Hidden Figures is the little known story of 3 African-American women who are working at NASA during the space race of the 1960s, a time of great prejudice against both people of colour and women.
The film focuses on the stories of Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe). Goble is a mathematician, know as computers, who gets drafted into help check the ever changing numbers of the take off and reentry of the space shuttles. Vaughn is the unofficial supervisor of the segregated West Area Computers division who worries about them becoming obsolete with the introduction of new high-powered computers. And Jackson wants to work as an Engineer, and has to fight segregation in order to qualify for NASA’s engineering program. The film also features Kevin Costner and Jim Parsons as NASA engineers, Kirsten Dunst as the supervisor who assigns work to the Computers, and Mahershala Ali as a love interest for.
It’s always great to see a story that isn’t well known, but deserves to be, brought to the screen. And I this is a really great story that definitely deserves to be told. It’s a celebration of these women, and takes some artistic liberties with the timeline of events to do this in a slightly more cinematic way, but it still gets to the core of the film, how these women were pioneers in their field. It shows how they’ve had to struggle against the culture of oppression at the time to get where they wanted, and as a result, how these women made huge strides tackling that culture. What is so good about Hidden Figures is that it managed to do this in such a crowd pleasing and entertaining way. The film is really funny at a lot of points throughout, but it still gives you a great sense of these characters and their friendships. The writing is so intelligent and it manages to balance the humour with the emotional success stories of these three women.
Of course the film wouldn’t be much without the performances of Henson, Spencer, and Monáe. All three are absolutely fantastic. Whilst Henson’s character is arguably the lead of the film, all three of them make these characters such well-rounded individuals making you care about all their stories. Whilst it’s Spencer who has garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, any or all of the three could have conceivably been nominated. The supporting cast are all good as well, but its hard to see past the brilliant performances from these three hugely talented women.
Hidden Figures is a brilliantly entertaining, and extremely uplifting film about acceptance and not judging people because they are different in some way. It’s come at an extremely poignant moment in the world, and its message is absolutely one that needs to be heard, and these are people who deserve to be celebrated. The film is funny, feel good, and tremendously acted. It’s really not surprising that this is the most financially successful of the Best Picture nominees in the US.