Hidden Figures (2016) Review

What an awesome film! This is the story America needs right now. Hidden Figures was a phenomenal movie that I really enjoyed watching. It features a star-studded cast of Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, Mahershala Ali, Kevin Costner, and Kirsten Dunst. Need I say more? So much talent here and they all play off each other very well. All of these actors come together and deliver a compelling performance about the contributions women of color made to the NASA space program. It takes place in the 1960’s during a time when racial tensions were at an all time high.

In 1954, in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional. Yet segregation was still blooming in certain parts of the south like Virginia who did not acknowledge such federal legislation. These attitudes and laws are challenged by three exceptional women. Not only do they decide to not accept the current status quo, but they choose to use their intelligence to combat the ignorance of the time. By doing so they played a pivotal role in providing NASA with the mathematical formulas to launch the first successful space missions.

The pioneers these actresses portrayed were Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson. Three champions for women’s rights and civil rights. These women are all gifted with exceptional calculation prowess that make them important assets to NASA. Yet many of the men  and women there cannot seem to get past the color of their skin. Seeing them as inferior or just as the hired help. That is what makes this film so timeless, because it explores themes that are still relevant today. Although segregation is legally abolished, there are still forms of systemic racism that prevent non-White people from getting jobs. So what is one to do?

Katherine along with her colleagues, Dorothy and Mary, provide the space program with all the answers they need to do something that has never been done. Send a man into space to make a full rotation around the Earth’s orbit. So many powerful monologues in this movie, especially from Taraji. I’m familiar with her work from the TV show Empire and other films, but I didn’t know she could bring the fire like that. Octavia Spencer is a wise elder sharing the information she attains with others. While Janelle Monáe plays the spunky aerospace engineer that fights for her place in history. It was refreshing to see a predominantly Black cast slay the box office. Hidden Figures even beat Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which is no easy accomplishment. Rogue One played in twice as many theaters, had a larger budget, and huge cult following from the past 40 years. I think it goes without saying that this one is a winner. Hidden Figures earns a modest 8/10.

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