anne (Portman) to seduce the king, seeing this as an opportunity for social mobility. His plan backfires when Henry falls in love with Anne’s sister, Mary (Scarlett Johansson) instead, and a rivalry emerges between the two sisters.

We all know the story of King Henry XIII (or at least parts of it), and unfortunately, "The Other Boleyn Girl" doesn’t add much to our understanding. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — period pieces don’t have to be educational to be good — but in this case we are left wondering what exactly was the point of all this. Though it’s occasionally entertaining, it leans too far into soap opera territory to really be taken seriously. If it were more extravagant, perhaps it would actually be fun. It’s as if "The Favourite" was less interesting and more straight-laced, in more ways than one.

26. No Strings Attached

Ashton Kutcher sitting on bed and Portman standing in front of him

One of the few classic romantic comedies in Natalie Portman’s repertoire, "No Strings Attached" unfortunately just isn’t that good. The film follows Emma (Portman) a doctor who proposes a no-strings-attached sexual relationship with her best friend, Adam (Ashton Kutcher). As you might be able to guess, this does not work.

The premise of the film is strikingly uninventive, and it doesn’t really rise above its origins, either. The only thing that saves it from being a complete bore is Portman, who proves that she can be charming in more lighthearted fare such as this. Greta Gerwig’s role in the film is also an unexpected surprise, but neither of these things are enough to make "No Strings Attached" anything more than an extremely average rom-com offering. As Micheal Compton puts it in Bowling Green Daily News, the film is "a mildly interesting diversion that is never more than a catchy gimmick in search of a complete story."

25. Lucy in the Sky

Portman standing in front of NASA logo

"Lucy in the Sky," which came out in 2019, sees Portman playing an astronaut who has just come back from space and is struggling to adjust to life on earth. She begins to lose touch with reality and starts behaving erratically, having an affair with a colleague (Jon Hamm) and pushing herself to her limit so she will be selected for the next mission.

Though there are some marginally interesting stylistic choices in the film — the changing aspect ratio, a very psychedelic "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" sequence — it just doesn’t quite deliver on an emotional level. Despite Portman’s best efforts, the film never really lets us in about what it is Lucy is actually thinking or feeling, or why we should care in the first place. This is a shame, because Portman would be perfect in a cerebral movie about space if it were actually good. Unfortunately, both "Lucy in the Sky" and "Planetarium" just don’t cut it on this front.

24. Song to Song

Portman dancing with Michael Fassbender in diner

Terrence Malick’s "Song to Song" is kind of a difficult film to enjoy. It follows Faye (Rooney Mara), a musician trying to make it in Austin, Texas. She begins an affair with a record producer named Cook (Michael Fassbender), hoping it will help her in the industry, only to fall in love with Cook’s friend and colleague, BV (Ryan Gosling). Cook meets Rhonda (Portman), and they eventually get married, while Cook and Faye continue their affair.

We won’t spoil the ending here, but suffice to say it’s a bit hard to swallow, which only adds to the hollow melodrama of the plot. Like many Malick films — including "King of Cups," his other film with Portman — "Song to Song" is an experimental film, and those experiments don’t always produce positive results. As Wendy Ide puts it in The Guardian, "It all adds up to a beautiful nothing." Unfortunately, this review could describe a number of Portman’s less than well-received art films, in which Portman does her best to rise above the confused mess of the script — something that, despite her admirable efforts, rarely works.

23. Hesher

Gordon-Levitt walking shirtless down the street past Portman

First released in 2011, "Hesher" follows the titular anarchist (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who moves into the garage of a young boy named T.J. (Devin Brochu) and his father (Rainn Wilson). Natalie Portman plays a grocery store clerk who saves T.J. from a bully. "Hesher" is something of a dark comedy, and as one fan on Letterboxd put it, the film is like "Mary Poppins meets Metallica."

