Julia Roberts prays for Javier Bardem

Julia Roberts hosted a screening of Biutiful for members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this week, doing her best to drum up support for her Eat Pray Love co-star in his wrenching turn as a Barcelona black-marketeer in the thus-far-little-seen Spanish-language entry. The Oscar-winning actress (for Erin Brockovich) is campaigning for a best actor nomination for Bardem, whose performance in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s gritty, sprawling drama is truly one of the greatest things Bardem has done: sad, subtle, visceral, totally there.

“He’s raw and completely open to sharing every emotion this character has,” Roberts told EW staffer Dave Karger. When asked why she thinks Bardem has been virtually ignored this awards season -- no Golden Globe or SAG nominations, and only a few critics citations (although Bardem did share best actor honors for his Biutiful work last May at Cannes) – Roberts said, “I think the movie hasn’t gotten the exposure. You don’t know where it is. It’s like this hidden little jewel. Especially in this particular season, people don’t hunt for things. They just take what you throw in their face.” Here's the link to the EW item.
Biutiful opened in New York and L.A. just in time to qualify for Oscar consideration. It bows in Philadelphia later this month or early next. It’s a strong film, but Bardem’s portrayal of a small-time hustler trying to put his life in order is beyond strong – it’s the stuff of greatness, really. Hear! Hear! to Roberts for making some noise.