Saturday, December 6, 2008

Is Beyonce Suddenly an Oscar Contender?

...don't bet on it. But with the pop star's schizophrenic double-disc album, "I Am...Sasha Fierce," climbing the pop charts, and her ensemble vehicle, "Cadillac Records," getting a pretty positive response from most critics, she's peaking at just the right time -- voting time.

In "Records," which chronicles the rise of revolutionary musicians like Muddy Waters in the 1940s, Knowles plays Etta James, going blonde and belting out the aged crooner's immortal ballad "At Last" with gusto. I've not yet seen it, but here's what other critics are saying of Beyonce's work:

"Beyonce...just about burns a hole in the screen with her sultry torment. As a woman who rocked the house but could get no satisfaction, Beyonce does a 'Lady Sings the Blues' in miniature."
- Owen Glieberman, Entertainment Weekly

"As the legendary James, beset by drama and drug addiction, Beyoncé delivers."
- Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

"It's Beyoncé Knowles as Etta James who's the movie's revelation. She's great. She has a terrific voice [and] a gifted singer's capacity for reaching deep into her own emotions with ease, so she hits every song out of the park. What's more, she's a real actress, who brings out James in all her complex shadings - the scalding anger, the pain, the self-hatred, the unwillingness to trust anybody and the helplessness to control her own turbulence."
- Mick La Salle, San Francisco Chronicle

"Knowles, who shines most when singing, captures James' emotional vulnerability and is substantially better than she was in Dreamgirls."
- Claudia Puig, USA Today

Okay, so that last one's a bit of a throw-away but, taken as a whole, that's some pretty good ink for a crossover star who hasn't exactly had the easiest time crossing over (remember "Goldmember?" Yeah, me too). Will she nab a Golden Globe nod like she did for - essentially - playing a version of herself in "Dreamgirls?" It's possible. Even my local film critic - the one who's not me - deemed her a probable Supporting Actress Oscar nominee. With so many other ladies vying for the spot, such a miracle isn't likely but, if it happens, know Your Movie Buddy called it.

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