“Hidden Figures” explores three themes that resonate well with modern audiences: Racial equality, women’s rights, and gender equality in the workplace. It is no surprise that this film has received rave reviews but I like to think that its warm reception is a result of the solid execution of a true story, not just because of its statements on race and gender. The story of Katherine Goble Johnson is nothing less than miraculous and is sure to inspire you. The film sets the scene with the prodigious math skills of a young elementary student. Her hopeful future is quickly blended with the challenges of racism and gender discrimination in 1960’s Virginia. The trio of leading ladies, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe have the perfect combination of spunk and poise to take on these challenges and each win their own individual battle. It is easy to see an Oscar nomination coming to one or more of them during tomorrow morning’s announcement. The underrated performance in this film comes from Kevin Costner as the director of the Space Task Group. His role in breaking down the barriers of segregation drives the plot just as much as the female leads. The cast also includes Kirsten Dunst (who I barely even recognized after several years since her last role in a blockbuster), Jim Parsons (who provides the necessary levity in this otherwise harsh environment), and Mahershala Ali (who I love in “House of Cards” but left me unimpressed, especially in an Oscar season that has him as a frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor in “Moonlight”). While the film is dominated by the aforementioned themes, I was quite taken by its portrayal of technology replacing human jobs. I’m sure that everyone else had the same epiphany when they realized that “computers” were initially referencing the human workers who compute numbers and then later referred to the machines that can now do that work. “Hidden Figures” successfully tackles several issues related to racism and gender equality, but I love it for its impressive acting, well-written script, and success in transporting us back to this often untold moment in US history. Oh yeah, and of course for the incredibly clever double meaning of its title!
[Pictured: There are parts when it is hard to believe that this story is actually true! It is amazing to see the resiliency of these characters and their moments of retribution, like here where they meet John Glenn.]