"Hesher" is interesting enough, but like its disaffected title character, it doesn’t really care to actually do anything. As Brian Tallerico puts it in HollywoodChicago.com, "like a knock-off of Chuck Palahniuk produced by people raised only on Sundance films, ‘Hesher’ is a mess." Gordon-Levitt gives a compelling performance despite the rather lifeless nature of the plot, and Portman delivers as usual. But "Hesher" is easy to forget.

22. Thor: Dark World

Jane and Thor standing in cloaks on Asgard

Everyone knows that "Thor: Ragnarok" is the best Thor movie, but Natalie Portman isn’t actually in that one. She is, however, in "Thor: Dark World," which is probably the worst of the Thor movies. "Dark World" follows Thor’s love interest, Doctor Jane Foster (Portman), who finds an ancient weapon called the Aether. In order to stop a Dark Elf named Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) from capturing Jane and stealing the weapon, Thor must bring Jane to his home planet of Asgard.

While Thor and Loki are their classic amusing selves, Portman’s Jane is one of the weaker characters in the series. Her dynamic with Thor isn’t particularly compelling, and Jane’s friend, Darcy (Kat Dennings, who thankfully returns for "Wandavision"), is a much more entertaining character. This is not Portman’s fault, as we all know she can act her way out of most things, but it’s still somewhat disheartening that they couldn’t find a more exciting part for her. Moreover, "Dark World," isn’t a particularly interesting sequel, save Loki’s all-too-brief appearances.

21. My Blueberry Nights

Blonde Portman standing in front of car

"My Blueberry Nights" is the first English-language film from legendary Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai. The film follows Elizabeth (Norah Jones), who begins baking at the cafe of a British man (Jude Law) to console herself. She then takes off on a road trip, where she meets a series of interesting individuals, such as an unfaithful wife (Rachel Weisz) and a gambler (Portman).

"My Blueberry Nights" is essentially a film about pie and falling in love, and it does delve into these themes with a certain amount of charm. But, especially for a Wong Kar-wai film, it falls short of actually being good, settling instead for being just average. Portman gives a stirring performance, but the thinly-drawn plot doesn’t give the cast — which also includes the great Cat Power — a whole lot to work with. The upside-down, blueberry-filled kisses are sweet, but they aren’t enough to make the film great.

20. Mars Attacks!

Portman peeking out from under blanket fort

"Mars Attacks!" is one of those cult classics that you either love for its silliness or can’t stand for the same reason. Based on a trading card series, the film follows a fleet of Martians who travel to earth and wage war against the earthlings. "Mars Attacks!" stars Jack Nicholson as President of the United States, Glenn Close as the first lady, and Portman as their daughter, Taffy.

Directed by Tim Burton and with music by Danny Elfman, the film uses kitschy, computer-generated animation (as opposed to the stop motion animation that was originally proposed) to create the Martians, giving the whole movie a rather surreal feeling. Though it received mixed reviews upon its release, it has since been called a "misunderstood sci-fi masterpiece," and has earned at least a modicum of critical re-appraisal since it originally came out. For her part, Portman does an admirable job playing a disaffected teenager, even if this role is significantly less meaty than her breakout film "Leon the Professional," released two years prior.

19. Anywhere But Here

Portman and Susan Sarandon eating popcorn on bed

Had it been released in the Golden Age of Hollywood, 1999s "Anywhere But Here" would have almost certainly been called a "woman’s picture"— one of those films that center on the moral dilemmas of women’s lives and is aimed specifically at female audiences. An adaptation of Mona Simpson’s novel of the same name, "Anywhere But Here" follows a single mother, Adele (Susan Sarandon), who is bad at handling money, and her buttoned-up daughter, Ann (Portman), who dreams of attending an Ivy League school. Adele decides to move the family to Beverly Hills to try her hand in Hollywood, and Ann becomes increasingly exasperated by her mother’s immaturity.

