The more I think about it, Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" is starting to settle in my mind as the equivalent of Brian De Palma's "Carrie", both low-budget films that skirt the line between heightened melodrama and physical horror, schlocky camp and high art.
But the comparison really lies in the way that both films are the prototypical example of their respective director's style and a confluence of their previous work into a highly-skilled, no-holds-barred showpiece - highly successful ones at that. ("Carrie" grossed $33.8 million domestically on a budget of just $1.8, while "Black Swan" is poised to pass $100 million before the end of the month on a shoestring budget of just $13 million.)
Aronofsky's neck-gazing tracking shots, tight-spaced virtuosity and thematic commitment to the destruction of the human body is what drives "Black Swan", easily the most authorial film to be nominated this year. De Palma, meanwhile, stages some of the most spectacular suspense sequences ever filmed, employing his trademark split-screen framing and 360-degree whirling dervishes.
Even more evident yet is just how both films and filmmakers are the result of an unabashed, unavoidable love of cinema. De Palma is notorious for his "pastiche" filmmaking, endlessly referential set-pieces and Alfred Hitchcock thematics. With "Black Swan", a film more likely to have been made in the 1970's European horror landscape, Aronofsky is doing the same and doing it well.