Here’s a look at an interesting new release available to rent from cable and digital providers and a few titles that have recently hit streaming services.
Video on Demand
“Hidden Figures”: Recently nominated for best picture and best adapted screenplay at the Academy Awards, this riveting drama sheds light on women who had never gotten the recognition they deserved for their place in history. In the early 1960s, a group of African-American female mathematicians were working in a segregated office at a NASA research center in Virginia doing the calculations that would help launch our astronauts successfully into space. Taraji P. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, a woman who successfully charted the trajectories of many early NASA missions including the moon landing. Octavia Spencer earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Dorothy Vaughan, who became the first female African-American supervisor at NASA. The always dynamic Janelle Monae also stars as Mary Jackson, who fought her way into advanced engineering classes to work her way up in the space program. A solid supporting cast includes Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, who co-starred with Monae in “Moonlight.” At the end of the day, this may be a fairly conventional biopic, but we could use more uplifting and inspirational stories right about now. (Cable and digital VOD)
Also on streaming services
“In A World…”: Lake Bell wrote, directed, and stars in this charming independent comedy about Carol. a vocal coach whose father is on the cusp of earning a lifetime achievement award for his voice-over work on movie trailers. She has always wanted to break into that world but has been overshadowed by her dad’s work. Through a bizarre turn of events, Carol gets the chance to audition to do the voice-over for a huge Hollywood blockbuster’s trailer, which could change everything. Also starring comedians Demetri Martin, Tig Notaro and Nick Offerman, this is a sleeper hit that deserves to find a larger audience at home. (Amazon)
“Kubo and the Two Strings”: The creative team behind “Coraline” and “ParaNorman” have created another stop-motion masterpiece. Travis Knight’s directorial debut tells the story of a young boy in feudal Japan who cares for his sickly mother and uses fanciful origami to tell stories about his missing samurai father to the local villagers. Kubo ends up on a trek to face his evil grandfather, who once plucked out his left eye. An epic story of good versus evil, it may prove a little too scary for kids younger than 8. The voice cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, George Takei and Rooney Mara. This is only the second ever animated film to be nominated for a best visual effects Academy Award. (Netflix)