No Strings Attached, Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher

Dale Robinette/Paramount Pictures

That new Ashton Kutcher comedy doesn't exactly look Oscar-worthy. Will it hurt Natalie Portman's chances for an Academy Award for Black Swan?
—Viva, via the inbox

You mean No Strings Attached? It's an understandable worry, given what happened to Eddie Murphy during his bid for an Oscar in 2007. No matter how much gravitas he brought to Dreamgirls, it all floated away like a helium-filled fat suit once Norbit came around, at exactly the wrong time.

As for whether some silly Kutcher comedy has doomed Portman's chance at a teary acceptance speech, well...

...fret not for the prima ballerina.

All that starving and crying on cue already has merited Portman a Golden Globe—a prime sign that Oscar will follow suit, at least, with a nomination.

And, unlike Murphy, who had a long track record of stupid comedies before his Oscar campaign, Portman has the opposite: exactly the kind of reputation that she needs to survive any negative fallout.

"Natalie Portman is known as a good actor, despite Star Wars and the crappy dialogue she had to say," notes Ron W. Roecker, who has engineered awards campaigns aplenty.

"She's not had to really carry any movies on her own shoulders, so there hasn't been that pressure, nor have there been failures because of her. She also hasn't played the same role over and over and over again, and then all of a sudden decided on this life-altering choice to become a serious actress!"

In other words, during times like these, Portman has her reputation to fall back upon, and it's an Oscar-friendly one, thanks to past choices ranging from Heat to Cold Mountain to Garden State. (Murphy, on the other hand, did turn in some solid comedies in his day. But he's better known for Daddy Day Care, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, and Doctor Doolittle.)

As a precaution, however, don't be shocked if you see Portman continuing to mention her Black Swan work even as she promotes No Strings Attached; just smart campaigning, you understand.

Now, as to whether Natalie Portman's Globes win and Oscar glow will help this little No Strings Attached at the box office this weekend, check out my latest podcast! I get into it.

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