Though "Anywhere But Here" at times veers into melodrama, it’s saved by Sarandon and Portmans’ performances and the believable chemistry they have as a mother/daughter duo. It feels a bit like Portman’s similarly easygoing 2000 film "Where The Heart is," but "Anywhere But Here" is certainly the better of the two. Though it has a rather old-fashioned style about it, it’s charming and inoffensive enough that it clearly belongs somewhere in the middle of Portman’s ranked filmography.

18. Beautiful Girls

Portman smiling on ice skating rink

Despite its title, "Beautiful Girls" is mostly a movie about a group of guys and all the beautiful girls they wish they could have. Willie (Timothy Hutton), Tommy (Matt Dillon), and Paul (Michael Rapaport) are reunited in their snowy Massachusetts town for their 10-year high school reunion. All unlucky in matters of love, the guys are obsessed with unattainable women, ignoring the actual women in their town, played by Uma Thurman, Rosie O’Donnell, Lauren Holly, Mira Sorvino, and our very own Natalie Portman.

One of the more interesting parts of the film is the relationship between Willie and Portman’s character, who is 13 in the film. Willie has something of a crush on Portman’s Marty — which, luckily, doesn’t actually go anywhere — and thinks that she would be the perfect woman, if only she actually was one. The film was reviewed mostly favorably by critics at the time, but it’s Portman, in only her third-ever role, who really steals the show as the wiser-than-her-years Marty. It’s very clear from these early films that Portman had something very few actors her age possess, and this unlikely depth is especially apparent in "Beautiful Girls." However, it’s unfortunate that Portman played so many roles early in her career where she had strange relationships with older men, the effect of which she’s spoken about before.

17. A Tale of Love and Darkness

Portman and young son sitting on bench

Released in 2015, "A Tale of Love and Darkness" is Natalie Portman’s directorial and screenwriting debut. Based on the book of the same name "A Tale of Love and Darkness" follows a young man, Amos Oz (Amir Tessler), who, inspired by his mother’s stories, becomes a famous writer after growing up in 1940s Jerusalem. Amos is very close with his mother, played by Portman, who falls into a depression after the war and never really recovers.

It took Portman eight years to find funding and write the script for the film, and she maintained all the while that the adaptation should be done in Hebrew, which, being born in Jerusalem, she speaks. Despite it being a somewhat muddled film — both visually and thematically — it was, on average, reviewed favorably by critics. Writing for Spirituality & Health, Bilge Ebiri writes that, "Ultimately, this is a worthy, heartfelt, and uneven attempt to bring to cinematic life an immense, acclaimed memoir of love, life, and war." Indeed, it is all-in-all an impressive directorial debut, made especially so by the fact that Portman pulled triple-duty directing, writing, and acting in a film of such epic proportions.

16. Brothers

Portman kneeling in front of seated Maguire

"Brothers," which was released in 2009, might be the most dramatic movie Natalie Portman has ever made. The film follows Sam (Tobey Maguire), a Marine who is married to Grace (Portman). When Sam is shot down in Afghanistan and presumed dead, Sam’s brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has been in and out of prison, promises to take care of Grace. Grace and Tommy become close in Sam’s absence, until Sam unexpectedly returns after being held prisoner by the Taliban. Things get extremely tense between the three, as Sam is struggling with PTSD and believes Grace and Tommy are having an affair.

Though it doesn’t quite live up to the name of the Susanne Bier film from which it was adapted, "Brothers" is saved from dour melodrama by three incredible performances by its leading actors. The deeply complicated relationship is portrayed passionately by Maguire and Gyllenhaal, and Portman is captivating as a military wife struggling with grief and guilt. With lesser actors, the film could have very easily come across as schlocky and bland, but with Portman and her co-stars on board, it becomes more than the sum of its parts.

