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Julia Roberts on Javier Bardem: 'If There's Not Hope for Talent, We're F-----'

Ikiru Films/Focus Features

At last night's CAA screening of Biutiful, host Julia Roberts called Biutiful star (and her Eat Pray Love costar) Javier Bardem's Oscar-hopeful performance "a magic trick and a miracle all together."

Directly addressing Bardem as his very pregnant wife Penelope Cruz looked on, Roberts said, "I feel great that as an actor I can look him in the eye and see what he has accomplished, like a magic trick and a miracle all together." Then, to the audience, so packed people were sitting in the aisles, Roberts added, "Enjoy this man, revealing himself in a way he has never done before."

Roberts joins a parade of Hollywood heavyweights throwing punches on behalf of Bardem's stunning performance, emotionally the opposite of his Oscar-winning role as No Country for Old Men's cold killer but equally overwhelming. Roberts follows Oscar-season Bardem-boostings by Michael Mann, Werner Herzog and Sean Penn, who aptly called his performance "the first on this level of soulful gravitas since Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris."

Yet as EW's Dave "Scoop" Karger pointed out to Roberts at the screening, Bardem's been snubbed by SAG, the Globes and the critics' awards. "The movie hasn't gotten the exposure," Roberts explained. "Especially in this particular season, people don't hunt for things. They just take what you throw in their face."

When Karger said one Academy member punched "eject" after 30 minutes because Biutiful was too bleak, Roberts snapped, "I hope that person is haunted until the end of time wanting to know what happened."

Even with friends in high places, plus outraged pundits like Steve Pond, Jeff Wells and others decrying the injustice done to Bardem and Biutiful, can they prevail at the Oscars without winning precursor kudos? "If there's not hope for talent, then we're f-----," said Roberts.

She thinks her other Eat Pray Love costar James Franco has a better shot: "He's hosting the Oscars, so he might have an edge."

Academy members will cast votes as they see fit. But if they haven't seen Biutiful, it's an inexcusably ignorant vote.

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