Turns out the Commander-in-Chief is also “Critic-in-Chief.” Oprah Winfrey’s “Super Soul Sunday” program on OWN focused on the hit summer indie film Beasts of the Southern Wild because Barack Obama recommended the movie to her. The talk show host interviewed the film’s director Benh Zeitlin and stars Quvenzhané Wallis (Hushpuppy) and Dwight Henry (Wink) this Sunday (11 am/10 am central time).
Here’s what she said in an OWN interview last week about her brief conversation with the President:
I don’t like to name drop, but the first person to tell me about this was the President of the United States. I was interviewing the president for an interview that’s going to be in O magazine . . . and as I sat down putting on my mic, he said ‘have you seen this movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild?’ I hadn’t even heard the phrase so I didn’t even know what he was talking about. And since then at least a dozen different people said to me, ‘have you seen this movie Beasts of the Southern Wild, you have got to see this film.’
Beasts of the Southern Wild stars a young girl, Hushpuppy, who lives with her brusk father Wink in Bathtub, a fictional Delta Louisiana community. She can hear her pets talk, as well as the voice of her mother, who left home long before. When Hushpuppy learns that Bathtub may be flooded and bombarded by aurochs (an extinct type of cattle), Hushpuppy becomes “a survivor and a chronicler, the Odysseus and Homer of her own seafaring epic,” Richard Corliss writes in his review of the film.
The film won the Caméra d’Or prize at Cannes for best feature and the highest honor for cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival.
It’s a bit out of character that the President likes this independent film so much because he is a classic movies buff, at least according to public comments. When he was running for president, Obama told Katie Couric in a September 2008 CBS Evening News interview that his favorite movies are the Godfather Parts I and II (“it’s all about family”), Lawrence of Arabia, and Casablanca. “I’m a movie guy,” he told Couric. “I can rattle off a bunch of movies.” Entertainment Weekly also reported that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is another one of his favorite flicks.
(MORE: All-TIME 100 Movies)