In his review of Hustle and Flow in this week's New York Press, the always irascible Armond White calls Terrence Howard's opening monologue "the most flamboyant and riveting opening scene any movie actor has had since George C. Scott in Patton." Whilst we've come to expect White to speak in helium-fueled simile, he's certainly not the performance's only hyperbolic defender. EW's Owen Gleiberman says, "Terrence Howard, in the single most powerful performance I've seen this year, inhabits this character with a casual mastery that makes him a world unto himself." Meanwhile, at the film's premiere, Chris Rock and Will Smith walked down the red carpet arm-in-arm with Howard, announcing his Oscar nomination odds to anyone who would listen.

This is not a good idea. This is asking for a backlash.

The thing about Hustle and Flow that seems most obvious to me is that it's a film that's both made and saved by its performances. Howard - along with Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning, and Taraji P. Henson - take highly uneven material and elevate to an almost uniform level of watchhability. But there certainly becomes a point where it only does a disservice to the whole entireprise to single out one actor and heap the entire weight of praise on his shoulders. In general, the hype machine needs to be reigned in on this one, big time.

What do you think?