LOS ANGELES -- Beyoncé will be the halftime performer at next year's Super Bowl, we learned this week when the AP broke the news. This got me thinking about the multitalented multi-hyphenate's movie performances. The R&B superstar has appeared in a lot of films over the past decade, with some decidedly high-profile roles. And while she shouldn't quit her day job just yet, she does have a radiant screen presence.
So here's a ranking of Beyonce's film work -- although her greatest role of all may be that of the now-defunct Sasha Fierce persona she created to give herself the confidence to be wild and sexy onstage.
• "Fade to Black" (2004): Admittedly, this choice is a bit of a cheat. Beyoncé wasn't exactly acting here, per se. This was the documentary that captured the 2003 Madison Square Garden concert that was supposedly Jay-Z's last. By the time the film came out, he'd already "unretired" -- as if he'd ever actually retired in the first place. Beyoncé, his then-covert love interest who since has become his wife and the mother of his child, absolutely tore it up here, upstaging Jay-Z himself with "Crazy in Love." In black sequins and bright yellow pumps, she was a postmillennial Ikette, all flying hair and grinding hips.
• "Austin Powers in Goldmember" (2002): In a spoof of the attitudinal blaxploitation movie heroine, Beyoncé played Foxxy Cleopatra, a whole lotta woman. This basically called upon her to say things like: "I'm Foxxy Cleopatra, and I'm a whole lotta woman!" But in her first big-screen role, she did look the part in the giant `fro and flashy, form-fitting get-ups of the era. In this tired third installment in the franchise, Austin Powers (Mike Myers) time-traveled to 1975 to rescue his dad (Michael Caine). As the undercover spy who tags along on the slapsticky mission -- and a former flame of Austin's, naturally -- Beyoncé seemed to be having a blast.
• "Cadillac Records" (2008): Beyoncé faced the daunting task of playing Etta James, a role that would impact her so deeply, it would find its way into the songs on her "I Am ... Sasha Fierce" album. As the tormented, drug-addicted vocal powerhouse, Beyoncé packed on the padding and donned a wig to make her look older, less beautiful. From the second she entered the film as the tempestuous James, you wanted to see her sing her signature hit "At Last," and that was about it. In telling the story of Chicago-based Chess Records, the label that launched so many important artists during the 1950s and `60s, the music was better than the movie itself.
• "Dreamgirls" (2006): Beyoncé played the Diana Ross-esque lead singer of a `60s singing trio in this movie based on the 1981 Broadway musical. As an actress ... well, she sure did look great. Beyoncé didn't seem ready at this point to dig deep for the big, dramatic moments in which she found herself, and hadn't really improved by the time she made "Cadillac Records." Co-star Jennifer Hudson stole the entire movie away from her and went on to win the Academy Award for best supporting actress. But Beyoncé was the main beneficiary of costume designer Sharen Davis' infinite resourcefulness; the big-earring-and-bell-bottom phase was fun, and even the unfortunate foray into a black "Cleopatra" movie was a hoot.
• "Obsessed" (2009): The catfight between Beyoncé and Ali Larter sent this domestic thriller scratching and clawing its way to the top of the box office, where it debuted at No. 1 with nearly $29 million. And the knockdown, drag-out brawl between these two gorgeous women is probably the only thing anyone will remember about this movie afterward. Beyoncé played the happily married wife and mother who would do whatever it took to keep her husband (Idris Elba) from succumbing to the seductive charms of a sexy new temp in his office (Larter). Beyoncé struck one note throughout ... but it was fierce.