We're breaking down all the Oscar contenders for you, so that you can decide whether you want to see them -- or at the very least, hold your own at cocktail parties. Next up: 'Animal Kingdom,' the Australian family crime thriller.

Nominated For: Best Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver)

What It's About: After his junkie mother ODs, teeange Josh -- "J" to his family -- moves in with his grandmother, affectionately known as "Smurf" (Weaver), and her three sons. J quickly discovers that his uncles are, in fact, notorious armed robbers and three of the most wanted men in Melbourne. As J begins to enter manhood, he is pushed closer to his family's criminal ways, all while the police are closing in on them with lethal force. He is torn between an officer of the law, who is trying to help him escape his dangerous family, and his loving grandmother, who is far more sinister and manipulative than she appears.

Why You Should See It: Weaver's performance has already wracked up plenty of awards and nominations, and if you haven't had a chance to see the movie yet, it may not seem like she's worth the hype, compared to some of her competition's bigger and broader performances. But as grandma "Smurf," she controls the energy of every scene she is in, effortlessly raising the film's claustrophoic tension. As the story progresses, she reveals herself as a criminal mastermind able to dupe the legal system, and as a woman who shows no qualms about sacrificing one of her young cubs. Beyond her character, the film is filled out by a talented ensemble of Australia's biggest stars who play off each other in grim, ominous scenes.

It's Kind Of Like: 'A Bronx Tale' meets 'Layer Cake'

How You Can See It: Now on DVD

Watch the Trailer for 'Animal Kingdom'


The Director and Star Talk About the Movie's True Crime History
Get More Info on 'Animal Kingdom'

See the full list of 2011 Oscar nominations


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CATEGORIES Features, Oscars, Awards