Tag Archive: taraji p henson


‘Hidden Figures’

 

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What a cast!

That was my first impression after watching the number one movie on MLK weekend.  Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae star as the trio of black women who were instrumental to the success of NASA and the space program in the 60s.  Aldis Hodge and Mahershala Ali have supporting roles as the men who doubt but ultimately support their women; Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons play masters of microaggression as the middle management bosses who are clearly threatened by the new blood rising; Kevin Costner gets to play another ‘man of his time’ who ultimately chooses to stand on the right side of history.

The title is a fantastic pun; even a lot of us who take pride in knowing black history couldn’t immediately quote back to you the story of these three real women: Katherine Johnson (Taraji) was instrumental in working out the math that helped America win the space race; Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia) was the first African-American supervisor at NASA; Mary Jackson (Monae) was one of the earliest black aerospace engineers and used her own foothold to help other women and minorities get their foot in the door.

These ‘based on a true story’ movies can veer in a lot of directions, but it’s easy to see why this one has been a critical and commercial favorite.  Definite recommend.

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Best Supporting Actress

 

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Here are the nominees for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:

  • Amy Adams in ‘Doubt’
  • Penelope Cruz in ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’
  • Viola Davis in ‘Doubt’
  • Taraji P. Henson in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
  • Marisa Tomei in ‘The Wrestler’

What may happen:  The people who love ‘Doubt’ may split the vote between Viola Davis and Amy Adams, opening the door for one of the other three ladies.  It’s also possible (but less likely) that voters may want a ‘sister’ to win and split votes between Taraji and Viola.  Either way, it doesn’t look good for Viola Davis (who did a hell of a job in a few scenes, worth checking out).

Who will probably win: Hmmmmmm.  This is usually the ‘unpredictable’ category.  I could see a case for Penelope or Taraji, but it would be ‘Oscar-style’ to give Marisa Tomei a second Oscar (to prove the first one wasn’t an ‘accident’ – classic urban legend, look it up if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Who I’ll be cheering for:  Taraji.  ‘Benjamin Button’ wasn’t my favorite movie this year, but not because I didn’t enjoy Taraji’s performance.  The sister can act man, and she added a lot to what was probably written as a one-note character.  And you know she’d give a hell of a speech if given the chance.

 

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In no particular order…

I overlooked Viola Davis (Doubt) during the Golden Globes, so let me start by saying I’m glad that sister got nominated.  But I’m really, really happy for Taraji P. Henson.  She’s moving up quickly and she more than deserves the attention.

I usually don’t cover documentaries in my predictions, but I checked out this flick called Man On Wire last week and really enjoyed it.  I see it’s up for Best Documentary and suggest it if you haven’t seen it.  It’s the story of this French kid who dreamed of tightrope walking between the Twin Towers, and ended up doing it in the 70s.  It reminded of one of my favorite movie lines (from Vanilla Sky), “What is life if not the pursuit of a dream?”

I don’t even think I’ve even verbalized this to my partner in crime, but one of my ‘super duper’ Hollywood dreams would be to host the Oscars one day.  It’s a thankless job, the biggest stage in town on the biggest night (a perfect marriage with my ambitious side).  And it’s a short list of ‘us’ who’s ever had the chance: Sammy, Richard Pryor (as co-hosts), Chris Rock, and of course Whoopi.  You have to be comfortable in a tux, you have to be acceptable to the mainstream, and you have to keep the show moving.  Who knows, maybe our new president made that dream a little more realistic for me someday.

The Dark Knight got eight nominations, including one for Heath for Best Supporting Actor.  But no Best Picture nomination, no nomination for Christopher Nolan for Best Director.  Eh, moving on…

I’ve got a few more movies to see, but I won’t be reviewing them here on the blog.  For now all I can say is stay tuned…

 

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is nominated for several Golden Globes, including Best Screenplay, Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director (for David Fincher), and Best Actor (Brad Pitt).  With that pedigree, you can rest assured Benjamin Button is one of the surefire Oscar picks for this year.  The story is about an ‘odd’ man named Benjamin Button who ages in reverse; he’s born as a withered newborn and regresses into youth.  The effects are impressive, but I’ll focus on the performances:

Taraji P. Henson: Playing Benjamin’s adoptive mother Queenie, Taraji (hopefully) is starting to get some of the crossover respect she rightfully deserves.  She was named one of Variety’s “10 Actors to Watch” this year, but if you’ve seen Baby Boy, Talk to Me, or Hustle and Flow to name a few, you’ve known for awhile the sister can act.  She hasn’t had a true ‘headliner’ role just yet, but somebody smart will give her the chance.

Cate Blanchett: She’s already got an Oscar to back it up, but a quick recap of her recent roles, shall we?  A convincing Katherine Hepburn (the Aviator), a convincing Bob Dylan (I’m Not There), and in this film she goes from playing a young ballerina in her 20s to a dying woman on her deathbed, with all the various ages in between.  I’m personally more of a Kate Winslet fan, but this woman right here is why Kate doesn’t have an Oscar.  For my money I’d say she’s the most talented actor in the game right now, male or female.

Brad Pitt:  More than ever, I’d say to succeed in this Industry you have to know how to play to your strengths and know your ‘brand’ (this message brought to you by malikaziz.com).  Is Brad Pitt one of the best actors in the game today?  Eh…  Is he one of, if not the best movie star in the world today?  Well, you tell me.  Paparazzi target?  (Check.)  Movie star girlfriend? (Check.)  ‘Good guy’ image? (Check.)  In Benjamin Button, Pitt plays the title character as more of an observer to his life instead of a catalyst.  He uses a slight Southern accent, but not strong enough to be distracting.  Can Brad play over the top?  Sure (the slightly underrated Snatch, Exhibit A.)  But playing to his strengths means playing to his looks and not trying to do too much.  I don’t know if he was the Best Actor of 2008, but I won’t complain too loud if he does end up winning. 

The movie runs 3 hours, and was written by the same guy who wrote Forrest Gump.  As I was watching this, that movie came to mind more than a few times.  If you’re looking for a traditional ‘David Fincher’ film (Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac), um, you might want to sit this one out.  But it’s a nice family film, a decent holiday film. When Hollywood does big budget right.  Overall, PROPS for this one from me.