I could just kick myself in the head for not doing this last month during Black History Month. First, I would have to figure out how it would be physically possible to kick myself in the head. But seriously, this would have been the perfect selection for February. It was bad enough that I have never covered it before as a Vault Pick so how more appropriate than to have a biopic highlighted during that month? At any rate, I'm doing it now so this will have to do.
Is there anyone out there that doesn't know that "Ray" is about the life of Ray Charles and that Jamie Foxx is portraying the legend? Only if they've been living under that Geico rock for the past several years. Although I'm sure there are still some folks out there that haven't gotten around to watching this one yet. For anyone that falls in that category, they are missing one of the best biopics ever. All thanks to Foxx's incredible performance.
I can still remember when "Ray" was just in the works and the word was out that comedian Jamie Foxx would be playing him. The dramatic aspect seemed like a little stretch to all of us then. Foxx was undoubtedly an amazing comic but how could he do playing a legend? We'll get to that. For now, I was referring to Foxx's skill that made him a natural to play the part: His ability to both sing and play the piano.
Foxx would occasionally bust out with a vocal performance at the end of the show on "In Living Color" back in the day. That's when when first caught a glimpse of what he could do. And unlike some comedians that do it jokingly and think they can really do something, he was actually VERY talented with his. So much so that he could. That's why it wasn't a stretch to see him playing a musician on screen. He was one of the few folks who do it without having to have someone else do the music part.
But there was still the whole issue with the acting. Could someone renown for his hilarious comedy be convincing as an R&B legend? More than any of us could have ever imagined. Foxx was more like Ray Charles than Ray Charles was. He had down his look, the style, his mannerisms and especially his music. He did it so well that he introduced Ray's music to a new generation of folks who never fully appreciated him before.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the supporting roles of "Ray" that contributed to its greatness. Kerry Washington easily put her name on the map with her portrayal as Ray's wife. She proved that she was more than just another pretty face. Clifton Powell stepped out of typecast of a tough guy role to give us a kinder and gentler character we're not used to seeing from him. But who really surpised me was Curtist Armstong as Ahmet Ertegun. Who knew Booger from "Revenge of the Nerds" had that in him?
There was no question that Jamie Foxx deserved that Oscar for this performance. It was more than just how he transformed himself into Ray for "Ray". It was how he was the integral cog in this masterpiece that made a memorable film for years to come. To call it one of the best biopics ever wouldn't do it justice. It was an overall great movie no matter how you try to categorize it.