Column: Why Austin Butler deserves the Oscar

Meghan Tripp, Photo Editor

Award season is officially in full swing, and everyone’s buzzing about the top dog of all awards ceremonies: the Academy Awards. 

Nominations for the 95th Academy Awards were announced last Tuesday, and people are already making their predictions about who will take home the gold in each category. My prediction? Austin Butler deserves to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Elvis Presley in “Elvis.” 

Usually, I don’t pay much attention to award ceremonies. It’s not because I think they’re over the top and super pretentious or anything. It’s just never really been my thing. That all changed when Butler graced movie theater screens everywhere. 

My first time seeing the film was a rollercoaster of emotions. I laughed and I cried, but I also sat there completely starstruck for the entire two hours and 39 minutes. I remember walking out of the theater and thinking to myself “that kid is going to win an Oscar for that.”

The day Butler found out that director Baz Luhrmann was making “Elvis,” he immediately hired a singing, dancing and dialect coach, before even being given an audition. 

When I saw the film for the first time, there were so many times when I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between Elvis’ singing voice and Butler’s. Not to mention how well he was able to perfect Elvis’ many accents over the years. For someone who claims not to be a singer or a dancer, he had us all fooled. 

For years, Butler studied the characteristics and personality of Elvis and his stage presence in preparation for the role. He listened to every interview he ever gave and watched every performance he ever did. He took note of every little hip movement and lip curl and portrayed those motions perfectly. If you watch them side by side, it’s practically identical. This kid did his homework and it totally paid off. 

Obviously, I wasn’t alive to experience the magic of Elvis Presley in real-time. After seeing the film and the hard work that Butler poured into this film, it honestly felt as though Elvis himself had been reincarnated in a way. Butler embodied him both as a person and an icon so well that I saw some qualities of the real Elvis in him. The levels of excitement sparked by Butler’s performance must have been what people felt when Elvis was still alive and performing. I didn’t quite understand all the hype about Elvis then, but now that I’ve seen the film I totally get it. He is keeping his incredible legacy alive, especially among the younger generations.

Butler isn’t just another tacky Elvis impersonator you see in Vegas. He’s the real deal. He understood that Elvis Presley was a real person, and he wanted to make sure he gave this role his all out of respect for him and his family. Members of the Presley family, including Priscilla and the late Lisa Marie, have spoken out multiple times praising Butler for his performance. He connected with them in ways not many people have, and they accepted him into their family with open arms. 

Now, for most people, Austin Butler is a name they’ve never heard of before. For me, it’s one I’ve recognized since I was in middle school. I remember seeing this kid’s face on Nickelodeon as a side character in “iCarly” and “Zoey 101,” while also portraying Sebastian Kydd on The CW’s “The Carrie Diaries.” Although he’s done some side work since then, this was his first major role. I couldn’t imagine the pressure and high expectations that come with having my first major role being Elvis Presley, but Butler practically came out of nowhere and knocked this one out of the park, so much so that Elvis himself would approve. 

In addition to his Academy Award nomination, Butler has already won a Golden Globe for Best Actor at the 2023 Golden Globe Awards for his role in “Elvis.” He also won the People’s Choice Award for the Drama Movie Star of 2022 as well as an AACTA (the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts) award for Best Lead Actor in Film in 2022, both of which for his portrayal of the King of Rock and Roll. 

Now, I have seen a lot of movies in my life from a variety of different genres. I can confidently say I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actor or actress be so dedicated to their role in the way Butler was to his. Like any actor, he wanted to succeed and make the best possible film that he could, but wanting to do right by Elvis and his family and not settling for anything less than and making that his number one priority earns him an Oscar win in my mind.