Hidden Figures adds up to great numbers while Golden Globes nods Moonlight and Fences

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OCTAVIA SPENCER AS Dorothy Vaughan leads her team of “computers,” as they were called, into the room where the new mainframe IBM computer was housed in a scene from “Hidden Figures,” which is set in the early 1960s. 

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader

The following is an excerpt from The New York Times, after folks associated with the recent Golden Globes awards seemed to create a new movie called “Hidden Fences.”

Let’s just be very clear about this: There is no movie called “Hidden Fences.”

But you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise after watching the Golden Globes, where the nonexistent movie was mentioned twice.

The first time was definitely a mistake. The second time is not so clear.

First, NBC’s Jenna Bush Hager, taking her first turn at Golden Globes reporting, presumably meant to ask Pharrell Williams about his best original score nomination for “Hidden Figures,” a movie about three Black women who would play crucial roles in the American space program.

Surely she didn’t mean to ask him about “Fences,” a similarly renowned film starring Viola Davis and Denzel Washington. Mr. Williams had no involvement in that.

That seemed to be the end of things, but for some reason, Michael Keaton also referred to “Hidden Fences” when listing the nominees for best supporting actress in a motion picture. Since the camera was focused on the actresses, it’s unclear if Mr. Keaton said it with a wink and a nod.

JANELLE MONAE AS Mary Jackson, Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson and Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan share a celebratory moment in “Hidden Figures,” the top grossing movie for the weekend of January 8th.

Twitter reacted as swiftly as President-elect Donald Trump did afterward in reaction to Meryl Streep’s unkind mention of him during the ceremonies. The reaction of Twitter is probably what prompted the newspaper article by The New York Times. While “Hidden Figures” didn’t win any awards at the star-studded event, it was a great film, filled with great historical data and fantastic performances by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, as well as Mahershala Ali and Kevin Costner.

“Hidden Figures” broke box office records, because it was the highest grossing movie for the weekend ending January 8, surpassing the franchise installment of the latest Star Wars film — Rogue One-A Star Wars Story. “Hidden Figures” tells the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. This was a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big. All major cast members delivered extraordinary performances. It is so shameful that Blacks still struggle with some situations presented in the film.

“Hidden Figures,” which is heavy on the math, is a great movie for all family members, particularly young Black girls who are interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions.

“Moonlight,” which also stars Mahershala Ali, won a Golden Globe for Best Picture and is an unforgettable film at the intersection of race, sexuality, masculinity, identity, family, and love, and establishes Jenkins as a major American filmmaker for his ability to capture the pure feeling of longing and heartache playing out over the years. Featuring a trio of gifted actors (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes) inhabiting a single character named Chiron during three phases of his life, Moonlight tells the story of Chiron’s life in a tough Miami neighborhood. As Chiron (who also goes by the names Little and Black during different phases of the film) grows from an uncertain and tentative boy into a bullied teenager grappling with his sexuality and finally into a grown man, Jenkins skillfully shows through three distinct chapters a life in full, revealing how the powerful moments in each of our lives coalesce to shape our identities and define our fates.

Also during the awards ceremony, Viola Davis won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for “Fences.”

“Fences” is a 1983 play by Wilson that is set in the 1950s in Pittsburgh. It is the sixth play in Wilson’s ten-part “Pittsburgh Cycle” that explores the Black experience, while examining race relations, among other themes. The plot centers around Washington, who plays a former baseball player named Troy Maxson who creates tension in his family when he denies his teenage son’s dream of playing college football and comes home with the baby he had through an affair. The teenage son whose name is Corey is played by Jovan Adepo, and the wife Rose is played by Viola Davis. Other actors include Mykelti Williamson, Russell Hornsby and Stephen Henderson in their respective Broadway roles.

As well, Tracee Ellis Ross won a Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy TV Series for her performance in ABC’s “Blackish.”

For more on the movie “Fences,” refer to my previous column, and “Hidden Figures” is playing everywhere.

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