Despite rave reviews from critics and friends with good taste, when I saw the movie “Precious” last year I expected to be disappointed. Before seeing the movie I read Push, the novel by Sapphire on which the film is based, and I was blown away. Sapphire’s use of raw, real language and vivid descriptions took readers inside Precious’ mind and inside her world. While reading the book I felt unbelievably connected to the character of Claireece Precious Jones, truly the sign of a well-written work. I thought there’d be no way the movie would measure up.
I thought wrong. The film surprised me and was just as compelling as the novel. I believe the movie was such a success largely due to the outstanding job by Mo’Nique, who plays Mary, Precious’ abusive mother. Mary not only uses her daughter as a punching bag, but also looks the other way as her man molests Precious and impregnates her — twice — and tries to use her granddaughter as a cash cow to milk more money from the welfare system.
A.O. Scott, a film critic for The New York Times, wrote that Mo’Nique played Mary with “operatic fervor.” Mo’Nique’s performance is breathtaking, authentic and haunting and has everyone talking Oscar.
Mo’Nique, however, has made it clear that though she cares deeply about “Precious” and is honored to among those mentioned for a possible Academy Award nomination, she’s not on the Oscar campaign trail.
You see this is the time of year when actors who are among the hopefuls hit any red carpet they can find and tell anyone who will listen how thrilled they would be just to be nominated.
In a recent New York Times profile, Mo’Nique says frankly she doesn’t have time for all the brouhaha and really doesn’t get why it’s necessary. Busy taking care of her family and taping six shows a week for “The Mo’Nique Show,” her daily talk show on BET, Mo’Nique feels her performance alone is all the Academy should need to determine whether or not she’s worthy of the award.
Mo’Nique told the Times:
“Anytime I’ve been given an award, it has been because of the performance; what else goes into it?” she said… “Look, it makes me appreciative any time someone says they may want to honor your performance. I’m appreciative at any talk in reference to any award, but there’s not much I can do about it now. The performance is done.”
I hear ya, girl. Of course, some have accused Mo’Nique of having a diva attitude regarding the Oscars. “Deny her a nomination and teach her a lesson,” quipped Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere.
Actors Terrance Howard, who was Oscar-nominated for the 2005 film “Hustle and Flow, and Taraji P. Henson, who received a nomination for 2008’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” told Mo’Nique that Oscar hopefuls are expected to campaign as if they’re running for presidential office. Her response?
“President Barack Obama had to campaign because he had something to prove: that he could do it,” she said. “Well, the performance is on the screen. So at what point am I still trying to prove something?”