Dreamgirls

DreamgirlsBBBB.5

(out of 5)

From the opening shot this film has a dazzling energy that never slackens before the explosive finale. A loosely factual chronicle of the birth of R&B and the early days of The Supremes, it begins with a three-girl singing group being discovered at a talent contest by a car salesman (Jamie Foxx) who sees them as his ticket into show business. Immediately signing them to sing backup for an increasingly popular singer (Eddie Murphy, in a showstopping performance), Foxx eventually lets the girls be their own act but pushes the superbly-voiced lead singer (Jennifer Hudson) out of the way in favour of the slender, more camera-ready Beyonce Knowles in order to give the girls their best chance at success. Professional rivalries and personal conflicts being what they are, the girls eventually take paths that will lead them places unexpected, some to financial gains and others to personal ones. Writer-director Bill Condon, adapting the explosive Broadway hit into an equally unforgettable film, treats his audience with intellectual respect by glossing over the plot details that any viewer will already be overly familiar with and concentrating mainly on the fantastic singing. As marvelous as everyone is, including Knowles who finally sings and looks like a grown woman in her beautiful Diana Ross wigs, none of them match the intensity of Hudson, an American Idol contestant making her feature film debut and stealing the entire show. Her delivery of dialogue definitely reveals someone new to the game of acting (which isn’t to say she’s bad, merely green), but she starts to sing and what comes out of her is raw, honest, vulnerable and heartbreaking, singing that strikes a deep nerve in you that you won’t forget. Watching this young woman become a star during the running time of this film is one of the most pleasurable experiences a movie watcher can have. Sharon Davis (Oscar nominee for Ray) outdoes herself with the gorgeous costumes, the photography is shot-for-shot perfect, and the whole thing clips along at a steady pace that never flags.

USA, 2006

Directed by Bill Condon

Screenplay by Bill Condon, based on the musical book by Tom Eyen

Cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler

Academy Awards
Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Hudson as “Effie White”)
Best Sound Mixing (Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer, Willie Burton)

Nominations
Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Eddie Murphy as “James ‘Thunder’ Early”)
Best Art Direction (art direction: John Myhre; set decoration: Nancy Haigh)
Best Costume Design (Sharen Davis)
Best Music (Original Song) (“Listen”, music by Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler; lyric by Anne Preven)
Best Music (Original Song) (“Love You I Do”, music by Henry Krieger; lyric by Siedah Garrett)
Best Music (Original Song) (“Patience”, music by Henry Krieger; lyric by Willie Reale)

Golden Globe Awards
Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Jennifer Hudson)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Eddie Murphy)

Nominations
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical (Beyonce Knowles)
Best Original Song-Motion Picture (“Listen”, music and lyrics by Scott Cutler, Beyonce Knowles, Henry Krieger, Anne Preven)

New York Film Critics Award
Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson)

Nomination
Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy)

Los Angeles Film Critics Award Nomination
Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson)

National Society of Film Critics Award Nomination
Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson)

National Board Of Review Award
Best Breakthrough Performance-Female (Jennifer Hudson) (tie)

Screen Actors Guild Awards
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Hudson)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Eddie Murphy)

Nomination
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Directors Guild Award Nomination
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (Bill Condon)

British Academy Award
Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Hudson)

Nomination
Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music

Toronto Film Critics Award Nomination
Best Supporting Performance, Female (Jennifer Hudson)

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