Lee Daniels' The Butler - 8 stars out of 10
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is entirely unique. This creative script delivers a history lesson on the Civil Rights Movement from a perspective within the White House. That being said, this film is not a biopic of Eugene Allen (renamed Cecil Gaines in the film). It is full of historical inaccuracies about the main character but uses him as a focal point around which the events of the Civil Rights Movement are told. The film packs an awesome amount of history into 2-hours, spanning the White House administrations from Eisenhower to Reagan and highlights events like the Nashville sit-ins, KKK attacks, and the development of the Black Panthers. Although it is surprising that this film was completed snubbed by the Academy, the acting was not at the level that I expected. The exceptions were Forest Whitaker as he played one character over the course of 50+ years, Oprah’s emotional moments (which were the biggest Oscar snub), and David Oyelowo as the main character’s (historically nonexistent) son. I like Terrence Howard but he wasn’t in enough of the film to leave an impression. The biggest acting faux paux of this film was the use of big name actors in the roles of the presidents and first ladies. Instead of choosing lesser known actors that truly resemble these characters and could have added to the realism of this story, it turned into a bunch of cameos (including Robin Williams as… Dwight D. Eisenhower?) I found Nelsan Ellis’s performance as Martin Luther King, Jr. to be very effective. Imagine if the presidential interpretations were just as effective (instead of spending half of the movie thinking “I wonder who is going to play Reagan”). They really missed an opportunity to earn a Best Supporting Actor nomination. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” may not have succeeded in the eyes of the Academy but it definitely has a place on my list of must-see movies due to its interesting script and interpretation of the Civil Rights Movement.