Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sizing up the competition

With the expressed purpose of judging Oprah's performance, I invited my friend Kristan to join me for a viewing of Lee Daniels' The Butler last night.  After last week's news of the possibility of Meryl going supporting for August: Osage County, I figured I better start seeing some films, considering I'm going to have to now check out both lead and supporting contenders for Best Actress.  I still think it's up in the air which category Meryl will be placed in eventually.  Toronto may help give us a better indication in a couple weeks.

So, The Butler.  It was better than I had expected, frankly.  I don't want to get into too much of a full review of the the film, but suffice it to say I was entertained.  More of the story focused on the Civil Rights Movement than I had anticipated, which was a small, albeit welcomed surprise.  Not that I really learned much or was challenged by the makers of the film to ponder many deep questions, but it was an admirable homage to the heroes of the time.  

Winfrey was in quite a bit of this film.  I can see how one could argue the role being lead, but supporting is probably a more fitting category. Her performance overall for me was...fine.  I don't know how much acting training she has but we know she's only done three films.  This inexperience coupled with the fact that she's so iconic to me as a TV personality made it difficult to see her as someone other than who I'm used to seeing.  I never quite believed Gloria as a cheating alcoholic.  An accent that sort of came and went like the wind didn't help much either.  As an old woman in her final scene, all I could picture was the dream scene with Michele and Sandy Frink from Romey and Michele's High School Reunion.  I doubt that's the effect Daniels was going for.   

My criticisms and the goofy presidential cameos in this film notwithstanding, I'm thrilled for Oprah and I'd be shocked if she weren't nominated for an Academy Award.  And as of right now, she probably has the best chance for the win.  It doesn't necessarily take an exceptional performance to get votes.   A bigger factor much of the time is the narrative.   Were Oprah new to the scene, I doubt we'd make much fuss about her in this film.  Ultimately I found it an unremarkable performance from an incredibly remarkable woman.  


  1. So you think Oprah has a better chance of winning than

    1. As of right now, yes. We'll see what the reviews are like out of Toronto though.

  2. I am happy for Oprah that she is getting glowing reviews ina well received film. If she wins then good for her - I'm sure most people will be happy for her.

    Perhaps it's my imagination but the Support category has been getting more competitive lately. Powerhouse performances such as Mo'Nique in Precious, Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables and even Octavia Spencer in The Help have helped raise the bar.

    Still, I am skeptical of Meryl being squashed into this category. Looking froward to Toronto and all the articles coming from it. It's been so long since a Meryl picture did the rounds at festivals it will be exciting. Just wish they gave out acting awards there...!

    1. I too am skeptical about Meryl going supporting but I think Toronto will be very telling. If she gets out of his world reviews and is believable as supporting, then bye bye Oprah. Maybe even campaigned in lead then. Also the reviews for Julia are important. If Meryl completely overshadows in reviews, maybe first priority in lead.