And a Happy Friday and Happy almost New Year to all; like most of you I’m sure, I can’t wait for 2016 to end, it’s been a miserable year in many ways (except for Cubs and Cavaliers fans, of course).
But we ring out 2016 with one more dollop of good news. As usually happens, the last week of the year doubles as “new movie time” for the wife and I, and one we have been looking forward to seeing for a while was “Hidden Figures,” which is playing in only a few theaters so far.
The flick, based on an incredible true story, is about three African-American NASA employees in the 1960s, who each in their own way had a significant role in helping America win the space race.
Taraji P. Henson plays Katherine, the most important historically of the trio, who has a fantastic brain for math and gets put on the Freedom 7 space shuttle project under crotchety boss Mr. Harrison (Kevin Costner, who was great here) while Octavia Spencer and Janelle Morae are also crucial to the NASA effort.
The movie shows us their rise, the obstacles they had to overcome as women and minorities in that time period, and how ultimately their contributions were vital.
It was an outstanding movie. I can’t believe, first of all, that this story hadn’t been told before. The performances, especially from Henson and Spencer, are fantastic. The script is funny and warm, even if a lot of the mathematical discussions went way, way over my head. I thought so much of this story was inspiring, and hopefully makes millions of kids in the U.S. realize math and science are worthwhile pursuits, even if our space program and NASA aren’t doing much exploration at the moment.
My only quibble with the film, and it’s why I’d give it 3.5 stars out of four, is that they go a bit overboard on ramping up the drama. We get hit over the head quite a few times with the themes of prejudice and injustice, so much so that I was basically saying to the screen “OK, OK, we get it, they’ve overcome a lot.”
By the end, the filmmakers almost ruined it for me by making Katherine’s character seem so incredibly important that we’re supposed to believe John Glenn never would’ve made it safely back from space if not for her, that she was the one and only person who could solve a final hurdle. It was a little too much to take.
Still, that’s a nitpick. “Hidden Figures” is a tremendous movie, one that I hope gets quite a few Oscar nominations. It comes out nationwide next week, I highly recommend it.
**Next up, seeing “Hidden Figures,” filled with brilliant, inspirational African-American women, made me think of one in particular who stole the show in 2016.
I will miss our current President’s intelligence, grace and calm immensely, but I’ll also miss his amazing wife. In a year full of nastiness and vitriolic speeches, there was one speech I thought about long after it was delivered, one I’ll remember for years to come.
One more time, Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention. This was one of the most powerful oratories I’ve ever heard. What a bright, compassionate trailblazer she is. Listen to this one more time, and realize what we’ll be losing in three weeks.
She’ll never run for office, I’m pretty sure. But man, if she did, I’d be the first person on line to help her get elected.
**Finally today, I thought this was pretty cool. A 20-year-old college student named Emily Zauzmer has a pretty cool hobby: Re-creating famous paintings in sheet cakes.
She goes to Harvard, so she’s clearly pretty bright, but look at the level of detail and intricacy on the “American Gothic” cake above. That’s just fantastic.
You go, Emily Zauzmer. I just want to know how you can eat those cakes after making them look so beautiful. I’d want to frame them and hang ’em on a wall or something.