With Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky did little to knock himself off the porch as one of my two favorite living directors (with David Fincher). It was pretty awesome that they both had films come out within months of each other. I have to give the edge to Fincher in this battle, but only because The Social Network was more epic and timeless in nature. Black Swan was more intimate, a smaller character study in the breakdown of a human being. And Aronofsky was working from a far inferior script; laden with over-the-top theatrics from Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder and what really ticked me off - needless exposition that tells the entire story at the beginning from Vincent Cassell... but what Aronofsky does with that script, the mood he creates, the performances he pulls out of Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, and the constant nailbiting he induces all make for an amazing movie going experience. How many other directors could make a movie about the ballet (for someone such as myself) this good?
Like a typical Aronofsky film, the tension keeps ratcheting up... until we the audience are turned and twisted and left feeling like we just went through a prize fight at the end. Clint Mansell (as usual) sets such an amazing mood and matches the image on screen beat for beat with his score.
It all culimates into what is one of the best shots you'll not only see in a film this year, but ever. I don't want to give it away, but if you know anything about Swan Lake, it happens during the final transformation. Every element is perfect and the effect is mind-blowing.