Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Dreamgirls" Delivers

Roger Friedman of FoxNews.com loved it. Tom O'Neil of the LA Times loved it even more and discusses the Oscar race. It's definitely a strong contender for one of the five Best Picture slots and -- as Friedman says -- Eddie Murphy will be thrilled just to be discussed as a potential Supporting Actor nomination and might well get it. It's a glossy, fun movie musical that maybe doesn't dig deep emotionally as much as it might but delivers spot-on performances and one terrific song after another. And if Meryl Streep stays in the Best Actress category, Jennifer Hudson will be the favorite in Supporting. It's very old fashioned in the best sense of the word, right down to a closing credits celebration of the cast that includes "and introducing Jennifer Hudson!" with all the flourish of an old school movie studio. If "Dreamgirls" wins Best Picture, it will be the first film with black characters not surrounded or led by a token white to do so, I believe. Today, I'd say the nominees are "Volver," "Dreamgirls," "The Departed" and "The Queen," with "Bobby" and "Little Miss Sunshine" fighting for the final slot. I still haven't seen "Miss Potter," "Charlotte's Web," "Breaking And Entering" or the two "Goods" -- "The Good German" and "The Good Shepherd."

5 comments:

altmike said...

I saw Dreamgirls last night at a media premiere in Orlando. Jennifer Hudson got a round of applause twice after her big songs from a crowd that doesn't usually show much emotion. In my opinion the movie was structured similarly to one of my favorites- "Grace of My Heart". I am having a hard time trying to figure out who exactly will be the audience for Dreamgirls. I know gay guys like me will be there...but I don't think it will have the broad appeal that I think many are expecting....

theatrbuff said...

I saw a screening last night as well and let's just say I wasn't blown away by the movie as I'd hoped to be.

It was rather disjointed with some heavy-handed direction at times (Effie running out into the artifical looking Detroit riots, Curtis' bizarre and annoying discovery of his daughter), and not a lot of true soul (very much one dimensional) with the exception of Hudson.

Toward the end I felt kind of like I was watching "Valley of the Black Dolls."

But Jennifer Hudson was definitely a standout. She thoroughly owned "And I'm Telling You." That scene will probably stand up there with some of the greatest filmed musical numbers of all time. Very reminiscent of Barbra Streisand's "Don't Rain On My Parade" in Funny Girl (HER first film).

Ironically though, Ms. Hudson just may follow the same fate as Ms. Holliday. I mean, how many film projects are out there waiting for an overweight black actress whose singing skills outshine her acting?

Ms. Holliday ended up doing disco tunes and performing in small gay bars (where I initially saw her, and it was pretty incredible). Let's hope that fate doesn't await Ms. Hudson, even if she does take home the Oscar.

Eddie Murphy was pretty good too, although his character appreared to represent several decades worth of black musicians ranging from Little Richard to Marvin Gaye.

Beyonce had a nice moment with "Listen," the song written specifically for the film, but never really stood out. It was more like she was modeling the varied looks of Diana Ross through the decades.

As mikenorlando said it will be interesting to see who the audience (if there is one) for this film turns out to be.

Michael in New York said...

I'd give the film three stars out of four on first viewing. I wasn't blown away either but the songs are too great and delivered too well for me to be disappointed. Sure, there was a brilliant masterpiece there for the making. But since we get about one musical a year, I'm glad this year it was this instead of the over-edited Chicago or Moulin Rouge. I thought Beyonce did her part well -- but as others have said, Effie is supposed to steamroll over her emotionally. I don't necessarily expect Hudson to have a huge career -- in some ways, the role is so tailor-made for her talents right now, it's hard to know how she'd do in other roles. But Anika Noni-Rose was fun in the minor role of the third Dreamette and Beyonce has a great coy moment when they announce she'll be the lead singer; she watches and waits and protests and says it should be Effie...but she doesn't protest too much. And her "Listen" was v good, as were the other new songs. I like Grace of My Heart too, especially the GREAT songs written for it, obviously God Give Me Strength at the top of that list.

I have no idea how this movie will do commercially. It's opening Dec 15 in limited release, it's sure to get good to very good reviews and do terrific business. I'm sure their plan is to ride on critics top 10 lists and year end surveys to get attention steamrolling for it. And Beyonce is a huge pop star of course, Eddie Murphy still a big name and with all of them together, this can definitely do $30-40 mil just from the black community alone. I'll bet it crosses over and anything from $60 to $90 mil is possible. And then come Oscar nominations.... If everything falls right, $100 mil is a distinct but long-shot possibility. Heck, "Chicago" made $170 mil. And let me ask one question, will you two go see it again? I will.

sftom said...

Looking very forward to Dreamgirls, the promo is even my computer wallpaper - how gay is that!
As for some other Oscar thoughts; have you heard anything about Zodiac? I see it's set for a January release. Does that mean they didn't think it was good enough to release in time to be considered for an award?

Michael in New York said...

SFTom, Dreamgirls wallpaper on your computer is in fact extremely gay. As for Zodiac, the David Fincher movie about the serial killer w Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr., Variety now says that's scheduled for a wide release on March 2 of next year. If there's an Oscar qualifying run that was ever scheduled, I missed it. I think it was always intended for 2007. Those actors would always spark Oscar talk of course. But March is probably the least desirable time of year for an oscar worthy film (Jan and Feb don't exist in that regard, except for a movie going wider that opened in Dec). But the timing is probably just due to when they think they can make money on the film, not any sign of lack of faith in it, per se.