EW commemorates ''Erin Brockovich'''s Oscar-worthy actress

By Steve Daly
December 22, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

It’s a time-tested formula: Plucky woman, drawn from real life, beats big bad bureaucracy — and outshines the menfolk doing it. Sally Field achieved Best Actress glory in such a tale with Norma Rae. Now another crusader’s story seems certain to make an Oscar contender of Roberts, who so winningly walked the high-heeled walk and talked the potty-mouthed talk of legal attack dog Erin Brockovich. Roberts has never looked more beyond-mortal fabulous, wearing push-up bras and supertight miniskirts while clutching a baby in one arm and a bundle of incriminating papers against a gas and electric company in the other. But don’t miss the craft and the beautiful sense of modulation under all the dazzle. Roberts knows to aim for knockdown brassy while slamming her unsupportive co-workers (”Bite my ass, Krispy Kreme!”), but she pulls back at the right moments — like when pleading for a job from her boss (Albert Finney) by softly imploring ”Don’t make me beg.” We won’t, Julia. You so deserve Oscar props.