Anyone who watched the coverage of the Democratic National Convention cannot help but have been inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s incredible speech on Tuesday night. Facebook and Twitter were aflutter with comments like “Now that’s how you do it!” and “Michelle is my hero!” and even “I am totally crushing on Michelle right now” (that last one was posted by a heterosexual female friend of mine – because that’s how good it was!) The point is, she is the epitome of intellect, poise and grace and in my humble opinion is giving Jackie a run for her money. Now I wasn’t alive when the former Mrs. Kennedy was FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States), but I’m pretty sure she is the last Mrs. President who stole the hearts of Americans like Michelle is doing now and has been for the past several years. I sure feel lucky and excited to be experiencing a time when an African American couple is residing in the White House showing America how hard working, intelligent, family-oriented people can achieve the seemingly impossible. And if I were President Obama, I would sure be proud of my remarkable, beautiful, not to mention incredibly fashionable wife right about now, and I’d be thanking her profusely for single handedly securing him, at the very least, the female vote in this country. I mean, Mrs. Romney v. First Lady Obama? No contest whatsoever. No matter what your political views, that’s a tough one to argue.
It’s rare that a political speech really inspires me, since I know too well that they are typically just scripted manipulative words meant to do nothing but secure viewers’ votes, but sometimes the delivery exceeds all expectations and I find myself forgetting how disingenuous they might really be. However, the only time I really allow myself to withhold all judgement and just go with my emotions is in the world of entertainment. Somehow when politicians are glorified on the big screen, I get sucked in and allow my eyes to get misty with each inspirational speech or awe inspiring recreation of remarkable historic events.
Of all the First Ladies I’ve enjoyed watching on the silver screen, a few stand out the most either because of the flawless portrayal or because of the memorable nature of the films themselves. First there is Katie Holmes playing Jackie Kennedy in the 2011 TV miniseries The Kennedys. Say what you will about Ms. Holmes, but I gotta hand it to her for that performance. Maybe it was just the visual trickery (in that she did look remarkably like Jackie) but there was definitely something about her portrayal that I think earned her the recognition. Then there is Elizabeth Banks playing Laura Bush in W, the 2008 flick about former President George W. Bush (played by Josh Brolin) that actually had me feeling sorry for old Georgie (don’t worry, it didn’t last long). But Banks’ portrayal was truly convincing as the quiet librarian who stands by her man through thick and thin and helps nurse him through his struggle with alcoholism. Up next is Laura Linney who played Mrs. Abigail Adams in the 2008 miniseries John Adams opposite Paul Giamatti. I’m a huge fan of Ms. Linney and it’s no wonder she won the Golden Globe for this convincing performance of a First Lady who endures such challenges as a revolution, a smallpox epidemic and children with alcoholism, to name a few. And lastly there is Joan Allen who was nominated for the Academy Award for her portrayal of Pat Nixon in the 1995 film Nixon. Playing opposite Anthony Hopkins, she embodies the former First Lady and wows audiences and critics alike with her stunning performance.
Up next: one of my favorites – Minka Kelly – tackles Jackie Kennedy opposite James Marsden’s John F. Kennedy in The Butler. Will they do the presidential couple justice? I can only hope so considering how much l enjoy both young actors – but I also worry that the bar has been set pretty high with all the portrayals that have come before them. I guess time will tell.
So there you have it – a few fictional takes on actual First Ladies that have caught my attention; of course, none of them remotely compare to the real deal, Michelle Obama, who will go down in history as one of the greatest First Ladies of our nation. Now voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of these Hollywood portrayals of former First Ladies is your favorite?
Katie Holmes (The Kennedys)
Elizabeth Banks (W)
Laura Linney (John Adams)
Joan Allen (Nixon)