Lee Daniel's The Butler is the remarkable story inspired by the life of Eugene Allen. He was an African-American who escaped a life of working in the cotton fields as a boy to becoming a butler who worked in the white house for nearly thirty years. While serving under eight presidents, he experienced firsthand some of the most historical moments in the twentieth century and possibly influenced some of the most important American Civil Rights decisions ever made.
While the story didn't come right out of the history books, it's one of the best representations of how difficult times must have been during the battle for civil rights that I've ever seen. It has a unique perspective with the butler essentially being a fly on the wall during some of Americas darkest and brightest moments. Regardless of how much of the story actually occurred, I found it to be absolutely fascinating and it covered the gamut of emotions. At times the story is tragic and utterly heartbreaking, but at other times it's inspiring and even laugh out loud funny. Even during the slow moments, I was never bored and it never seemed to drag.
This movie has an all-star cast with Forrest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Terrance Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., John Cusack, James Marsden, Robin Williams, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, and Jane Fonda.
I was surprised by some of the casting. I never would've thought of John Cusack for Nixon or Alan Rickman for Regan, but I was impressed with all of the performances across the board. It was nice seeing Cuba Gooding Jr. back in a good movie and I even thought Lenny Kravits did a good job. David Oyelowo was outstanding as the son of the butler who went from being a "Freedom Rider" to a "Black Panther", but the true gems of this movie were Oprah Winfrey and Forrest Whitaker.
For someone as famous as Oprah to fall into a role and completely transform into someone entirely different from herself was incredible. It's probably a little premature to say this, but I'll be shocked if she doesn't score an Academy Award nomination and surprised if she doesn't win. Her performance just goes to show she hasn't lost her skills that earned her an Academy Award for acting back in 1986.
The same goes for Forrest Whitaker, who won his first Academy Award in 2007. He was wonderful in this film. I loved every minute he was on the screen. He played this role so beautifully. It's nearly impossible to picture anyone else as the butler and he's sure to get a nomination come Oscar time.
Needless to say, I loved this movie. It's not only the best movie of the year so far, it may just be one of the best movies I've ever seen. Put your politics aside and rush out to see this movie. It provides a profound view of an important time of American history. The story is marvelous and the performances are wonderful! This is the stuff great movies are made of and being this year's first Best Picture contender, it's an absolute must-see!!!