Actors’ Spotlight #72: Queen Latifah

Dana Elaine Owens (born March 18, 1970), known professionally by her stage name Queen Latifah, is an American rapper, songwriter, singer, actress, model, television producer, record producer, and talk show host. Born in Newark, New Jersey, she signed with Tommy Boy Records in 1989 and released her debut album All Hail the Queen the same year, featuring the hit single “Ladies First”. Nature of a Sista (1991) was her second and final album with Tommy Boy Records.

Latifah starred as Khadijah James on the FOX sitcom Living Single, from 1993 to 1998. Her third album Black Reign (1993), spawned the single “U.N.I.T.Y.”, which won a Grammy Award and was successful on the Billboard Hot 100. She then starred in the lead role of Set It Off (1996) and released her fourth album, Order in the Court, in 1998, with Motown Records. Latifah gained mainstream success and acclaim with her performance in the film Chicago (2002), receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Latifah released her fifth album The Dana Owens Album in 2004. In 2007 and 2009, she released two more studio albums – Trav’lin’ Light and Persona. She created the daytime talk show The Queen Latifah Show, which ran from late 2013 to early 2015 on CBS. She has appeared in a number of films, such as Bringing Down the House (2003), Taxi (2004), Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2005), Beauty Shop (2005), Last Holiday (2006), Hairspray (2007), Joyful Noise (2012), 22 Jump Street (2014) and Girls Trip (2017). Latifah received critical acclaim for her portrayal of blues singer Bessie Smith in the HBO film Bessie (2015), which she co-produced, winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie. Since 2016, she has starred as Carlotta Brown in the musical drama series Star.

She has long been considered one of hip-hop’s pioneer feminists. Queen Latifah received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006. Latifah’s work in music, film and television has earned her a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, an Academy Award nomination and sales of over two million records.

Much like with Regina Hall last week, Queen Latifah is another one of those actresses who can usually turn in a good performance even if a movie ends up being really bad in the end. She along with Mark Wahlberg has become one of the few musicians to make a successful transition to acting, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Chicago in 2002.

Speaking of Chicago, let’s begin our look at Queen Latifah’s film career by looking at 5 of her best movies:

5. Set It Off

The movie where Queen Latifah broke out as an leading actress and a great one too, a great bank robbery thriller with Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox, and Kimberly Elise and directed by F. Gary Gray.

4. Just Wright

As usual, Queen Latifah delivers a fantastic performance and Common is the best he’s ever been on screen. Paula Patton was also good in the film and Pam Grier was also great, both of these girls and Latifah are looking fine especially Pam Grier, not bad for a women in her 60s. But it’s still puzzling me on why I loved this movie so much especially with its two strikes. Maybe, it’s Queen Latifah, she starred in one of my favorite underrated movies, Last Holiday, where she was the best part of the film. Or maybe, it’s the director, Sanaa Hamri, she directed the 2006 movie Something New which is actually a good movie. Overall, this movie was a huge surprise to me.

3. Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction is a great comedy that shows that Will Ferrell can be funny without screaming or acting crazy. This is definitely one of Will Ferrell’s best movies and certainly the much more enjoyable Will Ferrell comedy released that year.

2. Chicago

This is probably the best musical movie that I’ve seen. The film’s stars Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta Jones, Renee Zellweger, John C. Reilly, & Queen Latifah are really great in the film especially when they sing. The direction by Rob Marshall is also fantastic and the set everybody’s working on is really the best part of the film.

and the #1 best Queen Latifah movie is…

Last Holiday

This is one of those movies that I like to watch after I’ve had a really bad day. Queen Latifah delivers, debatably, her best performance yet right next to her role in Chicago and LL Cool J also has a good performance as her love interest. Last Holiday is one of those films that really puts me in a good mood whenever I watch it. It’s a really fun movie that truly got overlooked.

Those are her at her best, now let’s look at Queen Latifah’s worst movies:

5. The Dilemma

A shitty comedy with no real problem that can’t be solved simply and Queen Latifah being wasted on shitty writing to make her sound more like one of the boys, it’s insulting to watch to be honest.

4. The Cookout

Not quite as offensively bad as Soul Plane but nowhere near as good as Barbershop, but it’s still a terrible, terrible movie.

3. The Ice Age sequels

After Ice Age 3, they pretty much waste any potential for good things that these movies had in the original trilogy. With every new film, it gets worse and worse and worse.

2. Taxi

Once again, Queen Latifah being wasted on a shitty, shitty movie. She tries but even she can’t save this pile of garbage.

and the #1 worst Queen Latifah movie is…

Roberto Benigni’s Pinocchio

This whole movie is….not only bad…..it’s……aids.

It is aids, this thing is the worst possible thing you could ever imagine, this movie is horrendous, this movie is terrible, this movie is garbage, this movie is just 108 minutes of torture, I can not believe that I put myself through this abortion of a movie. There is nothing about this movie that is enjoyable, there is nothing about this movie that is tolerable, there is nothing about this movie that is worth watching at all.

It is horrendous, it is abysmal, it is everything wrong with everything.

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