Well, here she is. It constantly amazes me how a performance that swept almost every award under the sun and received loud and strong critical acclaim from almost every angle was able to become such an object of hate on the entire Internet. Admitting that you like this performance is like admitting that you eat babies. But what can I say? Yes, Jennifer Hudson is obviously still a beginner in Dreamgirls and sometimes the part is clearly too challenging for her but at the same time there is something so outstanding, so spectacular and so first-class about her that I have to no problem to confess that yes, I really admire this performance.
There is often the argument against her that the Oscars aren’t the Grammys and she should not be awarded for her great singing voice – for me, this is a little too simple. Because even though her voice is undoubtedly the strongest aspect of her performance, she still also acts all these singing scenes – and she does it well. I admit that right at the beginning, her performance is a bit shaky – her tough behavior, her delivery of the lines ‘I don’t do back-up’ or ‘This dress does nothing for my body’ falls incredibly flat and her inexperience is obvious at every moment of her performance. But somehow, she begins to improve very fast. Her relationship with Jamie Foxx is done extremely well and she beautifully develops the character of Effie during the run of Dreamgirls.
Jennifer Hudson makes Effie strong and self-confident without making her annoying or unlikable. Her disappointment when she is taken away the lead in the band and her argument with the others show that Jennifer Hudson can be a true force on the screen if she wants to be. Her voice may unfortunately change its tone too often (which makes her sound sometimes like Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite) but she captures the essence of her character effortlessly at these moments.
Effie White surely is the kind of role awards were made for and it would have taken a lot to ruin this part – but Jennifer Hudson does not rely on the strength of the role but instead does her most to create Effie herself. Her inexperience as an actress may be noticeable a lot of times but the thing is that Jennifer Hudson still has such natural instincts for the part and the process of movie-making that it doesn’t really matter. She may be an amateur but on a very high level. A rough diamond but still a diamond.
She also gladly overcomes some obstacles that normally tend to ruin a lot of inexperienced performances – she never appears controlled or too calculated in her role, she is able to let herself completely go and let the character take over her performance. Her work during ‘It’s all over’ is especially very impressive just like her later scenes when she has to start her life anew.
I don’t mind it if a performance is dubbed but if somebody sings a part himself or herself, I gladly give a little extra bonus. And Jennifer Hudson surely deserves some extra bonus. Her rendition of ‘And I am telling you’ is simply mind-blowing and it’s so wonderful to see that she does not only try to turn these singing moments into showcases for herself but stays in character and expresses all the emotions of Effie through these songs.
So, it’s a very strong role with a lot of great moments and Jennifer Hudson gives a performance that I would easily call ‘great’. Sure, her inexperience is too obvious sometimes which is also the reason why she doesn’t get a higher ranking but I have no problem to give her this position as a testament to her overall wonderful debut.