What Film Should Take Home the Oscar? A Case for Hidden Figures

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Every year my uncle, a huge film fanatic, has us make a list ranking all of our movies of the year. I’m not ashamed to say that up until the release of Hidden Figures, Pete’s Dragon topped that list. However, after watching the 2 hour 7 minute inspiring tale about 3 black female astronauts who are responsible for one of the most important space missions of all time, Pete’s Dragon had to finally surrender its post. Though I could talk for hours about why I personally loved this movie so much and why I feel that it’s the best movie of the year, I’d rather talk about why it deserves to take the home the Best Picture award come this Sunday.

It’s pretty much a done deal. La La Land is probably going to win. Though many are saying definitively it’ll be taking the place of the much more deserving films in the category (a truly remarkable film in its own right), I still have hope that Hidden Figures will take home that gold. Though everyone has probably grown sick of referencing why is it especially important to celebrate our differences in this political landscape, it is. Hidden Figures is a movie about good people doing good work and about overcoming our differences for the greater good. When this film was first released, many were complaining about how they hadn’t learned about these truly inspirational figures in school, but there is so much to content to cover in classes that it’s easy to pass over even the most compelling stories. Movies are often the place where we learn about such awe inspiring tales.

Hell or High Water sheds light on a part of society that doesn’t normally get attention from the mainstream, Moonlight explores the tale of a gay black man going through the stages of his life in a beautiful, subtle way, and Hidden Figures expertly navigates telling the story of 3 black female engineers who are now finally getting the respect they deserve. Though I would be happy to see any of these 3 films showing sides of America that most of us don’t get to see everyday take home the Best Picture Oscar, no film did it with as much fun and prowess as Hidden Figures. It is a feel good movie telling us to put aside our differences and come together. It recognizes that some of us have preconceptions we need to overcome and it doesn’t try to act that like it’s a perfect world we live in.

Though this film represents so much during this period in particular about unity and celebrating our diversity, it is also, from a purely movie aficionado’s perspective, fantastic. The acting performances by Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and Octavia Spencer are simply incredible. It’s a shame that Paramount Pictures pushed Viola Davis as a supporting actress for her work in Fences (although she was clearly the lead), so that Janelle Monae could’ve gotten one of those coveted supporting actress nomination spots. Perhaps, Spencer could’ve even won had they not pushed Davis for supporting. Margot Lee Shetterly, the black female author of the film expertly brings her book to the screen and manages to shine a light on the amazing intelligence and tenacity needed by these brilliant women without falling into any of the boring science minutia. Director Theodore Melfi manages to get truly powerful performances out of every actor on the screen and sets up their unique unabashed personalities from the very first scene.

Perhaps La La Land deserves to win best picture. This is only my opinion after all. However, in a year where Adele won over Beyonce, the Patriots won over the Falcons, and Donald Trump won over Hillary Clinton, I’d like one win that I can feel good about. Hidden Figures deserves the title and perhaps even more importantly deserves to win on behalf of all of the ridiculous losses so far this year. Let’s hope the Academy feels the same way. We’ll all see this Sunday night.

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