Morning Links: Sinead O’Connor Ends Marriage, Justin Bieber Gives Friend a Mustang

● Just 18 days in, Sinead O’Connor has called off her marriage. The whole thing was "kyboshed" by her husband’s concerned family, she explains on her blog. Admitting also that "a bit of a wild ride i took us on looking for a bit of a smoke of weed for me wedding night as I don’t drink" couldn’t have helped the matter. [People]

● Justin Bieber got his childhood friend, Ryan Butler, a Mustang convertible for Christmas, which, well, as Butler tweeted, "#swag." [Huff Post]

● Martin, the Osbourne family’s 14-year-old chihuahua, passed away on Christmas day. "Devastated does not quite sum it up," Kelly tweeted. Ozzy, we imagine, might have been a little less sad to see one of the "terrorists" go. [TMZ]

● Word has it that Jennifer Hudson was offered the lead in Precious, but turned it down because she didn’t want to put back on all the weight she had worked so hard to lose. "As much as I was moved by this film, I wanted to try a role that had nothing whatsoever to do with my weight," she says. [THR]

● Be warned that the People magazine cover declaring Taylor Lautner is "Out & Proud," that’s currently making the internet rounds is fake, "absolutely fake," according to a People representative. [Gossip Cop]

● Hard-rocking Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Sickles gave Lana Del Rey’s "Video Games" a "very tonally pleasing, and not at all ironic or funny" spin and it’s, well, maybe you should decide for yourself. [P4K]

Gabourey Sidibe’s Prospects Surge After Oscar Loss

Last night, Gabourey Sidibe lost the Oscar for Best Actress to Sandra Bullock for her work in Miss Congeniality 3: When Orphans Strike. And although Sidibe’s name was clearly etched all over that $500 gold man, losing the Oscar for Best Actress is actually the best thing that could’ve happened to Sidibe. Her post-Precious prospects were always tenuous. Such territory tends to be so for any niche performer after Oscar season blows over and all we’re left with is the agonizing interim during which these sort of movies are chucked out to fill up studio coffers gone empty from a half-year of Oscar campaigning. Hollywood has imagined and reveled in someone like Sidibe in a critical context. But now they have to imagine her in a commercial context–the type which governs the box office nine or so months out of the year.

Essentially, an Oscar win for Sidibe last night would’ve been a double-edged slab of gold. On one hand, the Academy would’ve been saying, “Well done, Gaby. Your performance was the best, even more so than Meryl’s or Helen’s,” and on the other they’d be saying, “What’s that, Gaby? Oh no, you can’t do comedy! You do tortured and abused so well!” This award would’ve been Hollywood’s way of turning Sidibe–much to the disappointment of fans and spectators everywhere–into facsimiles of the single character that transformed her into such a breakout, but this time to make easy money.

Unlike Precious co-star Mo’Nique–whose cult-like status makes the Oscar something of a trinket to her, if anything–Sidibe’s newcomer status is not so unfamiliar. Performers like Whale Rider‘s Keisha Castle-Hughes and Maria Full of Grace‘s Catalina Sandino Moreno are cautionary tales for young breakouts who win Oscars for nichey roles. Mostly that, at their station in life, said performers can’t expect a flood of success. Sandino had to wait six years to join the Twilight franchise, which becomes her first commercial vehicle when Eclipse is released later this year.

Hollywood’s desire to pigeonhole Sidibe into tragic roles makes little sense. Which is why this loss goes a long way towards establishing Sidibe’s street cred without relegating her to the character actress class. Her bubbly confidence, the type which helped her deliver one of last night’s most memorable red carpet quips like “If fashion was porn, this dress would be the money shot,” goes a long way to that end too.

It also makes sense then that for future projects, Sidibe hasn’t been quiet about wanting to do projects that strike a balance between comedy and drama. Ideally, those would include a guest starring turn on ABC’s Modern Family and most naturally, anything by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Thankfully, “Oscar nominee” is a résumé booster that easily could will such projects into existence.

Mariah Carey Makes ‘Precious’ Plight All About Herself

Yesterday, Gabourey Sidibe explained to us how she has always been awesome and we were all like, “Duh, girl! Wanna get some drinks later?” And that was that. Today, we learn about a diva whose life has seen its own fair share of ups and downs. A diva who may or may not has been known to shake her fist defiantly at the sky and cry, “Why is my life like an oversalted pork rind?” A diva, who has, post-Precious, found a wellspring of confidence, a new lust for life. Mariah Carey has discovered that for a boost of morale, she needs to put down her concealer and start getting real. With herself and with the world.

