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Divas Do Hollywood: We Grade Their Acting

Screen Gems

Madonna and Whitney to Gwen and Britney... Nearly every pop queen has packed up their diva ways and taken them to the big screen. 

The results have been mixed; for every Mariah Carey in "Precious," there's a Mariah Carey in "Glitter," and for every J. Hudson in "Dreamgirls," there's a J. Simpson in "Employee of the Month." 

With veteran screen diva Cher teaching acting newcomer Christina Aguilera the tricks of crossing over in "Burlesque," here's a rundown of the most memorable instances of divas gone Hollywood. 

Mariah Carey

Everett Collection

Movies: "Glitter" (2001), "Precious" (2009)

When she played a gorgeous pop diva in "Glitter" ... not so much. But when she went un-glam to play social worker Ms. Weiss in "Precious," Carey proved she had some acting skills. To be fair, not even Meryl Streep could have made "Glitter" sparkle, and plenty of actresses have shined only when they got a shot at quality material.

Rating: C


Screen Gems

Movies: "Austin Powers in Goldmember" (2002), "The Fighting Temptations" (2003), "The Pink Panther" (2005), "Dreamgirls" (2006), "Cadillac Records" (2008), "Obsessed" (2009)

Beyonce, on the other hand, may want to stick to musical-themed roles. She may not have won the big awards for "Dreamgirls" or for portraying legend Etta James in "Cadillac Records," but awards nods can be a bad thin ... as in the Worst Actress Razzie nomination she earned for "Obsessed," a reverse sexual harassment thriller which one critic called nothing more than an excuse for a Beyonce/Ali Larter catfight. Meow.

Rating: B-

Britney Spears


Movies: "Crossroads" (2002)

She was playing an aspiring singer, she was surrounded by talent like Dan Akroyd, Kim Cattrall, Justin Long and Taryn Manning and the teenybopper storyline revolved around three BFFs on a road trip, yet surprisingly, Britney's first major big-screen role was a big dull dud. Even more surprisingly: the mess, a commercial and critical flop, was written by Shonda Rhimes. Yes, that Shonda Rhimes.

Rating: C-

Gwen Stefani

Everett Collection

Movies: "The Aviator" (2004)

Her onscreen time was relatively brief, but Stefani's turn as Hollywood legend Jean Harlow was memorable in the Martin Scorsese-directed Howard Hughes biopic. Stefani's wide-eyed look and retro-inspired style, aided by a top-notch hair and make up crew, of course, led to an impeccably accurate portrayal of Harlow, whose star-making role came courtesy of Hughes and his 1930 hit "Hell's Angels."

Rating: B

Jessica Simpson

Warner Bros.

Movies: "The Dukes of Hazzard" (2005), "Employee of the Month" (2006)

Whatever else happened onscreen -- including a nominee for worst line ever when her Daisy Duke tells a cop, "I think something bounced up into my undercarriage" -- Simpson had made sure she filled out her denim Daisy Dukes nice and properly, so all was mostly forgiven for that one. As for her follow up, with Dane Cook, in "Employee of the Month," there's too much bad acting to forgive, but we sure do want to forget it.

Rating: D-

Alicia Keys


Movies: "Smokin' Aces" (2006), "The Nanny Diaries" (2007), "The Secret Life of Bees" (2008)

R&B/pop diva Keys brought her laidback cool to the role of Georgia Sykes, the hitwoman who, with partner Sharice Watters (Taraji P. Henson), is hired to off Vegas magician and wannabe gangster Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven). Her subsequent roles, in "The Nanny Dairies" and "The Secret Life of Bees," were much lower key, but "Aces" has us hopin' for more guntotin', action-packed performances from the new mama.

Rating: C+

Mary J. Blige


Movies: "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" (2009)

Her role as singing bartender Tanya, BFF of Taraji P. Henson's April, in Tyler Perry's "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," was enough to have us excited for her first major starring role, playing legendary jazz singer and pianist Nina Simone in the 2012 biopic "Nina."

Rating: B+


Weinstein Co.

Movies: "Grindhouse: Planet Terror" (2007), "Nine" (2009)

Who wouldn't have fun playing Tammy (the lesbian lover of Marley Shelton's married anesthesiologist Dakota), who gets attacked and has her brains eaten by zombies while trying to reunite with Dakota? Not Fergie, whose performance in the Robert Rodriguez horror flick was every bit as convincing as her big song-and-dance number in "Nine."

Rating: B

Jennifer Hudson


Movies: "Dreamgirls" (2006), "Sex and the City" (2008), "The Secret Life of Bees" (2008)

Oscar and Golden Globe wins for Hudson's performance as Effie White not only surprised viewers who'd watched her awkwardly sing her way to a seventh-place finish on the third season of "American Idol," but also forced snarky "AI" judge Simon Cowell to admit he'd underestimated the skills and star potential of the former reality TV star.

Rating: A

Taylor Swift

New Line

Movies: "Valentine's Day" (2010)

She won the Teen Choice Award for Breakout Female, but it's tough to gauge whether she was acting -- playing giggly high schooler Felicia, who's enjoying puppy love and teddy bear gifts from boyfriend Willy (Taylor Lautner) -- or whether she was just living out on screen the crushes she and boy Taylor allegedly (if her new songs are being interpreted correctly) lived out in real life.

Rating: C

Macy Gray


Movies: "Domino" (2005), "Idlewild" (2006), "For Colored Girls" (2010)

If you need a quirky character actress, quirky character Gray may just be your woman. She's memorably played half of a fake I.D.-making set of twins ("Domino"), a drunken nightclub diva named Taffy (in "Idlewild") and, in "For Colored Girls," a creepy back-alley abortionist who "will make you rethink ever having unsafe sex," according to Huffington Post reviewer Jenee Darden.

Rating: B

Janet Jackson


Movies: "Poetic Justice" (1993), "Nutty Professor II" (2000),"Why Did I Get Married?" (2007), "For Colored Girls" (2010)

Those of us who remember her in "Good Times" and as Willis' girlfriend on "Diff'rent Strokes" weren't so surprised to see her unfurl her acting talents on the big screen after her mega-successful pop star career took hold. As for critical response to those roles, she did receive Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for "Poetic Justice" ... in the best original song categories; she also won a Razzie Award for Worst New Star for the flick. Her more recent, dramatic roles -- as successful women whose personal and professional lives don't mesh -- in Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married?" flicks and "For Colored Girls," have won her far more positive reviews.

Rating: A-

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