Richard Jenkins commands Oscar attention in “Eat, Pray, Love”

By Sean O’Connell Have you ever watched an actor just crush a scene, and you know that their performance just catapulted them into the Oscar race? Think Daniel Day-Lewis bellowing about milkshake drinking, Will Smith clutching his son as he holds a bathroom door shut with his foot, or Samuel L. Jackson talking about how he plans to walk the path of the righteous man in “Pulp Fiction.”

Richard Jenkins, a tremendous actor who already earned an acting nomination for “The Visitor,” has one of those scenes in Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of Liz Gilbert’s best-selling memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love.” And the minute it’s over, you know that Jenkins has become a serious contender for one of the five Best Supporting Actor nominations in 2010.

I can’t say much about “Eat, Pray,” which casts Julia Roberts as Gilbert in Murphy’s globetrotting drama. Reviews are off limits until the movie opens on Friday.

But Jenkins owns a scene where he tells a story from his character’s past regarding his son. You’ll know it when you see it. It’s breathtaking. I have a strong feeling we’ll be talking about Jenkins – and his co-stars – for the duration of the Oscar season.

“Eat, Pray, Love” opens this Friday, Aug. 13.

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