(‘DiggThis’) She tells Contactmusic, “I think it was crucial to dress down [for Precious]. It was tough because making music videos is so different with the costumes, the angles, the lighting, stuff like that. In Precious, we sat in a fluorescent dentist’s office and it was the worst-lit scene of the movie. The over-lighting emphasises the dark stuff under your eyes.” Still doesn’t explain that barely-there ‘stache, though.

But at least her turn as a dogged-looking social worker makes her feel better about herself as a pop star: “I guess now I’ll feel better about myself when I’m dressed normally at my house and walk past a mirror and see myself. I’ll be like, well I’ve looked worse.” Uncertain is the subtle dig at social workers everywhere subject to such harsh lights, lacking luxuries like L’Oreal under-eye creams.

The tenderest sticking point of how Carey identifies with the film and makes the heart-rending story of Precious all about herself: “The first relationship I was in, without realizing it at the time, was abusive emotionally. That is in the past, but that helped me get to a place where I could grow and use that stuff in my work.” Ah, yes, so that’s what your hit single, “H.A.T.E.U.”, performed live on Letterman below, is about, isn’t it?

Gabourey Sidibe Confirms Our Suspicions: “I’ve Always Been Awesome”

Of all the young things to make it big in Hollywood in the last six or so months, we couldn’t be happier with the whirlwind of success of Precious star Gabourey Sidibe. Plucky, brilliant, and effervescent, Sidibe has a charm that belies the downtroddenness of her on-screen alter-ego. We already knew this when she sat down with BlackBook last November, on the eve of the film’s release. However, in spite of the film’s runaway success three months later, Sidibe still remains awesome as ever. A recent Guardian profile of the actress finds Sidibe’s candor and confidence so refreshing that you can’t help but tut-tut the false pretenses of other young stars.

(‘DiggThis’)On understanding the character of Precious Jones better than director Lee Daniels:

I don’t think Lee got Precious at the start…he assumed what she was like. He thought bigger girls were dumb. Is he ever wrong! Hell, yeah. I’m a girl–so I knew what Precious was like a little bit better than [Daniels]. Plus, he’s from Philadelphia and I’m from Harlem, so I brought New York to this character.

On the myth of a certain four-letter word:

Just because our president is black doesn’t mean our struggle stops. The Obama family is something for us to aspire to, but a lot of us aren’t going to get there. Precious’s story is a fiction but it’s also a truth. There are lots of Preciouses out there and not all of them are as lucky as her. She has a light of hope in her that we see in the film even when she’s in the heart of darkness. Others may not be so lucky. But who knows if she’s going to get out of her world. We hope she will, though, don’t we?

Many have wondered if there’s a place for Sidibe in Hollywood. And before Precious started its awards sweep, that was looking shaky, but Sidibe’s fortunes are looking sunny, especially with Yelling to the Sky, in which she stars opposite Don Cheadle. On exploring new roles:

This time, I get to make out with a boy. I know that because I wrote it into the script.

And finally, on awesomeness:

The press paints the picture that I got this role and now I’m awesome. But the truth is that I’ve been awesome and then I got this role.

The New Exception to The Rule: Gabourey Sidibe

When news surfaced that she had won two prizes for her starring role in Lee Daniels’ Precious, Gabourey Sidibe reacted as one might expect of a woman in her position. “I changed my Facebook status,” says the 26-year-old actress while sipping a rum cocktail at Bistro Milano in midtown Manhattan. “I can literally tell people I’m an award-winning actress,” she says, with a violent, characteristic burst of snort-punctuated laughter. “And that’s pretty bomb.”

Adapted from Sapphire’s 1996 debut novel Push, Precious is the story of an obese, impoverished and illiterate teenager in 1980s Harlem who has been twice impregnated by her drug-addicted, HIV-positive father, and is humiliated on a daily basis by her abusive mother, played with feral intensity by Mo’Nique. “I’m not a victim of incest, so I had to learn to play Precious through empathy. Growing up, I lived in some pretty rough neighborhoods, but that’s where the overlap ends,” says the charismatic Sidibe, whose father is a cab driver, and who was raised by her musician mother in Brooklyn and Harlem.

