Hidden Figures is the incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.
It’s been awhile since I’ve walked out of a movie theater, and not only felt great but also thankful for the movie I just watched. When I first heard about Hidden Figures, it seemed like your average heartwarming, based on a true story type film. That was until it started earning some major category Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress. Soon after I had to see this film for myself, and I’m glad I did because I absolutely loved it!
I never go into movies that are based on a true story looking for a history lesson, but instead to get an understanding of the real life characters and situations. Hidden Figures not only explores the roles three women played towards NASA making history, but also focuses on each individual woman’s motivation to use their gifts to reach their own goals. In the process, they break barriers and pave the way for women during a time of racial tension and inequality. Katherine Goble Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) are such fascinating, gifted, loving women who are given strong portrayals with fearless, determined performances from each of the three leads. By the end of the film, you learn more about who these women are, and not just what they accomplished.
It’s easy to get lost in all the mathematics and technology displayed in this film, but these women make it look easy. There’s are times where I had fun watching each woman overcome obstacles, mainly because of their attitude to a particular situation. Yes, colored women were rarely appreciated and undervalued for the most ridiculous reasons, but Hidden Figures has a lighter tone that makes the film overall heartwarming.
Henson gets the most screen time as Katherine Goble Johnson, and does a fine job portraying a woman struggling to work alongside a team of male mathematicians, because of their distrust in her to fit in. There’s one scene in the movie where she has had enough, and unleashes all that held in stress and anger from being mistreated. It’s the best display of acting in a single moment in the entire film.
Where Henson gets the most screen time, its Spencer as Dorothy Vaughn who gives a scene stealing performance. In a film where every actor and actress is outstanding, she is able to stand above the rest, thus earning her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Speaking of outstanding performances, the supporting cast for Hidden Figures bowls a perfect strike with Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, and Glen Powell. The chemistry between this cast is strong, and each person plays so well off the other. Credit to the director, Theodore Melfi, who does an incredible job overall.
In a year where nine Best Picture Oscar nominations were chosen, Hidden Figures absolutely deserves to be one of them. It’s an important film that highlights what these women accomplished in U.S. history. It’s also an important film for Hollywood in that it’s a film with leading minority actresses, who make the film deserving of the recognition it’s receiving. I’m incredibly thankful that I did not miss this movie in theaters, and I think you’ll feel the same way.
Hidden Figures gets a 9.3 out of 10