REVIEW – HIDDEN FIGURES – Waiting to Exhale meets The Right Stuff.
We’ve all got used tot he images of NASA over the years. Buzz cut aw shucks heroes like Sam Shepherd, Tom Hanks and Dennis Quaid – blasting off into space and the only maths you hear is 5-4-3-2-1. And the only black faces you see are… well you don’t see any.
Octavia Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughan, the leader of a section of computers – this was when computers were actually people who did the math. Janelle Monáe is Mary Jackson, the sassy engineer. Taraji P Henson plays Katherine Johnson, promoted to a role in the Space Task Group. She is essential for sending John Glenn into orbit as part of the Mercury program. They have to deal with the hard sums, but also the institutional racism and the snidey snips of Kirsten Dunst, among others.
Taken from Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures is a great watch for Black History Month. A reminder of the contribution Afro-Americans have made and how that contribution has been systematically erased. The only problem with the movie is that to make the struggle against racism familiar, the actual history is twisted. Desegregation took place at NASA three years before the film even begins in 1961. And the various promotions and achievements also don’t tally with the chronology. This allows Kevin Costner to be a white knight and Dunst to have a learning curve. But there is uplift and not only from the launchpads. A timely reminder of how much we can do when we work together.
HOLLYWOOD – The Academy published the Oscar nominations earlier this week. We give our reaction.
So apparently, the Oscars are on again this year. It’s almost as if it’s every year now. We were going to do a full list of nominations but my cut and paste finger is sore. So you can go here and see that. Then come back and read this.
First things first. The Academy discovered there are people in America who aren’t white! Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures all picked up nods as did Ruth Negga with Loving, the Jeff Nichols film. Supporting actress category saw Miss Moneypenny as well as Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer getting nommed. If that’s a a verb.
To round of the diversity anti-Semite Mel Gibson received a nomination for Hacksaw Ridge, the perfect American movie – loads of dirty Japanese get killed while we pretend to admire pacifism.
Then there were the SNUBS. Amy Adams didn’t get nominated for Arrival and Martin Scorsese missed out with Silence. To be honest, Adams is great but there’s a law that Meryl Streep has to be nominated and that took her spot. As for Silence. Kundun was miles better. Silence is like Shogun but with more religion and less Richard Chamberlain.
La La Land received a large haul of nominations. There’s a point at which this kind of love begins to hurt a movie. I loved La La Land, but I saw it in August when no one else had. If I was to walk in having heard all the praise, I might be tempted to think the film a technically bit of superficial whimsy. I don’t think that. But with the group think pressure to love it, I can understand the Pavlovian backlash that is on its way.
So we’ll leave predictions to the experts. Who knows? Maybe we’ll post about he Oscars again before the actually ceremony. Feel free to comment in the box about how you think the whole think went down. We never read them.
The Academy announce the winners on February 26th, 2017.