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CLEANING UP

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” Did It: Four Mysteries Solved By The New Film

Lee Daniels’ The Butler comes out today, featuring an all-star cast including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, and Daniels favorites Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey. Basically everyone in the world is in this movie, all to tell the inspiring tale of Cecil Gaines, the titular butler inspired by the real life Eugene Allen, who served under seven presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan.

While Gaines toils away in the presence of greatness, privy to some historic presidential precedents — Eisenhower sending troops to Little Rock, JFK ‘s civil rights address, LBJ’s Civil Rights Act, Nixon being drunk  — his son Louis makes history as an activist, participating in sit-ins, hanging out with Martin Luther King, joining the Black Panthers, etc. The entire film is a lesson in the civil rights movement and it brings that tumultuous time alive like no film in recent memory.

It also brings to light some unsolved mysteries, answers to which are found throughout the film. We’re tying a smart sweater around our shoulders and peddaling through Cabot Cove à la a young Angie Lansbury to solve these cases.

Queerty, She Wrote. Check out 4 mysteries solved by Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

1. The Case of Oprah‘s Stolen Oscar

oprah-butler

Mystery: Anyone who’s ever seen The Color Purple knows that Oprah and Whoops Goldberg were openly robbed for Best Supporting and Lead Actress, respectively. Yet no one called the cops. It was actually grand theft Oscar that March night in 1986, when The Color Purple tied the Shirley MacLaine-Anne Bancroft bitchfest The Turning Point as the most-nominated film without any wins: 11. Where’s Oprah‘s goddamn Oscar?

Case Closed: Right here. She’s fantastic in Lee Daniels’ The Butler as Cecil’s long-suffering, alcoholic wife, Gloria — bringing to mind another standout Lee Daniels-directed performance, Mo’Nique in Precious. While she doesn’t dance around in a spandex bodysuit like Mo, O does dance around in a two-tone jumpsuit and fake afro. Sounds like this case is ready to be put to bed.

2. The Case of Mimi’s Emancipation

mimi

Mystery: Mariah Carey was five minutes late to the press conference last week and it was the most amazing thing we’ve ever seen. In a room full of stars, including Oprah Fucking Winfrey, Mimi managed to outshine them all. But she’s in the movie for less than the five minutes by which she arrived tardy. Why?

Case Closed: Mariah plays the young Cecil’s mother, a field worker — slavery was technically over, but conditions had barely changed. The diva appears free of all the trappings of her diamond-encrusted life and makes the most of her few minutes on film. As for the why, Mimi explained during that press conference that she was just glad to be included with such a stellar cast. Divas can be team players, too.

3. The Case of Terrence Howard’s Missing Tooth

oprah-howard-butler

Mystery: Terrence Howard’s a good-looking man, much like Oprah has a little money set aside. His distracting prettiness almost cost him the role of her lascivious neighbor, Howard, however. Then he removed something that’s been a part of him for the past 25 years.

Case Closed: “Lee called me and he was like, ‘TT, I’m having trouble. I want to put you in this movie, but I can’t now. There’s this one character left but you’re too pretty for him. I don’t know what to do!’ ” Howard told CNN. “And he’s like, ‘Can we cut your hair off or maybe give you an eye patch or a scar or something?’ And I was like, ‘You know what, I got a crown on this front tooth, you know, I can take that out.’ He’s like, ‘Don’t you do it! Don’t you do it! … I’ll set up a dentist appointment right away!'”

4. The Case of Martin Luther Queen, Jr

lafayette

Mystery: Watching Louis Gaines hang out with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. before he got shot that fateful day in Memphis, Tennessee, you might take pause to wonder who’s portraying that legendary, mustachioed civil rights pioneer.

Case Solved: Then if you just imagine the mustache away, draw on some eyeliner and wrap that crewcut in a sequined scarf: Voilà! Lafayette Reynolds from True Blood. Nelsan Ellis is just one of the many famous people tapped to play even more famous people, so you’ll have a game of Name that Actor playing in the back of your head throughout the entire film:  James Marsden as JFK; Minka Kelly as Jackie Kennedy; Liev Schreiber as LBJ; Robin Williams as Eisenhower; Alan Rickman as Reagan; Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan; but John Cusack as Nixon is simply incredible. And drunk. We weren’t kidding before.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler opens nationwide today. Get showtimes and tickets here.

By:           Les Fabian Brathwaite
On:           Aug 16, 2013
Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,
  • 14 Comments
    • mpwaite
      mpwaite

      I have one word.. “OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAROSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAROSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAROSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAROSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAROSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAROSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAROSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAROSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAROSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAROSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAROSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR….” Did I mention that I smell “OSCAR”

      Aug 16, 2013 at 5:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • QuintoLover
      QuintoLover

      Minka Kelly is Jackie? Pssh. They should have gotten Rose Byrne. WAY better actress.

