One of the big mysteries of this awards pre-season will be whether or not Lee Daniels latest effort, The Butler, will be an Oscar player or not. Following his Academy Award nominated film, Precious, in 2009, many were excited to see what he would do next. Unfortunately, that was The Paperboy. But there are very few directors without an asterisk somewhere in their filmography (Spielberg’s The Terminal anyone?), so it would be foolish to think Daniels couldn’t rebound with The Butler. Especially with The Weinsteins distributing the film.
The Butler tells the story of Eugene Allen (played by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker), a White House butler who served eight Presidents over three decades, while at the same time the film follows the dramatic changes in our society during that period (most notably the Civil Rights movement). From the powerful first trailer, it looks like The Butler could almost be Forrest Gump meets The Color Purple, which is something the Academy could likely eat up. Daniels also co-wrote the film, which stars Whitaker, Robin Williams, John Cusack, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, James Marsden, Melissa Leo, Alan Rickman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Liev Schreiber, Jane Fonda, Minka Kelly, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, and David Oyelowo.
As far as Oscar predictions go, the sky seems the limit this far out, but I, for one, have moved Oprah Winfrey into my five for Supporting Actress. She’s kind of powerful and has a lot of friends, and if somewhat deserving, could possibly be our frontrunner in that category.
The Buler hits theatres on October 18.