I don’t know how, but I’ve somehow managed to pull it off, watch every single Best Picture Nominated Feature despite the trappings of boarding school in a tiny town in New England. Hidden Figures being the last one I essentially binge-watched, I must state that I was honestly kind of sick of watching these types of films one after the other, but despite my bored state of mind I must admit Hidden Figures was an absolute delight.
Hidden Figures follows the story of three black female mathematicians who allowed astronaut John Glenn reach space, thrusting us forward in the space race against the USSR. Obviously, there were a myriad of obstacles these women unfairly had to endure, such as the fact that Mrs. Vaughan (Spencer) had been working the job of a supervisor despite not receiving the pay or title of one, Mary Jackson (Monáe) has to fight the justice system in order to go to an all-white’s school because it’s the only way she’ll ever be able to gain the position of engineer and our protagonist, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), who is simply referred to as a computer in her work-space where she’s surrounded by white-males and forced to run 1/2 a mile everyday just to go to the bathroom.
The irony is as clear as water, NASA is trying to accomplish the impossible despite being subservient to the illogical. They complain about their test-rockets continuously failing yet they restrict they’re best engineers and mathematicians simply because of the color of their skin. When you boil it all down, there’s no other words to describe it besides silly and unfair, which is where the triumph factor comes into Hidden Figures. Watching this film you probably already know how it’s going to end, but it’s still a joy-ride nonetheless. The fact that these hidden figures are being displayed on-screen is already something to rejoice, and the fact that they’re story is being told in such an excellent fashion is just another reason to smile.
As for the main players I mentioned earlier, they’re all played with a sense of quiet feminism, except for Monáe’s Mary Jackson who’s definitely the loud-mouth of the group. Surely the depiction is somewhat cartoony at times such as when Henson presses her glasses towards her forehead like a stereotypical geek. Besides that the performances are quite good, Henson commanding Katherine Johnson’s wit over anything else, Spencer showcasing the audacity of Mrs. Vaughan and as I mentioned previously, Monáe serving as the activist of the group, the brave force willing to stand-up for what is right. On that note, I also find it incredible that both films Monáe starred in as her debut films ended up nominated for the Oscar’s, plus they also starred the always classy Mahershala Ali. Kevin Costner also has a great supporting role in this film and although at times it seems like he’s just there to get Johnson out of difficult situations, the screenwriter intelligently decided to not make that the case and instead make Costner’s Al Harrison main focus be his job which leads him to do what is right as ultimate fulfillment of launching a man into space.
In the end, Hidden Figures is a triumph that highlights the need for equality. Theodore Melfi directs a story that needed to be told and gets some great performances out of his main trio. Speaking of that trio, they command the screen with a quiet intelligence that more films need. The film’s a delight, it’s a cheery and well-acted film with an important message worth spreading which is simply worth the recognition it will garner from Oscar- viewership merely based on the themes and messages it focuses on.