King Richard and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green
Well Concussion didn’t get him an Oscar, so now it’s time for Will Smith to get back on that horse and work his butt off in a drama to try and get the Academy’s attention! To me though, his movies where he went chasing that Oscar gold are some of his least interesting. I still need to see Ali at some point so perhaps that’s the exception that proves the rule, but for my money, his best work in recent years have been in his more action-heavy features like Gemini Man and Bad Boys For Life which on the surface seem like run of the mill popcorn flicks but have quite a bit of depth to them that allow Smith to really stretch those acting muscles. Sadly this doesn’t seem to be one of those as I’m pretty sure Serena and Venus didn’t moonlight as secret agents, but the trailers look promising and Smith is definitely putting his all into the role. Is this the film to finally get Will the award he’s been seeking, or is this just another piece of Oscar Bait Pablum that we’ll all forget about by next year? Let’s find out!!
Richard Williams (Will Smith) is the proud patriarch of the Williams family in Compton California. He has a loving wife (Aunjanue Ellis) as well as five daughters; two of whom are Venus and Serena (Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton) who will become two of the greatest tennis players of all time. That’s not just me saying that because I know the history, that’s Richard’s plan from the day they were born; to teach them to be strong, smart, and well-rounded women, while also training them relentlessly to become tennis superstars. He has to knock on a lot of doors, ruffle a few feathers, and take on many jobs to keep this plan on track, but come hell or high water they WILL succeed and become the best there ever was! Of course, with such a narrowly focused vision, he’s bound to miss some things along the way; not just the people showing him the path to success, but his own family who are certainly behind this dream but are the last people to hear about what the next step in the plan is. Is this strong-willed approach from Richard just covering up his own insecurities about himself, or is the system so corrupt that he has to forge his own path for his girls? What will the tennis world do in response to these two out of nowhere prodigies showing up on the scene, and can Venus and Serena live up to the lofty expectations of their family? Are we sure this movie was written by Richard Williams himself? It just seems like something the character in this movie would end up writing.
Hidden Figures and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Theodore Melfi
FINALLY! How long did we get trailers for this movie before they finally settled on a release date in January of all months!? Well better late than never I suppose, and there’s been some seriously strong buzz prior to its nationwide release, so maybe the months of this trailer popping up in front of EVERY MOVIE will be worth it unlike other heavily promoted movies like The Secret Life of Pets. Remember how many times they showed THAT trailer? Almost ruined Downtown for me. ANYWAY!! Will this be a great way to start off this already rough year, or will this end up being a bigger let down than the Constellation program? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins in 1961 with three human computers (those were a thing apparently) who work at NASA but don’t quite get the credit they deserve for their work due almost entirely to them being women of color. Our intrepid heroes are Katherine Goble (Taraji P Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), and they all get their chances to prove themselves once the government is gung ho about escalating the Space Race to beat the Russians to the moon! Well… sort of. Katherine gets assigned as a temp for the SUPER math department working with Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) who is an amalgam of three real NASA directors from that period of time, and Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons) who is completely made up and pretty much just symbolic of crappy people that Katherine had to deal with. Of course, she gets the grunt work, has to run to the colored restrooms (that was still a thing at the time) and was even given a separate coffee pot to use, despite the fact that she can number crunch circles around her coworkers. Meanwhile, Dorothy is trying to get in on the ground floor of computing as the new IBMs are gonna make the human computers irrelevant at some point, and Mary is trying to be a full time engineer at NASA but is constantly hit with discriminatory roadblocks that make it that much harder for her to achieve her dreams. None of that’s gonna stop ANY of these women though, as they’re smarter than everyone else and are out there to prove it! Will they be able to get a proper seat at the table as everyone is working towards the launch of Freindship 7 and in doing so ensure that John Glenn makes it back to Earth safely!? Well… okay, we KNOW that part considering he was still around as recently as a month ago, but that doesn’t make the journey any less compelling to watch!
Fences and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Denzel Washington
So what we have is one of the most respected black actors making a film based off of a multiple award winning stage play in a year where the Academy is looking for ANY film to try and make up for OSCAR SO WHITE. Well, since Birth of a Nation turned out to be underwhelming and Moonlight being under the radar for most, chances are that Denzel’s big film of the year is gonna be a HUGE winner come the end of February. Still, being ripe Oscar bait doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a GOOD movie (*cough* The King’s Speech *cough*), and there are plenty of films that won awards that no one cared about even a year later (*cough* Chariots of Fire *cough*). Is this one of those that exists solely to maximize Oscar wins, or is there more beneath the surface what with the immense talent in front of and behind the camera? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about the Maxson family; primarily the patriarch breadwinner Troy (Denzel Washington), his loving yet firms wife Rose (Viola Davis), and their son Cory (Jovan Adepo). The family lives a comfortable if somewhat tiring life in the Pittsburg suburbs where Troy spends five days a week hauling garbage and the other two days complaining that he never got his shot to play baseball professionally. Naturally, he’s the kind of guy who makes sure that EVERYONE knows what he could have been if he wasn’t such a gosh darn loving and responsible father, and this attitude starts to get him into more and more trouble as the play goes along; including when his son is given a shot to go to college on a football scholarship that he isn’t too keen on letting him accept. Will this man’s bitterness and resentment towards the world lead to his family (including his son from another family Lyons played by Russell Horsnby and his brother Gabriel who suffered brain damage during the war played by Mykelti Willamson) to finally turn their back on him no matter how many meals his paycheck gives them? What else is he getting up to that neither he nor his best friend Jim Bono (Stehen McKinley Henderson) aren’t too keen on talking about? Just how much screen time is too much for Denzel!?