Why Austin Butler Needs An Oscar For His Elvis Performance

Since its premiere in theaters on June 24th, Baz Luhrmann's Elvis has been a huge financial success. The biopic, which cost $85 million to produce, has grossed over $200 million worldwide. As a result of its commercial success, Baz Luhrmann's film is now being compared to another movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, which tells the story of Queen front man Freddie Mercury and is directed by Bryan Singer. With over $900 million worldwide, Bohemian Rhapsody has become the highest-grossing musical biopic. The film directed by Baz Luhrmann is now in second place.


Elvis has fared better with critics and audiences than Bohemian Rhapsody did at the box office. Elvis's costume department, as one would expect for a film about the "King of Rock and Roll," delivers all the necessary glitz and glamour. Austin Butler's central performance as Elvis Presley has been singled out for the most acclaim from reviewers and audiences. Butler's warmth and enthusiasm for his role as Elvis permeate the entire film, leading many to label him an early favorite to be nominated for an Academy Award.


Even though Butler isn't the only actor to deliver a terrific performance in a musical biopic, his portrayal of Elvis is excellent. No part of his presentation, from his voice to his mannerisms, is without praise. In the teaser trailers released before the film's premiere, audiences caught snippets of Butler's performance, which included his impersonation of Elvis' signature accent. Butler does an excellent job of imitating Elvis's voice and speaking style. At the film's beginning, Elvis uses Butler's real vocals for the musical pieces, which depict Elvis's discovery and early performances. Elvis's voice is utilized in the songs with the King's reign winding down. The sound design complements Butler's performance, so it's hard to tell that two different people are singing the same songs at different times in the movie.


Various actors were considered for the King of Rock and Roll role in Luhrmann's film before the final choice was made. Before Butler was chosen for the part, several actors were considered for it, including Miles Teller, Harry Styles, and Ansel Elgort. Before a final choice was made, both Elgort and Teller had been cast in their respective roles; Teller as Top Gun: Maverick and Elgort in West Side Story. Although Teller ultimately got the part of Rooster in Top Gun, Butler was a contender for the part. In the end, Butler and Teller were passed up for roles that would have been perfect for each of them; given their subsequent successes, it was clear that the proper choices had been made.



Butler includes several iconic moments from each era of Elvis's life. About two-thirds of the way through Elvis, he makes one of his most startling remarks. Elvis can be seen in the closet of his late mother Gladys (Helen Thomson), holding onto her belongings and wiping away tears. Elvis is sitting in his car outside of Graceland, remembering his mother, when Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) sneaks in and tries to get Elvis to pose for pictures. This scene provides further evidence of the exploitative relationship between the Colonel and Elvis, which is the story's central pillar. However, it is Butler who steals the show, even stealing the attention of the real-life Presley family, despite sharing the screen with a famous name and face in Hanks.


Luhrmann's technique, which includes multiple flashes between Butler's performance and the actual film of Elvis, bolsters the meticulous care with which some of Elvis' classic appearances and performances were recreated. The seamless integration of Butler's death with Elvis's performance is a credit to the actors and crew's dedication to providing an even-handed and, at times, brutally honest look at the King's career. It would be a shock to many if Butler did not earn any recognition during this year's award season, given the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from critics and moviegoers alike.



Contributed by Annabel Joe

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