But, first, here is what Kenneth Turan said of the film in his L.A. Times review: " 'Animal Kingdom' is an art house crime saga that will put your heart in your mouth, a moody, brooding, modern-day film noir that marks the impressive debut of an Australian writer-director who knows how to make a film that is, in his own words, 'dark and violent yet beautiful and poetic at the same time .... Faultlessly acted by top Australian talent, including Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver."
Weaver portrays the protagonist's grandmother, "a tiny blond woman, upbeat and bubbly, whom everyone calls Smurf," adds Turan. Rob is optimistic that Weaver can reap an Oscar nomination for supporting actress, which is already a crowded contest: Helena Bonham Carter ("The King's Speech"), Marion Cotillard ("Inception"), Barbara Hershey ("Black Swan"), Melissa Leo ("The Fighter"), Miranda Richardson ("Made in Dangenham"), Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit"), Dianne Wiest ("Rabbit Hole").
Weaver does have a few pluses in this race: (1) "Animal Kingdom" was the first DVD screener sent to Oscar voters this derby season and (2) Sony Pictures Classics has been actively tub-thumping for Weaver by sending us Oscar bloggers T-shirts with her image on the front. (Thanks, SPC! Do I have to declare this on my taxes?)
Here is Rob's report:
With word that Sony Pictures Classics' "Animal Kingdom" reaped a record-breaking 18 Australian Film Institute Award nominations, including a nomination as best actress for Jacki Weaver, the talk is getting even louder for Jacki Weaver to come "out of nowhere" (so to speak) and grab an Oscar nomination next year.
The buzz surrounding this film has been escalating ever since it won the world jury prize at Sundance earlier this year, and many have already noted that Weaver is a good bet for a nomination for best supporting actress in what many deem to be a relatively open category.
Weaver's nomination as lead actress is typical of the Australian Film Institute, which tends to nominate even a supporting performance in lead when there are no other actresses in the film in more prominent roles.
Does the Australian Film Institute nomination mean much for Oscar voters? Since 2000, only three films nominated by the Australian Film Institute have gone on to be nominated or awarded by the academy.
In 2001, "Moulin Rouge!" reaped a ton of Australian Film Institute nominations and wins, including film editing, best film, cinematography, sound, art direction, costume design and lead actress for Nicole Kidman, all of which went on to earn Oscar nominations (with wins for costumes and art direction).
A couple of years ago, Catherine Martin received an Australian Film Institute nomination for her costume design on "Australia," which also earned her an Oscar nomination. And last year, Janet Patterson received an Oscar bid for her costume design on "Bright Star" and she is now up for the same category at the Australian Film Institute Awards later this year.
So, although the Australian Film Institute doesn't necessarily mean Jacki Weaver's chances at Oscar glory next year are boosted in any meaningful way, it surely helps to get the word out.
Photo: Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom." Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics.