Credit: James Devaney/

Image Credit: James Devaney/WireImage.comA couple weeks ago, I groused to you about how I thought Javier Bardem’s powerful performance in Biutiful has been unfairly overlooked during this awards season so far. Well, it turns out I have a sister in my disappointment: Julia Roberts. And she’s decided to do something about it. Tonight in Los Angeles, Roberts hosted a screening of Biutiful on behalf of Bardem (her costar in Eat Pray Love) for a select industry crowd. Along with Bardem and his glowingly pregnant wife, Penélope Cruz, I spotted actors Kyle MacLachlan and Robert Forster among the attendees. Taking a break from working the room, Roberts spoke exclusively to EW about her admiration for Bardem’s achievement, and her excitement at working with — speaking of the Oscars — Meryl Streep.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is it about Javier’s performance in Biutiful that you’re so passionate about?

JULIA ROBERTS: He’s so raw and completely open to sharing every emotion this character has. I was telling him at dinner tonight, when I watched it I had to keep stopping and saying, “Okay, this is not actually happening to Javier.” Because it’s his face and his big eyes. I think it’s unexpected for a man to expose himself so deeply. And it’s incredibly agonizing in its subtleties. I just have a great appreciation for what he went through to show us all this. I know it had to hurt.

So why hasn’t he gotten more recognition? There was no SAG nomination, no Globe nomination, not even a critics award.

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.

I know of at least one Academy member who put the Biutiful DVD in the player and took it out after the first half hour because it was just too bleak.

I don’t know how you couldn’t want to know what happens. I hope that person is haunted until the end of time wanting to know what happened.

So is there any hope for Javier? Can he score enough No. 1 votes to get a Best Actor nomination?

If there’s not hope for talent, then we’re f—ed.

If Javier is your No. 1 pick, what about your other Eat Pray Love costar, James Franco?

Oh God, don’t put me in that position! It’s apples and oranges. He’s hosting the Oscars, so he might have an edge.

Your next movie is August: Osage County with Meryl Streep. Could that be your return trip to the ceremony?

I think that will just be my trip to heaven to be with Meryl Streep in that scenario. It’s a dream come true.

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