I try to see as many of the nominated movies as I can before Oscar Night rolls around. So far, I have seen two movies and both were biopics from times that I personally remember.
First, I saw Hidden Figures which was about the lives of three brave African-American women who worked behind the scenes at the height of the NASA Space Program. Katherine Jackson, played by Taraji P. Henson, takes center stage because she has a wonderful knack for solving mathematical equations.
She is good with the numbers, trigonometry and physics which were necessary for creating timely take-offs and landings of the astronauts. She met and worked with the engineers as they put people like Alan Shepherd and John Glenn into space.
One of the other women, Dorothy Vaughn, played by Octavia Spencer, excelled in programming the new IBM machine and finally became a new supervisor. Mary Jackson, played by Jonelle Monae, went on to become an engineer for NASA. She had to go through the courts to get rights to attend an all-white school where the courses were being taught. This was during segregation in Virginia during the early 60’s.
I was telling a young woman in the theatre that I had lived while those historic events were taking place and we were glued to the television just like the kids in the movie. Whenever, there was a rocket launch, time stood still and we watched in awe. Sometimes, we watched as a whole student body in the school auditorium. It was a memorable time!
I also saw the movie, Jackie. It was a new take on her life and focused on her first week as a young widow. She had flashbacks of the assassination when she and President Kennedy were riding in the open-top limousine on that tragic day in Dallas.
She struggled to make the funeral arrangements and ultimately decided to model it on President Lincoln’s ceremony. She worked through many details and she also recalled her successful televised tour of The White House in 1961 as they packed to leave there. She realized that she and her two young children had to move to another residence and make way for the incoming Johnson family.
Jackie had the difficult task of telling her children that their father would not be coming home. Her wonderful priest, played by John Hurt, allowed her to voice her misgivings, her pain and her wavering faith. She eventually found the will to live, go forward and raise her small children.
It was definitely a walk down memory lane for me. Natalie Portman did a fine job of portraying the former First Lady. Peter Sarsgaard was quite convincing in his role as Bobby Kennedy; but the Danish actor, Caspar Phillipson, who played JFK, looked so much like him that it was simply unbelievable.
Both movies left me thinking deeply. I did hours of fact-checking about all of these historic figures when I got home. I researched and read and researched and read until I felt a sense of satisfaction.
Then, I neatly tucked those precious memories away and gently closed the door knowing that I would happily share what I remember with the younger ones who want to know.
Lynn M. January 14, 2017