When the Oscar nominations were announced the other day, I looked at the Best Supporting Actress category and thought, Who’s Jacki Weaver? Her movie, “Animal Kingdom,” sounded like a documentary about gorillas in Africa or something. I was baffled. So I figured I’d better see what all the fuss was about.
First of all, here’s who Jacki Weaver is.
I guess it escaped me that the 63-year-old Australian actress was also nominated for a Golden Globe. Anyhow, she’s been working in her native country for years but has only now achieved international recognition for a role that was, apparently, written just for her.
And what a role it is. I saw the movie last night and she’s just about the scariest movie mother since Faye Dunaway in “Mommie Dearest.” Come to think of it, there have been quite a few monster moms at the movies this season – from Barbara Hershey in “Black Swan” to Melissa Leo in “The Fighter.” But Jacki Weaver tops them all. Why? Because she plays the matriarch of an Australian crime family with the sweetness of a ’50s mother in a Betty Crocker commercial. Her sons are killing cops and getting killed by cops, and she’s either cooking for her boys or kissing them and acting like it’s just another day in paradise. But underneath all that sweetness is a cruelty that makes Tony Soprano look like a neighborhood minister. Here’s the trailer.
I didn’t love the film. I found it slow in parts and difficult to follow, primarily because the Australian accents are so thick; I’m sure I missed key dialogue. What I didn’t miss was the electrifying performance by Weaver. She won’t win the Oscar (my money’s on either Melissa Leo or Amy Adams, as I’ve said), but I’ll pay attention the next time I see her name in the credits.