Nominated for three Oscars, Hidden Figures is not a movie to be ignored.
Set in the early 1960s during the height of the Space Race, the based-on-true-events movie stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe as Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, respectively, who are all women working at NASA in Hampton, Virginia as assistant mathematicians called computers. The film follows their struggle as women of color wanting to move up in their field and get the jobs that they are capable of. All this while trying to get the late astronaut John Glenn into space to fulfill his orbital mission.
The strongest part of the movie was the entirety of the cast. All actors involved were a perfectly working team in the ensemble, all of them holding the production up and none of them pulling it down. The actors who shined the most were the three leading actresses, especially Taraji P. Henson, who is also famous for her TV show Empire, and it is a shock to me that she was not nominated for an Oscar and has received very few accolades for her role. I was also impressed by Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of her character, Vivian Michael, who was a supervisor to all the women computers working at NASA. The character wanted increased rights and opportunities for women, but ignored the struggle of the African American women, which nowadays is called white feminism. Kirsten Dunst was able to play this character with perfectly acted unironic hypocrisy.
The next greatest thing about the movie was the overall production. The costumes were exquisite. Every single dress worn by the actresses were perfectly in tuned to the time period but were not deathly to look at with the 21st century eye. I would gladly go out and buy most every dress and pantsuit worn by the leading ladies. It was the same with the movie’s soundtrack, which featured songs by Pharrell Williams, famous for his song “Happy.” The music fit the time period well but was also modern enough to enjoy. It was nominated for a Golden Globe and won an African-American Film Critics Association award for best song, but sadly not an Oscar.
What was nominated for an Oscar, however, may have been the best part of Hidden Figures: the screenplay.The screenwriters, Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, famous for writing Mean Girls 2 and St. Vincent, respectively, did an amazing job showcasing the everyday and work lives of these three women and what they had to do to move forward in their careers and their lives. Their writing was able to show all sides of the characters as well as showcase the effects of segregation and racism on the characters, such as how Katherine had to run to the other side of the campus everyday to get to a colored women’s restroom. Showing this trivial, yet demoralizing obstacle shows the true effects of segregation.
Despite its serious message and material, this is a perfect movie for the whole family, old and young. In the theatre, there was an old married couple on my right and a group of five little boys to my left. In this day and age, this is a very needed movie, where women of color are finally celebrated for the history they were never recognized for. As my mom put it on her Facebook page, “Take your daughters! Take your sons!”