15. Everyone Says I Love You

Portman crying while Hawn holds her arm

Released in 1996, "Everyone Says I Love You" is Woody Allen’s first and only musical film. The film stars Allen and Goldie Hawn as recently divorced Mahnahttanites and Natasha Lyonne as their daughter, D.J. Drew Barrymore plays her half-sister, Skylar, who is engaged to Holden (Edward Norton), and Portman plays Barrymore’s younger sister, Laura. Julia Roberts also stars in the film as a woman who Allen’s character becomes infatuated with while in Europe.

"Everyone Says I Love You" did not do very well at the box office, but it’s actually one of Allen’s more critically-acclaimed films, with Roger Ebert calling it one of his best. While the plot is rather convoluted, the film has typical Allen charm (if you can stand that sort of thing), and the musical element is a fun way of denoting the characters’ inner thoughts. Per usual, Portman is excellent as a precocious young girl, and shines like she does in all of her early films in the mid-90s.

14. Cold Mountain

Portman clutching baby

Like "Brothers," "Cold Mountain" is a romantic melodrama steeped in tragedy. Set during the American Civil War, the film follows Inman, a confederate soldier who must leave the woman he loves, Ada (Nicole Kidman), behind to fight in the war. After being nearly killed in battle, Inman deserts the war and tries to make it back home to Ada. Along the way, he meets many strangers — some friends and some foes — including a corrupt Reverend (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and Sara (Portman), a young widow raising her infant son. Meanwhile, Ada tries to keep her farm afloat with the help of a kind neighbor, Ruby (Renée Zellweger).

"Cold Mountain" is a well-crafted war story that succeeds in pulling on one’s heartstrings. Unfortunately, Portman’s role in the film is rather small, and it might have actually been a better film if she was in it more. Though "Cold Mountain" isn’t for everybody, it tells a convincingly tragic love story and has some intense, affecting action that makes up for its occasional obviousness.

13. Thor

Thor holding Portman's hand

Like DC’s "Wonder Woman" origin story, Marvel’s "Thor" tells an amusing fish-out-of-water tale about a hero who has to learn to connect with humanity. 2011s "Thor" follows our titular hero after he is cast out of Asgard and sent down to earth as punishment. He must learn how to get along with humans while also preventing dark forces from destroying the planet. Upon touching down on earth he meets Dr. Jane Foster, for whom he develops romantic feelings.

As far as Marvel movies go, "Thor" is lighthearted, amusing fare, buoyed by appropriately energetic performances by Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. It’s certainly not one of Portman’s best roles, however, as Dr. Foster is a rather boring character who doesn’t add much to the story. Portman sells it as best she can, but it’s the mischievous Loki (Hiddleston) who steals the show in the charm department. Unfortunately, the "Thor" series doesn’t get truly good until the third film, "Ragnarok," in which Portman only appears as a picture on Thor’s desk. We can only hope that "Thor: Love and Thunder" gives Portman more of a chance to shine.

12. Paris, je t’aime

Portman holding Beslon's face in her hands

Out of the three anthology films Portman has starred in, "Paris, je t’aime" is by far the most jam-packed. It also happens to be the most critically acclaimed among Portman’s anthology filmography. "Paris, je t’aime" is a collection of 18 vignettes — all by different directors — that take place in different arrondissements (or districts) in Paris. In Portman’s vignette, she plays an American actress who wants to break it off with a blind student (Melchior Beslon). Willem Dafoe and Juliette Binoche star in another vignette.

As one might expect, "Paris, je t’aime" is something of a mixed bag. Some of the vignettes land, while others fail to make an impact. While it was favorably reviewed in the United States, it was less well-received in France, with one reviewer for Le Monde describing the film as: "Paris in 18 short films, of which 3 succeed." Still, "Paris, je t’aime" was enough of a success in the U.S. that it sparked three spin-offs set in other cities, the second of which, "New York, I Love You," Portman also starred in. Another Portman film that could be described as a cinematic experiment, this one doesn’t fail quite as decisively as some of the others in her repertoire, and is even quite charming at times.

11. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Padme sitting on throne

Unfortunately for "Star Wars" fans, the first film in the trilogy of prequels that began in 1999 was something of a letdown. "The Phantom Menace" follows a young Obi-Wan Kenobi who is being taught by Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), and a 9-year-old Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader himself. Natalie Portman plays teenage queen Padmé Amidala of Naboo, who will eventually give birth to twins Luke and Leia.

Part of the problem with "The Phantom Menace" is that the plot is not something that really gets your heart rate up. Who wants to watch a space movie about trade disputes, of all things? Plus, the dialogue in "The Phantom Menace" is totally stilted at times, and it introduces one of the most-hated "Star Wars" characters of all time, Jar Jar Binks. To Portman’s credit, she does an admirable job of portraying the queen of an entire planet when she hadn’t even graduated high school herself. We want to love Padmé more than we do, but the uninspired writing just never gives us the chance.

10. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Padme holding gun and walking next to Anakin

Most die-hard "Star Wars" fans agree that the prequels mostly pale in comparison to the original trilogy, and "Episode II" is certainly the silliest of the three. "Attack of the Clones" takes place 10 years after the events of "The Phantom Menace." The Republic has descended into chaos, and when an assasination attempt is made on Padmé, now a senator, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi must investigate the mysterious forces behind it.

Like "The Phantom Menace" before it, "Attack of the Clones" suffers from truly absurd dialogue and some particularly uninspired characters and plot devices. For better or worse, "Attack of the Clones" does give us one of the most hilarious lines ever uttered in a "Star Wars" film — Anakin’s rant about how he doesn’t like sand. ("Episode II" also gives us the famous Anakin/Padmé meme). We do like that Padmé actually gets to stand her ground and fight back in this movie, but the romance between her and Anakin is totally laughable and kind of ruins the emotional resonance of the film as a whole. Nonetheless, it’s at least pretty fun, and does have some exciting sequences like the fight between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett.

9. Vox Lux

Portman performing on stage in blue feathers

"Vox Lux" is a controversial movie. You either love it or you hate it, and, luckily for Pormtan, more critics chose the former. Something like a dark take on "A Star is Born," "Vox Lux" takes place in three acts. The first act follows a young Celeste (Raffey Cassidy), who becomes famous after a song she sings at the memorial of her classmates (who were slain by a mass shooter) goes viral. The second act follows an adult Celeste, now a famous pop singer, whose music has been linked to a terrorist shooting where the perpetrators wore masks similar to the ones she wore in a music video. The third act depicts Celeste’s concert, with the threat of terrorist attacks looming over the event.

"Vox Lux" is an exceedingly dark film, and one that unsurprisingly divides audiences due to its violent content. Nonetheless, if you’re able to stomach a school shooting in the first act, it’s a totally enthralling and surprising ride, and Cassidy and Portman deliver incredible performances. Portman is a live-wire as adult Celeste, and it’s mesmerizing to watch her constantly teetering on the edge of destruction. Her performance in the third act is similarly spellbinding, made all the more so by the fact that Celeste’s songs, which were written by Sia, are extremely catchy. Like "Black Swan," "Vox Lux" is not for the faint of heart, but it certainly delivers thrills.

8. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Padme looking intently at something

Out of the rather controversial set of "Star Wars" prequels that Natalie Portman starred in, "Revenge of the Sith" is often considered to be the best of the three. "Revenge of the Sith" takes place three years after the start of the Clone Wars and finds Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker on a mission to rescue Chancellor Palpatine. Anakin is then asked to spy on Palpatine, who manipulates him into embracing his dark side in an attempt to save the life of his pregnant wife, Padmé.

Given that it is the final film in the trilogy, the stakes are much higher in "Episode III," with Padmé’s life on the line and the fate of the universe hanging in balance. "Revenge of the Sith" also features some of the most entertaining fight scenes in the franchise, such as the battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin. The film’s PG-13 rating — the first in the franchise’s history — allows it to reach a darkness that wasn’t present in the earlier films. Plus, Portman’s role as Padmé is extremely important in the film, and the tragic circumstances we find her character in really give her a chance to shine, acting-wise. Hayden Christensen, however, remains as wooden as ever.

