Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) was a butler at the White House under eight different presidents during over many years of the civil rights movement.
What I enjoyed about this film was the journey of Cecil’s son, Louis (David Oyelowo) through the Freedom Riders, with Martin Luther King Jnr, into the Black Panther movement and beyond. It was a well told story, with the structure of the interactions with the presidents to show the way things didn’t change at the same time that everything changed. Still, you do need to suspend your belief a lot – it is a big ask to have a film span such a long time and have the same actors. Both Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey looked far too old for their young years, though the aging of the other actors was more effective. The story is strong enough to beat those flaws.
The Butler was nominated for BAFTAs for Best Supporting Actor (Oprah Winfrey) and Best Make Up/Hair.
1987, Harlem. Claireece Precious Jones is a morbidly obese African-American teenager who is living with her abusive mother. She is also pregnant with her second child to her father who has molested her since she was small. She ends up being sent to a new school ‘Each one teach one’ where she begins to find her place in the world.
Watching this film inspired me to a Facebook discussion about this type of movie. A movie that is very good, and strong and worth seeing, but that you never ever want to see again. Sadtacular. Sad, yet spectacular.
I hated this film in many ways, but I was glad I saw it. But, like many sadtacular films, I was let down by the end. I’m sure it was supposed to be inspirational as Precious walks down the street (I don’t think that’s too much of a spoiler) but all I could see was a total lack of future for this tragic character and her children. It feels as though the films ends on a turning point. Perhaps if it had have continued, it would have dragged. Perhaps it’s best not to know what happens from here. All I know is that I was left wanting more.
Precious won Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Mo’Nique) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. It was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Directing (Lee Daniels), Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Gabourey Sidibe).