Feb. 10, 2011 -- As actress Annette Bening heads into her fourth Academy Award nomination for her leading role in "The Kids Are Alright," the question on everyone's mind is if she can finally capture the elusive Oscar.
Having previously been nominated for her roles as the manipulative seductress in "The Grifters," the high-strung wife in "American Beauty" and the stage diva in "Being Julia," Bening has lost all three awards -- twice to Hilary Swank.
"It hurts, yeah," she told ABC News' Cynthia McFadden. "The thing about being nominated ... the chiche is that it's an honor. But you know what, it's true when you think about it. ... It's such an honor."
Although critics have said Bening, 52, should be the frontrunner for best actress this year, the veteran nominee faces yet another powerful challenge from Natalie Portman for her role in "Black Swan."
"It's nerve-wracking," Bening said. "Especially because, of course, they do put the camera right on your face, so you have to take a deep breath and exhale and just see what happens."
The film, "The Kids Are Alright," which was a Sundance Festival smash hit, had been in the works since 2004, but Bening said it wasn't a smooth ride to the big screen.
"[It] almost didn't happen," she said. "We couldn't get people to give us some money to make it. ... I think part of it was subject matter."
Now nominated for best picture, "The Kids Are Alright" tells the story of a married lesbian couple raising their two teenagers in California.
Bening plays Nic, an OB-GYN who's the bread-winner of the family, opposite Julianne Moore, who plays Jules, the stay-at-home mom. Each of the women has a child through an anonymous sperm donor, Paul, played by Mark Ruffalo.
Bening said it took "a lot of diligence" for everyone involved in the film to see it through, and she was proud of what the film had accomplished.
"This was something that we did have a hard time getting financing," she said. "[Now] it's nominated as best picture. It's part of what people are talking about. It's become part of our contemporary pop culture world."
On a lighter note, Bening said Moore was "at the top" of her list of good kissers.
"We've actually talked about this," Bening said, referring to Moore. "Because both of us have kissed a lot of guys, OK? That's the bottom line. So, we both agree we'd much rather kiss each other than many of the men we've had to kiss."
Annette Bening: 'Who Wants to Tame a Man?'
Bening credits much of her success to the support of her husband, actor Warren Beatty.
"He's so silly," she said. "He's been so great through this whole process with me, and we call him my arm candy now."
The couple has been married for the past 19 years, and cynics have often credited Bening for "taming" the man once known as the "Great Seducer."
"It sounds awful," she said. "Who wants to tame a man? I certainly don't."
With four children of their own, Bening said what really changed her husband was becoming a dad.
"He's a wonderful parent," she said. "He can really talk. He can really debate. ... He loves that. He loves that with everyone, including his children."
Even after all those years, Bening said she still learned a thing or two about marriage from working on "The Kids Are Alright."
"The fact that these two women stay together at the end," Bening said, "I feel like that's organic to the story. I believe that. ... My parents have been married 60 years. ... That's a long time."
When asked if she mirrored her character, Nic, in real life at home, Bening admitted that indeed, she was more of the disciplinarian figure.
"I think that's probably fair to say," she said. "I'm the tougher one."
Bening is one of the few female movie stars who has embraced getting older, volunteering to talk about turning 50.
"Life experience is good," she said. "I like being a veteran. I like that. I mean, I'm really proud of that. ... I've often thought of myself as acting my whole life. I hope I can, knock on wood."