Can a lady get some credit around here?
The United States is in a race against Russian to put a man on the moon. NASA hires a handful of African American women but no matter how hard they work, they're still stuck in the basement. Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) is a math genius who is given an assignment to work under Al Harrison. (Kevin Costner) She's the smartest person in the room, but her white male colleagues give her zero credit and welcome her with a "colored coffee pot" instead when she dares use theirs. The man she works with the most, Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons) frequently treats her like a secretary instead of an equal. Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) works in engineering, but she doesn't get the title of an engineer because the courses she needs are only offered at an all white school. Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) does all the work of a supervisor without the title or the pay. We watch these extraordinary women defy the odds and triumph in a world that's stacked against them.
Hidden Figures is an appropriate title. It's embarrassing to say that I had never heard of their stories before seeing a preview for this film. This is yet another reason why I love movies. They shine light on important things that I've missed.
I found myself getting so irritated at everyone in this film that wasn't Doorthy, Mary, or Katherine. Every time a door is slammed in their face, or they were treated with the bare minimum of respect, or when they have to run half a mile to use "their" bathroom, my heart ached. Even knowing I would get that eventual happy ending watching the behavior of some of the characters in this film was just gross. Seriously, every time Jim Parson's character opened his mouth...
Taraji is a breathtaking lead. I wish more people were talking about her in the best actress race. Monae and Spencer also give excellent performances. Kevin Costner was actually tolerable and it's nice to see Parsons play someone very different from Sheldon Cooper. Mahershala Ali is also a welcomed presence in a small role.
It's a very formulaic film, but backed with an amazing ensemble and a great message, Hidden Figures rises above the normal biopic standards. I wanted to cry tears of joy when it was over just seeing what these women accomplished.
Memorable Quote: "God forbid anyone get in the way of Mary Jackson's dreams, myself included." - Levi Jackson (Aldis Hodge)