Julia Roberts received her third Oscar nomination and won the Oscar for playing the real life Erin Brokovich, a woman with a big mouth and no patience. She has three kids and is struggling to make ends meet. She gets a job working for her former lawyer and she ends up investigating a case where PG & E is responsible for poisoning a whole town.
Just like Cate Blanchett this last year, Julia Roberts was a huge lock for Best Actress that year: She had been nominated and lost twice before, she gives a very dramatic and entertaining performance , she was in a Best Picture nominated movie that voters were able to reward with her win, and Hollywood wanted to honor one of their biggest stars. I'm guessing she won in a landslide.
Erin Brokovich is a terrific film: It tells a very entertaining, moving story with excellent acting. Soderbergh's brilliant visual style does wonders to the film, making it have a very realistic and perfect look. I feel the movie is highly deserving of it's Oscar nominations, although Traffic was the best that year.
Julia Robert's win is one of the most hated ever. I guess I can see why: Erin Brokovich is hardly a likeable woman, at least the one thats portrayed in this film and Julia Roberts is a star whose usually considered obnoxious and arrogant. If we were judging her by her speech, I'd agree, but here Roberts hits a high note here, at least with me. Erin is supposed to be over the top, throwing herself around and being rude to people. And Roberts nails this. She is terrific and very convincing. Seriously, could anyone else have played this part? Her big scenes are excellent, she really shows us that she cares about what she's doing and that it means so much to her. We see the wonderful self-worth and confidence that her job gives her and Roberts is wonderful at showing the woman behind Erin's confident persona. The vulnerability and depth she gives to her is very noteworthy. I love the scene where Eckart is describing her baby daughter's first word. She beautifully shows the happiness this brings her and she does it so naturally. She has great chemistry with Aaron Eckhart and with Albert Finney, although she overshadows both of them, given its so much of her movie.
That said, I do think that the performance becomes a bit repetitive. It is isn't Julia's fault, but there are so many scenes where she has such a strong opinionated attitude that it gets a bit wearing after a while. It's still impressive, but it does take some points away from her. There are also times where I think she knows it, which makes some of her scenes unconvincing.
But overall, Roberts commands the movie with a wonderful performance. She is entertaining, she has energy, and she understands the character so well that the results are truly great.