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1. "Black Swan"
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder
Why: By the time "Black Swan" rolled around Darren Aronofsky had already established a wonderful relationship with Searchlight on "The Wrestler," which became a player on the awards circuit for Mickey Rourke's performance. This time, with an expressionistic twist on Tchaikovsky, it would be Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, and a Best Actress Oscar for Natalie Portman, who's committed, brilliant performance owned the season. The film was a hallmark of Searchlight's embrace of progressively challenging material within a studio/dependent system, a bold vision nurtured, the very essence, really, of the company's purpose. For our money, it's the crown jewel of their catalogue.
- Kristopher Tapley