Animal Kingdom

Rated 4.0

Since the Hollywood machine can only write “strong” female characters as shopaholics, prostitutes and/or Sandra Bullock, it’s much easier for indie and import films to successfully push actresses for awards consideration than their male co-stars. So although gratifying, it wasn’t a surprise that 63 year-old Jacki Weaver was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her turn as an alternately affectionate and cutthroat crime-family matriarch in the little-seen Animal Kingdom. Therefore, it also shouldn’t be a surprise that Weaver gives perhaps the second or third best performance in David Michôd’s unsettling Australian crime drama. The best performance in an impressive bunch is actually given by Ben Mendelsohn as Andrew “Pope” Cody, an understated but dangerously paranoid psychopath who seems capable of literally anything—and proves it. Mendelsohn is mesmerizing and disturbing enough to forgive Animal Kingdom for its occasional gaping plot holes.