In honor of the king of the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA, and his triumphant jump to big screen movie director and star with The Man with the Iron Fists now in theaters, Movie Fanatic presents the top 10 musician movie moments. Many music superstars aspire to make a dent on the big screen, but few have succeeded. Here are the ten best!
10. Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Few have announced their presence as Jennifer Hudson did in Dreamgirls. Her journey from American Idol contestant to Oscar winner came largely due to her singing yes, but she also commanded the screen dramatically. They don't give Oscars for singing solely!
9. Neil Diamond, The Jazz Singer
They said it was a no-win situation, remaking the iconic The Jazz Singer that Al Jolson made famous… er, infamous. But, Neil Diamond, at the top of his game at the top of the pops, enlisted A-list talent (Laurence Olivier, who played his father) in a cross-cultural story of the melting pot that is America and how the country has produced that unique idea that is the American dream. When Diamond sings Coming to America, it is a cinematic culmination of a singer’s goals achieved. And although Saving Silverman is a fun film, that is not Diamond's most deserving Hollywood moment!
8. Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard
Not only did Houston score one of the top 10 theme songs ever with The Bodyguard, but the superstar announced to the world that she was a dramatic force to be reckoned with. We didn’t, unfortunately due to her many personal struggles, ever get to see much more from the wildly talented New Jersey native, but if The Bodyguard is any indication, that contribution to film could have been great.
7. Cher, Silkwood
Cher was nominated for an Oscar for her supporting role that showed that the ex of Sonny Bono had a life onscreen beyond her time on the Sonny and Cher Show. She was remarkably subtle in her performance as a fellow nuclear power plant worker, with Meryl Streep, who both speak up when they believe something is very wrong at their place of work.
6. Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were
Sure, Streisand (soon to be seen in The Guilt Trip) made her movie announcement of her arrival with Funny Girl. But, it was her dramatic, comedic and downright romantic role in The Way We Were that truly captured hearts and showed she is a cinematic force of nature.
5. Justin Timberlake, The Social Network
Some question his screen talents, but one performance of his that cannot be debated as so solid it almost steals the movie and that is his role as the Napster founder in The Social Network.
4. Eminem, 8 Mile
Maybe it was not a stretch for Eminem to portray a version of himself in 8 Mile, but the rapper turned in a performance that could not have been easy to cull together given the emotional panorama he had to inhabit. Em killed it as Rabbit, a talented hip hop artist whose entire life hangs on his ability to win a rap battle and get heard by a wider audience. “Cause these (expletive) damn food stamps don’t buy diapers,” he says in the iconic theme song, Lose Yourself. Well said Em... well said.
3. Frank Sinatra, From Here to Eternity or The Man with the Golden Arm
Take your pick, either film showed the crooner's impeccable abilities as a thespian. He won an Oscar for From Here to Eternity and should have won one for The Man with the Golden Arm. Think he’s Mr. Straight Laced when it comes to what Sinatra did on film? Consider his character in The Man with the Golden Arm… a heroin addict. Haven’t seen it? Run, don’t walk and get it. And no, we did enjoy him in Ocean's 11, but nowhere near the power of these two films.
2. Mark Wahlberg, Boogie Nights
We adored Wahlberg the second he popped onscreen in The Basketball Diaries. But, he of course made his true movie star announcement in Boogie Nights. As a late 1970s and early 1980s porn star, Wahlberg was powerful, sensitive and everything anyone would expect of an actor portraying Dirk Diggler. The fact that he has become a box office superstar since only further proves his talent that was shown in Paul Thomas Anderson’s San Fernando Valley-set epic.
1. Will Smith, Six Degrees of Separation
Smith went from Parents Just Don’t Understand to being the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and now, an enormous box office star with hits like Independence Day, the Men in Black series and Hancock. The movie role that showed he can have the range of a true A-list Hollywood star was in a little 1993 movie called Six Degrees of Separation that found him going head to head with some of acting’s finest including Donald Sutherland, Stockard Channing and Ian McKellen.
Honorable mentions: Tom Waits in Seven Psychopaths, David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, Queen Latifah in Chicago, Michael Jackson in The Whiz, Diana Ross in Mahogany and Mariah Carey in Precious.