Precious, a film that critics rallied for and audiences followed suit, is a powerful film anchored by powerhouse performances in key heart-tugging scenes. At the forefront of this awards season in the acting categories are actresses Gabourey Sidibe in the title role of the downtrodden, pregnant teen and comedienne Mo’Nique as her abusive, savage mother.
Unlike Sidibe, Mo’Nique has not followed the traditional route of campaigning. The Golden Globes nominated her for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama yesterday. The Los Angeles Film Critics and the Boston Society of Film Critics, among others, have sung her praises as the year’s top-tier supporting actress. Yet Mo’Nique told handlers she wants to be paid to make promotional appearances, and her pigheaded apathy resulted in her publicist resigning after a two-week stint.
These facts point to a bottom line: She actually doesn’t want the award. On Novermber 9’s The Mo’Nique Show, she chatted with Oscar-nominated pals Taraji B. Henson and Terrence Howard about the weight of marketing campaigns and the long-term effect of such acclaim. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:
Mo’Nique: “We do need them to know. I guess that my feeling is just different in reference to this campaigning. I’m really trying to understand it. When everybody first started telling me about all of this buzz and everything that’s going on, I said, ‘You know what? Let me talk to my brothers and sisters who’ve been through it, who know what it is.’ Because when they say ‘campaign,’ I’m like, ‘Well, wait a minute. President Barack Obama had to campaign ‘cuz he had something to prove: that he could do it. Well, the performance is on the screen! So at what point am I still trying to prove something?‘” Howard: “You say you finished!” Mo’Nique: “I’m finished!” … Howard: “You have to prove your artistic nature to everyone that’s around you in order for them to be your supporters. Because your fans here aren’t necessarily the members of the Academy. It’s reaching that whole other group of people–” Henson: “–that’s not even aware of who Mo’Nique is, who haven’t followed you throughout your career, you know? And you may not even care about them; you may just only care about your fans.”
Mo’Nique says the work is more important than the recognition – but then why does she ask how an award win would benefit her financially? Understandable, she’s a comedienne whose riveting performance was more-or-less a one-shot deal, an item on her bucket list that she nailed.
David Sterritt, chairman of the American Society of Film Critics, sounds off on Mo’Nique’s hands-off approach in The Baltimore Sun.
“You’re probably going to be at a disadvantage,” says David Sterritt, chairman of the American Society of Film Critics. “If everybody else is doing it, you’ve got to be out there doing it, too. It should not be all about campaigns, but it probably is about campaigns.”
David Thompson, author/film critic:
“I think it gets pretty hard” to win an Oscar based on performance alone, says author and film critic David Thomson, whose latest book, “The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder,” was released late last month. “If the public knows that you’re not playing the game and you’re not likely to attend the event, I think it’s unlikely you’re going to get the vote.”
Maybe it’s time for Mo’Nique to have her moment of clarity. This time it won’t be in a welfare caseworker’s office.
Do you think Mo’Nique’s tune will change? If it doesn’t, does she still have a shot at an Oscar or Golden Globe?