      Aug 16, 2013 at 6:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mr. E. Jones
      Mr. E. Jones

      No mention of Reagan and his ignorance of AIDS I guess?

      Aug 16, 2013 at 6:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Scribe38
      Scribe38

      Looking forward to seeing this movie and Queen O getting what’s hers. She was robbed of her damn Oscar.

      Aug 16, 2013 at 6:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Snapper59
      Snapper59

      I was thrilled as hell Anjelica Huston won the Oscar for “Prizzi’s Honor”. Orca was “robbed” of nothing.

      You can always tell when Queerty is collecting a paycheck from something.

      Anjelica: “I want you to do me now.”
      Jack Nicholson: “Mae-Rose, now? Here? On the rug?”
      Anjelica: “Yeah. Now. Right here on the oriental.”

      Aug 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • boring
      boring

      @mpwaite: That is the best Billy Crystal impression I’ve ever seen.

      Aug 16, 2013 at 10:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gaym50ish
      gaym50ish

      When “The Color Purple” was nominated in practically every category that year, “Out of Africa” was also nominated for everything. “Out of Africa” won in nearly every category and “The Color Purple” won NOTHING!

      What a travesty that was! At a minimum, Whoopi should have been best actress, Danny Glover should have been best actor and Oprah should have been best best supporting actress. It seems like the big production with the sweeping landscapes will always win for best picture, but Meryl Streep’s performance didn’t hold a candle to Whoopi’s, and Robert Redford should have taken a back seat to Danny Glover

      The proof of the film’s impact is how often it has been shown on TV over the years. “Out of Africa,” on the other hand, practically faded into obscurity until it surfaced on one of the premium movie channels just this year.

      Aug 17, 2013 at 6:46 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gaym50ish
      gaym50ish

      Actually, my memory was faulty when I assumed that Streep and Redford won that year. Geraldine Page was best actress for “The Trip to Bountiful” and William Hurt won best actor for “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Those performances were deserving enough, but we still have never seen anything like Whoopi Goldburg’s performance.

      Aug 17, 2013 at 7:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Snapper59
      Snapper59

      @gaym50ish: Yeah, I totally believe you saw “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “The Trip to Bountiful” and can judge.

      Aug 17, 2013 at 10:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • boring
      boring

      Films released in 1985 that were infinitely better than eye-rolling Oscar bait The Color Purple:

      MOTHERFUCKING After Hours
      Better Off Dead…
      Brazil
      CLUE
      Commando
      Day of the Dead
      Enemy Mine
      Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
      Fright Night
      Just One of the Guys
      Krush Groove
      Lost in America
      Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
      A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
      Once Bitten
      Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
      The Purple Rose of Cairo
      Ran
      RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD
      The Stuff
      To Live and Die in L.A.
      A Zed and Two Noughts

      Goddamn, 1985 was an amazing year for film.

      Aug 17, 2013 at 12:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • redspyder
      redspyder

      @gaym50ish:

      Anjelica Huston
      Best Supporting Actress, Prizzi’s Honor
      – Academy Awards, Winner
      – BAFTA Awards, Nominated
      – Golden Globes, Nominated
      – Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Winner
      – National Board of Review, Winner
      – National Society of Film Critics Awards, Winner
      – New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Winner

      Oprah Winfrey
      Best Supporting Actress, The Color Purple
      – Academy Awards, Nominated
      – BAFTA Awards —–
      – Golden Globes, Nominated
      – Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Nominated
      – National Board of Review —–
      – National Society of Film Critics Awards —–
      – New York Film Critics Circle Awards —–

      Seems like a whole bunch of people were involved in this ridiculous notion of a conspiracy to deny poor Oprah any of those Best Supporting Actress wins.

      Maybe its as simple as she wasn’t good enough.

      Aug 17, 2013 at 4:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • boring
      boring

      Note how no one’s stirring shit for Oprah not getting recognition for BELOVED, by the way.

      Aug 17, 2013 at 4:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tackle
      Tackle

      That’s because she was terrible in Beloved. Her inexperience as an actress showed. However Thandie Newton did a great job in Beloved, with a very difficult role. Playing a flesh & blood ghost. Kimberly Elise also did a good job in “Beloved”. But Oprah was great in,
      “The Color Purple”. Whoopi Goldberg was excellent in ” The Color Purple”, but terrible in Tyler Perry’s, ” For Colored Girls”. She just was NOT believeble as the religious fanatic mother, a similar part that Piper Laurie gave a masterpiece preformance as the mother of “Carrie”. It’s strange how one minute someone can turn in a great preformance, and the next, not so much.

      Aug 18, 2013 at 11:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Polaro
      Polaro

      “The Color Purple” was a great movie. The Oscars are the Oscars…

      Aug 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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