Saturday, January 16, 2010

Supporting Actress Blogathon: Mo'Nique as "Mary Jones" in Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire

Do you think that James Cameron will be voting for Mo'Nique when his Academy Award ballot arrives in the mail some time in February? Given the way things have gone so far during this awards season I think it's a fair bet to say that everybody and their pet budgerigar will be ticking the box next to Mo'Nique's grammatically-bonkers name. Sure, he'll be making sure his own Avatar gets as many votes as possible, but perhaps upon seeing her name there he will have fond memories of one of his own creations.

Why do I bring up James Cameron though? Well, he's always loved a tough and feisty woman, but Mary Jones is far from Ripley or Sarah Connor although the casting of niche comedian Mo'Nique was an inspired piece of casting much like Cameron is also a fan of. No, I suspect Cameron will be picking Mo'Nique as his winner for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire because Mary Jones is the motherly reincarnation of one of his most famous characters: The T-1000 as portrayed by Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day is set in 1995 and follows the exploits of John Connor as he goes on the run from the evil time-jumping T-1000 Terminator. I think it's fair to say that before he was sent from the future to kill John Connor he was sent to 1987 Harlem in New York City and morphed into the shape of Mo'Nique's Mary Jones in order to reek havoc and devastation on the life of Clareece "Precious" Jones, her "daughter". If 1995 taught us nothing it's that the T-1000 is not beyond taking the form of a protagonist's loved ones in order to lure them into its deadly trap. Perhaps there is a hidden sequel to come out of Precious that reveals Clareece's children, Abdul and "Mongo", as being vital instruments in the future resistance against the Cyberdyne robots.

The characters of Mary Jones and the T-1000 share a lot in common. Both are hardwired to do anything in their ability to make life hell on Earth for their chosen victims. The T-1000 is hardwired to do so in an obviously more literal way with implanted chips and data. Mary, on the other hand, is hardwired in an altogether different way. Having succumbed to the mental illness that has riddled her brain, she acts out her problems on the only being less unfortunate than she.

Loving mothers one minute, evil incarnate the next.

Both characters pursue their targets with pinpoint precision. Knowing exactly what to do in order to rattle their cages. Whether it be disguising themselves as an honourable policeman or to denigrate, put down and insult. "Real women sacrifice!" So do T-1000s getting continuously chopped up, shattered and losing body parts. Don't tell me getting your head nearly shot off its stump doesn't hurt.

However, the real similarity between the two comes in each film's climax. In Terminator 2, Patrick's T-1000 ends up in a vat of molten steel and we see him/her/it go through a catalogue of all of their previous incarnations before returning to its original form. In this case, a silvery goo.

Mo'Nique as Mary does the exact same thing, except that unlike the T-1000 she doesn't do it with millions of dollars of pioneering visual effects, but instead does it with the sheer force of her acting. In the film's big final sequence, the scene that would single-handedly win any actor, with even a smidgen of talent, an Oscar, Mo'Nique goes through all of Mary's previous alter egos - the kind and caring mother, the confused little girl, the sick woman, the oblivious one - before finally ending up at her true original form, a cold and heartless, tyrannical monster.

Not to take anything away from the fine lead performance of Gabourey Sidebe and fellow supporting act Mariah Carey in this very scene, but Mo'Nique owns it and every other that she comes into contact with. It may seem like a cliche to choose someone such as Mo'Nique for the Supporting Actress Blogathon since she isn't exactly starved for attention these days - and I did consider the likes of Rosamund Pike (An Education) and Hanna Mangan-Lawrence (Lucky Country) - but due to various reasons chose otherwise. Mo'Nique is the performance of this category and I feel that no matter how many articles and blogs praise her from here to kingdom come, nothing will quite be able to truly explain just how incredibly good she is.

When Mo'Nique waltzes up on that stage to collect her Academy Award in early March I will be cheering her on because for, perhaps, one of the very few times in recent memory it really is all about the performance. Sure, Mo'Nique has hardly made the most scintillating cinema in the past (including Phat Girlz and even Shadowboxer from the director of Precious, Lee Daniels), but when someone gives the kind of Earth-shattering performance that Mo'Nique has done there's no way you can deny her. Here's to the best supporting actress of 2009, Mo'Nique nee Monique Imes.

To read the rest head on over to StinkyLulu, Supporting Actress HQ.


Andrew K. said...

Interesting comparison. This is a nice writeup and that's a nice perspective on her final scene there.Still though, I would not be voiting for Mo'Nique.

Abhi said...

Wow, great post. Great comparison between the T-1000 and Mary. And I loved the screenshots you picked.

Anonymous said...

She will definitely win Best Supporting Actress as sure as Christoph Waltz will win Bets Supporting Actor. These two are shoe-ins!

Bryan said...

Great write-up! That final scene tears the house down.

Where did you find those great stills?

Glenn Dunks said...

I just found them through Google.

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