Published on: February 24, 2017
I finally saw Hidden Figures
, and I liked it enormously, and found it even more touching than I expected.
For those of you unaware of the film, Hidden Figures
is the true story of how, in the early sixties, a number of African-American women worked at NASA as "computers" - they were incredibly smart at math and science, and were able to do the complicated computations necessary to launch people into space and get them home again. This was at a time when black people had to use separate bathrooms, drink out of separate water fountains, use separate libraries and ride at the back of the bus in a number of southern states. It was, in fact, a time when social justice and equal rights were denied in certain places, with the bigots who wanted to deny them equality claiming it was a matter of "state's rights."Hidden Figures
manages the considerable trick of showing us how these women managed to transcend their circumstances personally and professionally without ever being trite; part of this is because their story is so damned compelling, and part of it is because of skillful performances from Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe as the three leads, and Kevin Costner as the NASA official (fictionalized for dramatic purposes) who helps enable their rise.
Directed by Theodore Melfi, who also co-wrote the film with Allison Schroeder, Hidden Figures
is all the more remarkable for the fact that it tells a story that largely has been unknown until now - after all, admitting that African-American women were behind the guys who The Right Stuff
portrayed as iconically heroic simply would not have fit the narrative that a predominantly white, male establishment would prefer to be accepted. But this movie makes clear that a culture that marginalizes anyone, not giving each and every person the ability to grow and achieve their maximum potential, is a society that will never reach its
ought to be shown in schools all over America. It tells an important story with implications beyond the launchpad ... because in this movie, the most powerful force is not the engine that propels astronauts into space, but the hearts and minds and souls of people who will not be put down.
I'm so glad this story has finally been told. And it offers enormous business lessons about how employees need to be empowered, and how it is the boss's responsibility to be in touch with the realities - good and bad - of the workplace, and for making the environment as conducive to getting good work done as possible.
Time to make my Oscar predictions, since the Academy Awards are scheduled for Sunday. (When my choice is at odds with who I think will win, I'll note it.)
• Best Picture: La La Land
(I'd prefer Moonlight
or Hell or High Water
Best Actor: Denzel Washington, Fences
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Jackie
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences
Best Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
(I'd vote for Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Best Original Screenplay: Manchester By The Sea
Best Adapted Screenplay: Fences (I'd prefer Moonlight.)
I have a wine to recommend to you this week: the 2013 Francis Coppola Reserve Pinot Noir from Sonoma ... it is utterly delicious and even has a label designed by Dean Tavoularis, production designer on The Godfather. Enjoy.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.