Five reasons why Oprah will win an Oscar for ‘The Butler’

Oprah Winfrey will win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “The Butler” for the following reasons:

1. She has a co-leading role. 
History has shown us time and time again that size does matter when it comes to the secondary acting categories. Just last year, Christoph Waltz in“Django Unchained” pulled off a somewhat surprising win in a highly competitive Supporting Actor race, probably helped by the fact that he had significantly more screen time than most of his fellow nominees. (How could a semi-cameo role like Alan Arkin’s in “Argo” even compete?)

Over the years, the Supporting Actress trophy in particular has gone to countless  performances that were arguably leading or semi-leading: Eva Marie Saint in “On the Waterfront,” Patty Duke in “The Miracle Worker,” Goldie Hawn in “Cactus Flower,” Tatum O’Neal in “Paper Moon,” Vanessa Redgrave in “Julia,” Jessica Lange in “Tootsie,” Peggy Ashcroft in “A Passage to India,” Geena Davis in “The Accidental Tourist,” Mercedes Ruehl in “The Fisher King,” Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny,” Mira Sorvino in “Mighty Aphrodite,” Juliette Binoche in “The English Patient,” Marcia Gay Harden in “Pollock,” Catherine Zeta-Jones in “Chicago” and Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls,” among others.

Winfrey is visible in “The Butler” for much of the film’s duration, and with substantial (and memorable) dialogue. It currently appears that most of the other potential contenders in this category (Lupita Nyongo in “12 Years a Slave,” Octavia Spencer in “Fruitvale Station,” Margo Martindale in “August: Osage County,” June Squibb in “Nebraska,” Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine” and Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle”) have traditional supporting parts.

There’s simply more of Oprah to love, and that’s good news when it comes to the Oscar.

2. She plays the long-suffering wife and mother. 
Gold Derby has frequently discussed the awards glory that often comes from playing the sympathetic yet misunderstood spouse and/or parent of a film’s central character, especially in the supporting races. Take for example the Academy Award wins by Alice Brady in “In Old Chicago,” Jane Darwell in “The Grapes of Wrath,” Donald Crisp in “How Green Was My Valley,” Anne Revere in “National Velvet,” Melvyn Douglas in “Hud,” Cloris Leachman in “The Last Picture Show,” Beatrice Straight in “Network,” Meryl Streep in “Kramer vs. Kramer,” Olympia Dukakis in “Moonstruck,” Brenda Fricker in “My Left Foot,” Jim Broadbent in “Iris,” Jennifer Connelly in “A Beautiful Mind” and Melissa Leo in “The Fighter.”

Winfrey’s Gloria Gaines in “The Butler” seems almost tailor-made for awards attention.  And not only is she terrific in the role, she both ages and dies on screen. Academy voters will surely take notice.

3. She will likely take the Golden Globe Award. 
The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. typically crowns the early frontrunner, and its members love to reward big stars. So how can Oprah possibly lose? 

She’s been seen as the favorite since her film’s release in August. Plus, her star power may be brighter than all of the other nominees combined. (Will the group really pick an unknown like Nyongo?) Supporting Actress will likely be one of the first awards of the night. What could be better than kicking off the show with the former queen of talk taking to the stage? Winfrey could get a standing ovation and will surely deliver a knockout speech. The boost that she’ll get could put her on track to an easy Oscar victory.

4. She will likely take the Screen Actors Guild Award. 
Like 2011’s “The Help,” “The Butler” may benefit in the SAG competition from its August release date and $100 million-plus box office gross. (Recall that “The Help” won three awards, including ensemble and both female acting prizes for Viola Davis and Spencer.)

There’s a good chance that Winfrey’s performance will be the most widely seen among this year’s supporting actress nominees. The diverse SAG membership will probably respect Winfrey for her decades of work in television and her commitment to numerous causes. And it’s not like she’s a novice to acting. Most actors will remember her from her standout (and Oscar-nominated) turn in “The Color Purple” almost 30 years ago. “The Butler” might even take the SAG Outstanding Cast honor. If she and the film win big at SAG, it may be hard for Winfrey to not win the Oscar. 

5. She represents the best chance for “The Butler” to win a major category. 
While it may not be a lock, there’s a good chance that the well-received film will make it into the 2013 Best Picture race. It has a large and Oscar-friendly cast, historical significance, excellent reviews and box office, and strong technical credentials.

If “12 Years a Slave” wins several of the top races (Picture, Actor, Adapted Screenplay and maybe Supporting Actor,) Supporting Actress may seem like a logical place to reward a different film. And even if “The Butler” doesn’t make it into the top race, Winfrey could still stand to benefit. A vote for her could be seen as compensation for the film’s snub. So both Oprah and her “Butler” could end up being well served on Oscar night.