“It’s always considered a courageous move to get all ugly, Charlize Theron-style,” she says of her transformation into a sweaty, sloppy girl whose chin and cheeks, in one scene, are slathered in chicken grease. “But it’s like, so what that I’m not wearing makeup? I wasn’t wearing makeup when I decided I was beautiful in the first place. You want to know the real me? Every picture I take and every photo shoot I do is revenge for every boy who didn’t want to hold my hand, for every girl who knew she was so much prettier than me, and for everyone who told me I wouldn’t be worth anything until I lost weight.” In light of the buzz that surrounds her performance, I tell her that could be her Oscar acceptance speech. Instead of laughing, she looks down at her drink and smiles.

Photography by Tim Palen. Hair by Giannandrea @ The wall Group. Makeup by Christian McCulloch @ Tim Howard. Production by Ryan Wickers.

‘Precious’ to ‘Basterds’: Sinister Villains to Make Mark This Oscar Season

Oh, look. Awards! Bestowed by a tight-knit coterie of L.A.-based film critics! And, lo! More awards! This time, conferred by some folks in Boston. A common thread among the breakout winners? A dastardly streak that makes Heath Ledger’s Joker seem warm and cuddly. This awards season, it pays to be a ruthless villain. A few obvious and unlikely picks after the break.

Mo’Nique. Originally, there was some speculation about whether the comedienne was being too precious about where she chose to hawk Precious. But her searing, hairy armpit performance as mortifying matriarch Mary was enough to silence such concerns, and she’s already started racking up honors.

• Alan Rickman. Probably afflicted with the same kind of curse that plagued Lord of the Rings until its last installment scooped up a healthy lot of major awards, Harry Potter may finally be an Oscar candidate. The latest film’s overwhelmingly positive reviews, for Rickman as the cruel Severus Snape in particular, and the fact that Oscar viewership spikes whenever blockbuster movies end up nominated, makes a nod for Rickman more likely than ever before.

• The Manhattan Media Complex. Sure, the implosion of print media means that not many New York based magazines are taking awards home, but that doesn’t mean R.J. Cutler’s The September Issue can’t. Issue, about the making of one installment of Vogue, is an excellent documentary, though its 2009 release date made it work best as a cruel anachronism, or unintentional dark comedy, reminding us of insanely flush times of a not-so-distant-era before the meltdown. Putting Anna Wintour at the heart of the film is an excellent way to win Oscar sympathies–voters are suckers for morally complex protagonists.

Christoph Waltz. Waltz’s Colonel Landa from Inglourious Basterds was the exact opposite of Mo’Nique’s Mary. He was slow-burning to start, but when he pulled the trigger, he proved to be just as explosive. Even more dastardly, he’s a Nazi. Hollywood reverse-likes those.

Box Office Haul: ‘2012’ Wins, ‘Precious’ Surges 200%, ‘This Is It’ Sinks

Oh, hello! You’re still there? Excellent. Here’s your end-of-the-weekend, doused-in-the-mists-of-Ida box office round-up. It’s fairly predictable, with the most predictable development reflecting our fickle whims as American pop consumers. Meaning that with the Michael Jackson documentary This Is It sliding 60%, perhaps it’s time for all the king’s men to start pointing fingers at each other, lobbing jagged accusations like “You’re not faithful enough, I loved Michael more!” as they tear each other to shreds, devolving into pagan beasts of burden. On the sunnier side of things, Precious enjoys growth of about 225% this week, mostly because of a wider release. Also, 2012 made like a kajillion dollars and ranked at #1, so everyone will be talking about that tomorrow.

Well until Lady Gaga invariably appears on a talk show wearing a tankini fashioned out of crushed PBR cans and we start fixating on that instead. So that’s the bad, the good, and the best. The confusing, then? How Couples Retreat stays within the Top 10. Seriously, who keeps going back to see Vince Vaughn impersonate a potato? A full breakdown of the Top 10 (even more thorough recap here) plus some extras follow.