7. Garden State

Portman sitting next to Braff on couch

"Garden State," which stars and was written and directed by Zach Braff, remains one of the most beloved romantic comedies of the mid-2000s. The film follows Andrew (Braff), an actor who returns home to his New Jersey town to attend his mother’s funeral. While dealing with various aspects of his past that he’d rather forget, Andrew meets Sam (Natalie Portman), a musician and a compulsive liar.

Watching it today, "Garden State" feels incredibly 2004, but that’s not actually a bad thing. Much of the time-capsule quality the film has comes from the soundtrack, which includes songs from artists like The Shins, Iron & Wine, and Nick Drake. Portman’s Sam is a compellingly offbeat character, who, though she comes off as something of a manic pixie dream girl at times, remains sympathetic because of Portman’s spirited portrayal. Like a number of the films on this list, Garden State is a movie you either love for its twee-ness or hate for the same reason. But, as we’ve also learned in this investigation, Portman is very nearly always good, and has the ability to inject life into even the most lifeless scripts.

6. Closer

Portman in pink wig talking with Owen in strip club

"Closer," released in 2004, was the second-to-last film Mike Nichols directed before his death a decade later. To put it simply, "Closer" tells the story of a group of people who regularly cheat on one another. Dan (Jude Law) meets Alice (Portman) a former American stripper who has just moved to London, and they start dating. Dan then becomes infatuated with Anna (Julia Roberts) who he sets up with Larry (Clive Owen). Dan and Anna then begin an affair, which does not end well for anyone involved.

While "Closer" is not the best film Natalie Portman has ever been in, her performance as Alice (or is it Jane?) is one for the books. As the cheeky, bright-eyed Alice, Portman delivers one of her most legendary lines while wearing a shiny pink wig: "Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off." Interestingly enough, this line echoes the behavior of her character Sam in "Garden State," which came out the same year. Even when the plot feels overblown at times, the performances remain excellent — which is what makes the film such a winner in the end.

5. V for Vendetta

Bloodied Portman sits next to V on couch

If nothing else, 2005s "V for Vendetta" gifts us with one of Natalie Portman’s most memorable looks — her shocking shaved head. The film — which was written by the Wachowskis — is set in London in the aftermath of a world war wherein the city has become a police state run by a fascist government. V is a masked vigilante who fights the powers that be using terrorist methods. One day he saves a young woman, Evey (Portman), who becomes an important ally in his fight against the government.

Even if the political allegory is rather obvious, the film holds up as a trenchant critique of fascism and a disturbingly entertaining action thriller. Portman shaving her head is iconic, yes, but the rest of the film is similarly thrilling, as is Portman’s ferocious performance as Evey. Casting the American Portman in what is thoroughly a British story — V wears a Guy Fawkes mask, after all — was certainly a risk, but one that definitely paid off. An underrated Wachowski project and a remarkable Portman performance, "V for Vendetta" holds up as one of Portman’s best roles.

4. Léon: The Professional

Portman and Leon sitting at table

It’s rare that an actor’s first role remains one of their best movies, but this is the case for Natalie Portman. Portman was cast in her first film "Léon: The Professional," at age 11, and it’s a stunning performance from such a young actor. Directed by Luc Besson, the film follows a hitman named Léon (Jean Reno) who lives down the hall from a 12-year-old girl named Mathilda. When Mathilda’s abusive parents are killed by a corrupt DEA agent (Gary Oldman), Mathilda teams up with Léon and convinces him to teach her the tricks of the trade.

