The Academy Awards are right around the corner, and Natalie Portman is hot on the trail in pursuit of her second Oscar, this time for her star turn as the grieving former first lady Jackie Kennedy in Jackie. And, with Emma Stone’s all-but-certain chances beginning to dim slightly due to the tentative but undeniable backlash toward La La Land, we may once again get to see Portman onstage—once again resplendently pregnant and dressed in couture—clutching a golden statuette in her delicate, bejeweled hand. How better to remind the women of the world of the one among them that truly does seem to have it all?
Now, Portman, normally a relatively private star, has turned up on the Vanity Fair website in a cute promotional video. In it, her golden brown hair is styled into immaculate Veronica Lake-like waves and is paired perfectly with approachable, vegan-friendly Chuck Taylors (remember, Natalie doesn’t wear real leather) and a perky, striped maternity tee. Then she launches into an adorable iPad-assisted explanation of Hebrew slang words, which she pronounces, of course, in a flawless Israeli accent (I assume), although some found major problems with her … performance. In any case, it’s peak Natalie because it’s the sort of public performance she has so rarely gifted us of late, what with living in Paris and being a mother, and getting quietly fitted for gowns at Prada reminiscent of the ’60s.
And it’s brainy! She speaks another language, fluently! It’s Jewy! It’s Hebrew! Natalie Portman, a movie star who is Jewish and speaks Hebrew, is playing Jackie Kennedy! How can that not make your grandmother kvell? It could be perceived as politically controversial (Israel) but I believe it’s ultimately charming and humanizing!
Altogether, it’s everything Natalie Portman is, has ever been, or ever will be— complex, graceful, funny. Or, if not exactly funny, then not without a sense of humor. And, above all, it’s intelligent, which is probably the kind of first lady the equally intelligent (and bilingual) Jackie Kennedy would have liked to be had she come to prominence in a time when people were more concerned with the quality of the woman’s intellect than patterns on her china. Perhaps that day has not yet come, but women like Natalie—and her sensitive portrait of Jackie—make me believe that it may yet. As we say at the end of the Seder (and of course, it applies doubly here): “Next year in Jerusalem.” Now we know exactly what slang to use when we get there.