Last night Julia Roberts hosted a screening of Biutiful at CAA’s Century City offices (and not at her home, as a Huffington Post rewrite person has written) on behalf of Best Actor contender Javier Bardem. During the after-event she spoke to Entertainment Weekly‘s Dave Karger, who’s one of the columnists (along with myself and TheWrap‘s Steve Pond) carrying the Bardem torch.

Biutiful star Javier Bardem posing with Julia Roberts during an Eat Pray Love event last summer.

Karger: “What is it about Javier’s performance in Biutiful that you’re so passionate about?”

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.

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

Roberts: “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.”

Wells interjection: Roadside Attractions doesn’t have marketing money to burn, but I think a lot of people know where Biutiful is. They just don’t want to watch it because they’re sensing “downer,” and some people are so downer-averse it borders on a form of neuroticism. Roberts will tell you Biutiful isn’t as easy sit — everyone knows this — but there’s so much more going on in this film other than “sad,” and almost all of it found in Bardem’s performance.

Back to Karger/Roberts…

Karger: “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.”

Roberts: “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.

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

Roberts: “If there’s not hope for talent, then we’re fucked.”