Oscar hopefuls: Kidman, Rush, Watts and Weaver?
Australian film fans are used to Nicole Kidman, Geoffrey Rush, Peter Weir and Naomi Watts making appearances at the Academy Awards, but what about Jacki Weaver?
Weaver, the Sydney-born 1970s sex kitten, former wife of Derryn Hinch and star of various Australian TV, film and theatre performances over the past 40 years is not just an outside shot of an Oscar nomination.
Weaver, for her performance in the brutal Melbourne-set crime drama Animal Kingdom, is a red hot favourite to be nominated for best supporting actress at the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony held at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre on February 27.
Watch the trailer for ‘Animal Kingdom’ below:
Her campaign received a mighty boost earlier this week when the first major test of the Hollywood award season, the National Board of Review, handed Weaver its supporting actress prize.
The 63-year-old actress’ performance as Smurf, the evil matriarch of a family of hoodlums, has most US Oscar experts pencilling her in with Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Amy Adams (The Fighter) and Barbara Hershey (Black Swan) for the five supporting actress nominations.
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The Hollywood film distributor behind Animal Kingdom in the US, Sony Pictures Classics, is pushing hard with ads in major US newspapers and film trade magazines. The ads are dominated with photos of Weaver and quotes from top critics, including Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers who wrote: "Jacki Weaver sets the screen ablaze".
What may hamper Weaver’s chances is her busy schedule.
Instead of campaigning in Los Angeles at the regular circuit of cocktail parties and question and answer sessions, Weaver will be performing on stage 10,000km away alongside Cate Blanchett in the Sydney Theatre Company’s staging of Uncle Vanya.
After Australia came up empty-handed at the last Academy Awards ceremony, Australia can expect plenty of nominations and a few wins on February 27.
Kidman, written off by a LA Times columnist in 2008 as not being a "movie star", is now considered a sure bet by the LA Times of picking up a best actress Oscar nomination for her new drama, Rabbit Hole, where she plays a mother dealing with the death of her son in an accident.
Watch trailer for Rabbit Hole below:
"Our Oscarologists agree there are three sure bets for a nomination: Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) and Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)," The LA Times proclaimed this week.
Kidman has been feverishly promoting the role, appearing on top TV talk shows including Oprah and The View, as well as plenty of Hollywood events.
Rush, playing an eccentric Australian speech therapist in the drama The King’s Speech, is locked in a race for the supporting actor Oscar with Welsh actor Christian Bale, for his role as a crack addict in The Fighter.
Watch trailer for The King’s Speech below:
Watts is an outside chance for a best actress nomination for her portrayal of outed CIA spy Valerie Plame in the thriller Fair Game.
The wild card for Australia at the Oscars is Weir’s latest directing effort, The Way Back, a film based on the memoir of Slavomir Rawicz who escaped a Siberian gulag and walked 6400km to India. The film stars Colin Farrell and, if it generates Oscar momentum, could not only pick up nominations for Weir, but also his key Australian crew members including film editor Lee Smith and cinematographer Russell Boyd.
Smith’s best chance for an Oscar could be for another film, the Christopher Nolan sci-fi thriller Inception.
Australia also has an outside shot in the animation feature film category with Sydney-made Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of GaHoole. The Academy last month announced the 15 films in the running and Legend of the Guardians made the list, but the favourites are Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist and Tangled.
The Oscar outlook will become clearer next week with the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees announced.