'Dreamgirls' is a dream come true — a perfect film
Technically, we journos aren't permitted to review the film yet, so I won't go into much detail, but it would be negligent not to report on what happened tonight at the first media screening of "Dreamgirls" at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills.
Bill Condon and crew blasted the roof off the joint. We now, officially, have a best picture frontrunner and one that's going to be tough to beat.
I eavesdropped on lots of conversations out in the lobby afterward and everybody was raving, gushing, shaking, cheering. Clearly, "Dreamgirls" is a dream come true as a film production. It transforms a Broadway classic into a movie masterpiece. In fact, it's even better than its stage original. I'm a longtime fan, I'm allowed to say that. The new song additions are transcendental. "I Love You, I Do" is a bouncy delight, but "Listen" is a knockout. While watching "Dreamgirls," just when you think Jennifer Hudson has stolen the whole film from Beyonce the same diva way Beyonce steals the Dreams away from Hudson in the film story, Beyonce rallies with a song that dares to try to upstage "Dreamgirls'" emotional core: Hudson's rip-your-head-off performance of one of the great f-you songs in Broadway lore — "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."
Beyonce comes close, but — naaaaaaaaaw — nothing tops Hudson. She not only owns this movie, she rides it like a rocket to instant superstardom. For months and months "Dreamgirls" fans have been beset with worry, wondering: Can Jennifer really nail "And I Am Telling You"? If she doesn't, the whole show falls apart.
The result is so good that DreamWorks/Paramount now faces a strange problem: Should they bump Hudson up to the lead actress race or keep her in supporting? Frankly, this movie belongs to her. She should be in lead, but let's be realistic. If she goes up against Helen Mirren at the Oscars, she'll get clobbered. However, if only she'll just stay put in supporting, we can declare that race won, wrapped up and ready for the history books. No other divas need apply.
DreamWorks/Paramount has officially decided to keep Hudson in supporting, as it originally reported here at GoldDerby, but soon the Hollywood Foreign Press Association could mess up everything. What if they push her into lead? It could really happen. Members can be very bull-headed about things like that. That race on the comedy/musical side is already pretty tight with Annette Bening ("Running with Scissors"), Mery Streep ("The Devil Wears Prada"), Renee Zellweger ("Miss Potter"), Abigail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine"), Cameron Diaz ("The Holiday") and Dakota Fanning ("Charlotte's Web"). Who's going to get bumped out? Beyonce maybe? To be brutally honest, she's one of the weakest candidates. If the Globes fail to nominate her, the ticked-off diva might not show up at the ceremony, even if she's asked to sing "Listen" as a best-song nominee. That could be catastrophic to the celeb-obsessed Globes.
And what about poor Hudson? If she's pushed into lead, she's going to have to go up against Meryl as the magnificent bitch of "Prada." Come on! Does anyone really have a prayer of beating the devil in that smackdown?
Maybe Hudson does. Just maybe. She's such a breakout star of this awards season that it's possible she could prevail, but, if she did, and did so nominated opposite Beyonce, it would be a repeat of the embarrassment that occurred at the Tonys in 1982. That's where the supporting star who played Hudson's role (Jennifer Holliday) had the nerve to beat Beyonce's counterpart (Sheryl Lee Ralph) for best actress in a musical.
Now, if only the Globes would just play ball with everybody and pretend that Hudson's role is really just supporting, then everything can go according to plan, thank you very much. Hudson can win supporting actress and the Globe voters can feel like they once again ordained a future Oscar champ. This way Beyonce will likely be nominated for best lead actress (voters HAVE to put someone from the show in that lineup), so HFPA will be assured that Beyonce will show up.
But will everybody play ball? DreamWorks/Paramount execs already have their argument mapped out to present to HFPA, claiming that just Beyonce is lead, not Hudson. They've counted up the minutes of each diva's face time. Technically, Beyonce has the most. OK. Maybe so. But in many of those scenes she's in the background while Hudson wows the audience.
Photo: Jennifer Hudson hits just the right notes as she belts out "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going," the crowning glory of "Dreamgirls."