The Movie: Hidden Figures
The Director: Theodore Melfi
The Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell, Kimberly Quinn, Olek Krupa, Kurt Krause, Saniyya Sidney, and Ron Clinton Smith.
The Story: Based on a true story. A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program's first successful space missions. - IMDB.com
If you want to see good acting, then you've come to the right place. The three women who star in this film are each pretty phenomenal and the supporting cast is very solid across the board. It was very interesting to see how they each dealt with the personal struggles their characters went through on a daily basis when it came to just being a human being. Theodore Melfi, in adapting Margot Lee Shetterly's book, fills his film with a ton of emotionally powerful moments as the women of the story force their way into formerly forbidden territory and change the course of American history forever. It's amazing this story has never been told before although the timing now seems to be just right as the three leading ladies are absolutely spot on perfect for this film.
Taraji P Henson has been a mainstay on network television for years with a recent resurgence to prime time leading lady status with her work on Empire although her performance in this film might just elevate her career even farther. The range of emotion she shows is, at times, breathtaking and, at other times, heartbreaking and she shows an underlying strength that defines who Katherine Johnson really was. There is one moment in particular where she grabs a much needed cup of coffee and, in the span of about five seconds, shows us the joy of having the coffee, the shock of her co-workers looking at her for having poured the coffee, the fear and realization that she was not being looked at as a human being, the anger of this slap-in-the-face reality check, the disgust of what the cup of coffee now represented to her, and finally resignation that, no matter what she does, she is going to be looked down upon by everyone around her for no other reason than the color of her skin. To be able to convey all of that was absolutely brilliant and, for me, became a defining moment of the struggle and heartache that made this such an important story to tell.
Octavia Spencer has been in so many movies lately and that is absolutely a good thing. Her personality and demeanor are made for big stories on the big screen and she is always a delight to watch in whatever role she is playing. As Dorothy Vaughan, she embodies the strength and courage of a person who deserves more than what the world around her is willing to offer and she handles every moment with the compassion and grace of a woman who has been continuously humbled by the industry she works in. I have been a fan of Janelle Monáe as a singer for quite a while now. She has a very unique and confidant style that is just so catchy and endearing although I had no idea these same skills and ideals would translate to her talents as an actress as well. Thanks to her performance, Mary Jackson shines as a force to be reckoned with, an unstoppable force, and a tried and true fiend to those she cares about.
Hidden Figures is an entertaining movie, it is a powerful story, and it is a shining example of what can be accomplished when racial and societal barriers are pushed aside in favor of progress and equality. Henson, Spencer, and Monáe are a collective force to be reckoned with much like the historic figures they have worked so hard to put on screen. Go see this movie as soon as you can. On a side note, Jim Parsons' pants deserve an award for highest waistline of the year.