Who do you think is going to win Best Supporting Actress? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. 

15 thoughts on “Five reasons why Oprah will win an Oscar for ‘The Butler’

  1. Reasons Oprah Winfrey will win an Oscar:1.She’s Oprah.2.She’s Oprah.3.She’s Oprah.4.She’s Oprah 5.Take wild guess.

  2. Oprah is the most influential woman in America …she should be able to organise a winning campaign with her friends in Hollywood against a young woman out of drama school , in her first movie , that few people have ever heard of

  3. Well, mention should certainly be made of the GRANDDADDY of all supporting-Oscar-for-lead-performance winners: Timothy Hutton in “Ordinary People”. Hutton was THE main character of the film–the sole protagonist, for goodness sake. Mary Tyler Moore, who is in the movie half as long as Hutton, copped a lead actress Oscar nomination. That’s what happens when you let the studios decide which category an actor/actress is eligible for. Pretty cheesy.

  4. She’s a Liberal Hag Obama supporter. Thank Oprah for her assistance with this large Obama STAIN on America. Maybe she’ll donate her billions to assist with the people losing their healthcare. But I doubt it. As or the Oscar, who cares?

  5. I’d like to take a stop-watch to her screentime, because when watching “The Butler” Winfrey’s struck me as a supporting performance. I think Forest Whitaker is the only lead performance in the film.

    Some have tried to say over the years that Rachel Weisz really had a lead performance in “Constant Gardener,” but then I went back and clocked it: the way the film is structured, she’s the lead for the first 45 minutes, and then almost completely absent from the next 90 minutes. I suspect Winfrey is in a greater percentage of “The Butler,” but I don’t think she’d rise to the level of lead actress.

  6. Since seeing THE BUTLER, I’ve had a sick feeling she might win an oscar for this. I need some nausea meds!!! Not that she is bad in the film…she is mediorce to OK that coupled with the fact that she is a megalomaniac I am rich enough to do so many people so much good love me for it makes it all the worse. Please academy don’t nominate her!!!

  7. Agreed with this. Her biggest competition only claim to fame is getting beat up. Though I don’ think WInfrey is as strong a lock as SAG as you, I do think she will win Globe easy where Lupita wont even be nominated.

  8. Although I agree with the breakdown of this article, I still believe that Lupita will reign in this category. I thought that Oprah had it but Lupita’s performance was out of this world and truly heartbreaking. I’m sorry but Oprah should eat a nice slice of humble pie and make way for Lupita to take home the Oscar because if you compare the two performances, Lupita should prevail.

  9. I don’t think it’s going to happen for Oprah. She’ll probably get nominated, but I don’t think she’ll win.I think Lupita Nyong’o of 12 Years a Slave will win.

  10. Ann, maybe you could direct your anger *away* from the movies. Perhaps take it over to Fox News? This is supposed to be a happy place; no one needs your snipey negativity.

  11. I don’t think she should win an Oscar for The Butler. Her role was a definite Oscar ploy, comparable to Monique in Precious, but she really did not rise to the challenge. Haven’t see 12 Years a slave yt, but as of now, my choice is Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine.

  12. If Oprah wins, it will be because of celebrity and celebrity alone. She gave a perfectly adequate performance of an unexceptional role that didn’t warrant a nomination, much less the award. It’s nothing against her personally but I wasn’t impressed with her performance in the slightest. It’s a slim field so far but I’d vote for Lupita Nyong’o in “!2 Years a Slave” or Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine” based on what I’ve seen. I wouldn’t even use Oprah to round out the field.

  13. Amazing how little I frequent the Oscar-watching sites until it gets closer to nominations, and yet I feel like I have a better take on the race than people writing for these sites. I LOVE Oprah, both for her performance in The Color Purple (majorly ripped off, though Anjelica Huston has been amazing subsequently) and for her talk show. But I saw The Butler, and while she did enough to be nominated and was the best part of the movie, there’s no way they’re handing her a second Academy Award for this generic film. Whitaker won’t even be nominated, and a total shutout except for Oprah wouldn’t surprise me either. It just wasn’t very good at all. The typical post-Precious less from Lee Daniels, despite the best of intentions. Now Lupita was no one before Slave, but if she’s as powerful as they say she is — and she sure is beautiful, young, and eloquent, all of which matter — then they may find her undeniable. And even Oprah would back down and hail her win, even interviewing her for OWN. The point is that I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid.

  14. I think the fact that she had more screen time will work against Winfrey, because her inexperience as an actress really came through in a lot of the scenes. A better director could have gotten a better performance out of an actress like Winfrey (Spielberg in THE COLOR PURPLE). She had too much screen time, and seasoned actresses would have knocked it out of the park. A more tightly edit of Winfrey’s performance would have been more beneficial in helping her possibly win an Oscar.

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