1. 2012 ($65 million) 2. A Christmas Carol ($22 million) 3. The Men Who Stare at Goats ($6.2 million) 4. Precious ($6.1 million) 5. This Is It ($5.1 million) 6. The Fourth Kind ($4.7 million) 7. Couples Retreat ($4.25 million) 8. Paranormal Activity ($4.2 million) 9. Law Abiding Citizen ($3.9 million) 10. The Box ($3.2 million)

Falling out of the Top 10: Astro Boy ($1.65 million) Triple-digit growth: Boondock Saints II ($1 million, +136%) and Halloween II ($52,000, +214%) Still hanging on: Amelia ($925,000) and The September Issue ($33,200)

Box Office Haul: ‘Precious’ Flies, ‘Astro Boy’ Dies

With one of Oscar’s biggest players entering the box office ring this past weekend, the most resounding breakthrough rumbled just outside the top ten. The usual brawlers were there: that Michael Jackson documentary, a fantasy movie about a child and some monsters, some film about goats and George Clooney, and of course Disney’s latest attempt to reinvent Charles Dickinson, despite Vanessa Williams’ success with that initiative years ago. While Disney’s A Christmas Carol leads the pack on numbers alone, the $200 million production budget saw only a seventh of that money trickle back with about $31 million opening sales. Many are terming the film a “flop” even though there’s still over a month until Christmas. Precious is enjoying the opposite fate.

Opening only to limited release this weekend (four theaters throughout Manhattan, 18 nationwide), the Lee Daniels-directed drama broke some record as it grossed $1.8 million. More impressive: the film landed just outside the weekend’s top ten highest-grossing films. It looks set to overtake at least half of its competition if its current momentum keeps up. Speaking of momentum, Astro Boy is losing it fast, only three weeks into its theatrical release. Additionally, a nation of moviegoers deemed Michael Moore more relevant than Anna Wintour. A recap of the Top 10 (plus a few more) highest grossing films and their weekend hauls:

1. A Christmas Carol ($31 million) 2. This Is It ($14 million) 3. The Men Who Stare At Goats ($13.3 million) 4. The Fourth Kind ($12.5 million) 5. Paranormal Activity ($8.6 million) 6. The Box ($7.9 million) 7. Couples Retreat ($6.4 million) 8. Law Abiding Citizen ($6.2 million) 9. Where the Wild Things Are ($4.2 million) 10. Astro Boy ($2.6 million) 13. Precious ($1.8 million)

Below the Top 20: Inglourious Basterds ($195,000), Capitalism: A Love Story ($162,000), New York, I Love You ($140,000), 9 ($90,500), and The September Issue ($44,500)

Is ‘Precious’ Mo’Nique Sabotaging Her Career?

Oh what a world! When I first heard that Mo’Nique had started to form something of a diva complex, expecting pay-outs when asked to represent Precious, I balked and assumed that it was just weedy grapevines sewn by spurned extras from The Parkers who had a grudge to settle. But then similar stories continued cropping up. At the beginning of this month, the comedienne’s new publicist quit after two weeks on the job. Surely she would be humble in her demands of a media that was simply waiting on the right moment to herald her as Oscar’s Last Hope.

Especially after having crafted a career of versatility that openly flouts critical expectations — in addition to supporting bits on Ugly Betty and Nip/Tuck, she starred in the 2005 Keira Knightley bomb Domino and looks none worse for the wear.

Sadly, no! Apparently, a source claims, “Mo’Nique said she signed on to do this film for a small amount of money. She said she didn’t care about ‘no Oscar’ — all that mattered was ‘those Benjamins!’ Because Oprah and Tyler Perry are backing the film, she feels as though there should be a budget to pay for her promotional duties.” Class!

After a lot of hoop-jumping, I decided to track down someone on the inside to see if Mo’Nique would open up, if not about Precious, then about her new late night talk show and other projects in the pipeline. Because just like how Christiane Amanpour’s passion lies in covering turmoil in the Middle East, mine lies in chatting with thespians who act in films like Phat Girlz. Instead I got a curt response to the effect of:

Hello Rohin,

Thanks for your interest in Mo’Nique, but unfortunately, there’s no interest in your publication. Thanks.

Burn! A follow-up from her camp revealed that Mo’Nique, who has landed nearly every Essence cover since time immemorial, was gunning for a cover feature, but unwilling to compromise. To which, I would’ve responded, “If I could, I would! And shot by Hedi Slimane, too!” But I was too busy collecting the detritus of my shattered dreams and crushed hopes to do so. I was also too busy skimming this remarkably incisive feature on the flick over at the Times.