While the film was marketed primarily as a thriller, it also contains a surprising amount of depth, and the relationship between Léon and young Mathilda is unexpectedly touching. Portman is formidable as a wiser-than-her-years child — a kind of role she played frequently as a young actor — and it’s an astounding first-time performance for an actor of any age. As Ed Potton of The Times puts it, the film is "stylish, disturbing and weirdly moving," which could describe a great number of Portman’s films. It’s exciting to be able to go back and look at an actor’s early work and see their talent shine through, and that’s certainly the case in "Léon: The Professional."

3. Black Swan

Portman dancing on stage

Darren Aronofsky’s demented ballerina movie, "Black Swan," gave Natalie Portman her first (and only) Oscar for Best Actress in 2011. Portman plays Nina, a ballerina whose passion for the profession eclipses everything else in her life. When her company’s director decides to recast the lead role in "Swan Lake," Nina is the obvious choice for prima ballerina. But Nina finds she must compete with a new ballerina, Lily (Mila Kunis), and their rivalry quickly turns dark as Nina’s obsessive tendencies get the best of her.

"Black Swan" is a shocking, disturbing movie, and it’s not for everyone. While the body horror and psychological anxiety are enough to unnerve even the most stoic viewer, Portman’s performance is unwaveringly excellent. The creeping dread of the film’s atmosphere is reflected most clearly on Nina’s face and in the contortion of her body, which she keeps so tightly wound it’s as if she might explode at any minute. It’s as much a physical performance as it is an emotional one, and Portman portrays the role with a raw abandon rarely seen on screen. When Nina finally does let the darkness in, it’s as shocking as anything Portman has ever done.

2. Jackie

Jackie standing in black dress in the White House

If "Black Swan" is a portrait of a tightly-wound woman who finally loses control, then "Jacke" is just the opposite — a portrait of a woman who regains control in precarious circumstances. "Jackie" sees Portman playing first lady Jackie Kennedy over the course of the seven days following her husband’s assassination. During this grief-stricken period, Jackie must care for her children, plan a funeral, and decide how to preserve and shape her husband’s legacy for generations to come.

Like director Pablo Larraín’s more recent film, "Spencer," "Jackie" is a snapshot of a very famous woman’s life, intended not to explain their entire story but rather to mythologize and extrapolate from a specific moment in time. Much of "Jackie" follows her drive to define how history will remember her husband and his administration, as well as her own legacy. Jackie comes to describe the Kennedys’ time in the White House as a period akin to King Arthur’s reign over Camelot. "For one brief, shining moment, there was a Camelot," she quotes from the musical of the same name. Though Portman regrettably didn’t win the Oscar for this role (she lost to Emma Stone in "La La Land"), the film, and Portman’s haunting performance, remains a shining example of what filmmaking can be with a little imagination and a lot of talent.

1. Annihilation

Portman holding rifle in the jungle

Released in 2018, "Annihilation" is Alex Garland’s follow-up to his debut, the robot parable "Ex Machina." In "Annihilation" Portman plays Lena, a former soldier and biologist who ventures inside a mysterious zone called Area X to discover what happened to her husband. Joining her on her mission are a paramedic (Gina Rodgriguez), a physicist (Tessa Thompson), a geomorphologist (Tuva Novotny), and a psychologist (Jennnifer Jason Leigh). What they discover when they enter Area X are plants and animals that seem to be mutating on the cellular level, a biological process that begins affecting the women themselves.

Like a number of Portman’s films, "Annihilation" is rather disturbing, and it comes with a deliciously haunting payoff. As they travel through Area X, each character begins to question who they are (quite literally) on a cellular level, and not everyone makes it out alive. But Lena is steadfast in her determination to discover the secrets of this new world and save her husband, who is dying just outside their otherwordly bubble. "Annihilation" is a thrilling film, and Portman gives one of her best performances. As a woman driven by the search for truth and the guilt-fueled drive to heal her husband, Lena is a character you never quite understand fully, but one that draws you in nonetheless. With its breathtaking, nearly indescribable third act, it’s hard to argue that it gets any better than this.