Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Weaver Is a Contender

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Weaver Is a Contender

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Mitchell

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.

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.

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".

Sony did not have to search far and wide for positive reviews.

The New York Times described Weaver's character as a "seductive hybrid of Lady Macbeth and Ma Barker" while the Boston Globe said Weaver played "a chirpy, lethal mother hen who's the most unnerving maternal presence since Margaret Wycherly offered her lap to the grown Jimmy Cagney in 1949's White Heat".

Sony is also pushing Animal Kingdom's writer-director David Michod for the best original screenplay Oscar.

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.

To help keep the momentum going Weaver is making herself available for phone interviews with America's top publications, including interviews this week with two of the most influential, Vanity Fair and Variety.

"The thing about playing someone inherently evil, the tendency for the actor is to show how evil she is from the beginning, like a Disney witch," Weaver told Vanity Fair.

"I think it's more interesting if it's a slow burn."

To also help keep the Oscar buzz going, Sony has sent out T-shirts to American media members with a scary photo of Weaver and her classic line from Animal Kingdom: "You've done some bad things, sweetie". …

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