This December is heavy with major movies — Zero Dark Thirty, This is 40, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Django Unchained and Les Misérables — that are literally (use the bathroom first) and metaphorically big. As they dominate the year-end conversation, it seems like a good moment to to call out some films that may not earn many mentions at award shows and top ten lists, but nevertheless charmed, entertained or impressed me throughout the year. more »
The Expendables 2 bumped last week's number one film The Bourne Legacy to number two over the weekend. The latest installment of the action pic grossed over $28.7 million in its first roll out, averaging a solid $8,670 screens. Bourne dropped 55% in its second round, while Focus Features' Paranorman rounded out the top three in its initial run.
Introducing Movieline's ARRIVALS series, spotlighting breakthrough performers enjoying a bit of a "moment." Today meet British actress Carmen Ejogo, whose scene-stealing performance in Sparkle kicks off a big year in film and TV.
As much as Sparkle is about well, Sparkle (Jordin Sparks), the shy young singer who learns to come into her own in this weekend's R&B remake (not to mention Whitney Houston in what might have been her comeback), it's Carmen Ejogo's scene-stealing Sister — sultry, ambitious, and tragically doomed — who brings the film's cautionary lessons crashing home. Ejogo's offscreen story is even more intriguing: the MENSA member and one-time backing singer for Tricky (she does her own vocals in the film) got her start in the 1986 David Bowie musical Absolute Beginners and tried the leading lady route in her first crossover roles (Metro, What's the Worst That Could Happen), before earning notice in Sally Hemings: An American Scandal, HBO's Boycott, Lackawanna Blues, and last year's Away We Go.
Friday's release of the R&B musical remake Sparkle marks a bittersweet triumph for the late Whitney Houston, whose death in February preempted what many, including producing partner and friend Debra Martin Chase, insist would have been Houston’s comeback. Co-stars Jordin Sparks, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, and Carmen Ejogo remembered the iconic Grammy-winning singer, actress, and executive producer as a "vibrant" and "open" force on set who was gearing up to bounce back from her recent personal troubles.
How much has Whitney Houston's tragic death propelled the musical remake of Sparkle into the spotlight? Consider: I'm 99% sure Matt Lauer has never seen "the 1976 movie called Sparkle," but even the Today Show did a segment on the first trailer for the August release, which prompted robo-Kathie Lee Gifford to exclaim "I was flooded with emotions as I watched it." See if you feel the same after watching Houston's churchgoing mother attempt to help her daughters navigate the pitfalls of fame, Dreamgirls-style.
Despite having acted in only a handful of movies before her death on Saturday at the age of 48, Whitney Houston left a lasting legacy with the few film projects she did release during her reign as arguably the best-known female pop singer of her generation. 1995's Waiting to Exhale earned her a NAACP Image Award nomination, and 1996's The Preacher's Wife won her the award (and made her the highest-earning African American actress in Hollywood at the time); this year's Sparkle was set to be Houston's comeback after a well-documented and public period of substance abuse and personal decline. But no film is as indelibly linked to Houston's legacy as her debut in 1992's The Bodyguard, and the record-breaking soundtrack it spawned.
Before there was Dreamgirls the musical (let alone Dreamgirls the movie) there was Sparkle, the deliciously melodramatic 1976 R&B musical about the ups and downs of a trio of singing sisters from Harlem who make it big in 1950s New York. The tale was loosely, infamously based on the real-life experiences of The Supremes and lead singer Diana Ross's ascent to solo stardom, but Sparkle had a dark edge, with threats like drugs, criminals, and jealousy around every corner.