But I think he's only fully inspired now when a gifted writer or director provokes him to produce a piercing, rounded picture of an actual human being, as he did in Bill Condon's "Dreamgirls." As R&B star James Thunder Early, Murphy was funny, heartrending, dynamic - downright dizzying. I don't know why he didn't win more awards for that performance. And it was not a one-shot deal. In Karey Kirkpatrick's woefully under-seen "Imagine That," playing a driven financial analyst who doesn't know how to connect with his 7-year-old daughter Olivia (Yara Shahidi), he created a man who's always getting ahead of his emotions, or trying to catch up to them. Murphy's outbursts of hysteria became funny again, because they were so thoroughly rooted in a hidebound character stretched past his limits. And he and Shahidi played off each other beautifully.