Oscar Nomination Movie Review: Elvis

Natalie Colarossi, Assistant Layout Designer

Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, released on June 24th, 2022, follows the life of 1950s rock star, Elvis Presley (Austin Butler). Elvis, a musical biography, gained popularity through its star studded cast including Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, and Richard Roxburgh. The film also gained fame from its eight Oscar nominations for the March 12th, 2023 award show. 

Elvis’ life story as narrated by his longtime manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) starts with recounting Presley’s childhood in lower-class Tupelo, Mississippi. At age 13, Presley moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he is ridiculed for his fascination with music, specifically the African-American music of Beale Street. Parker first meets Presley at The Louisiana Hayride after a controversial performance of That’s all right. Presley’s dance moves didn’t go over well in the conservative south, but Parker was able to keep Presley out of legal trouble as long as he agreed to serve in the US Army instead. After his release from the military, Presley meets Priscilla Beaulieu and they marry a few years later. The story continues with Presley’s tumultuous rise to fame and his rocky relationship with Parker, drugs, and his wife. 

In 159 minutes, Butler perfectly portrays Presley’s persona down to the accent and singing voice. The costuming and makeup departments were also spot on when transforming Butler into the king of rock and roll. As for the supporting cast and ensemble, they too transported the viewer into the southern 1950’s atmosphere. Butler, the costuming department, and the hair and makeup department are all nominated for Oscars in their respective categories. 

The cast perfectly reaches out to every generation. Butler as Elvis Presley appeals to millennials and younger, while the story line and other cast members like Tom Hanks appeal to older audiences. However, the movie is not appropriate for children under 13 due to drugs, alcohol, and language. 

The setting was historically accurate and included exact remakes of The Louisiana Fair and several other iconic Elvis performances. The production team for Elvis is also nominated for an Oscar. 

The best part of the movie was the incorporation of Elvis’ music. There were only a few original songs, however Luhrmann included artists like Doja Cat, Maneskin, and Kasey Musgraves who all sampled Elvis songs. This added a modern twist to a movie mainly set in the 50’s. Elvis was also nominated for best sound at the Oscars. 

Overall, Elvis is a great watch if you are interested in learning more about the life of Elvis Presley. It won’t tell you everything you need to know, but it is still worth the watch for the music and screenplay alone.