Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

STARRING Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey
WRITTEN BY Geoffrey Fletcher

Only the third film ever to win both the Grand Jury and Audience prizes at Sundance, Precious follows an obese Harlem teenager (newcomer Gabourey Sidibe) who struggles with illiteracy, a second unwanted pregnancy, and a dangerous home life. Since January, comedian Mo’Nique has been attracting Oscar talk for her vicious turn as the girl’s volatile mother, a performance she says she based on her own childhood in Baltimore. ”[Director] Lee Daniels said, ‘I need Mary Jones to be a monster,”’ recalls Mo’Nique. ”My oldest brother was a monster to me. So when he said ‘Action,’ it was like, ‘I need to remember who that monster was.”’

Another monster turn comes from Mariah Carey, who’s virtually unrecognizable as a dowdy social worker. How dowdy? ”I said, ‘I don’t want you to wear any makeup, and we’re going to dye your hair and put a fake nose on you,”’ says Daniels, adding that the pop star’s wardrobe was also less than glam. ”Her hands were shaking in the freakin’ rayon — it was funny.”