Hidden Figures (2016)

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Meet the Women you don't know, but the mission you do.
 Hidden Figures is directed by Theodore Melfi (St Vincent) and stars Taraji P. Henson (Empire, Person of Interest), Octavia Spencer (The Help, The Divergent Series) and Janelle Monae (Moonlight, Rio 2). "The story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program".  After a big win at the SAG awards, Hidden Figures became an even bigger awards contender. Is Hidden Figures Best Picture worthy or is it overrated Oscar bait?


I had extremely high expectations for Hidden Figures - it has been on my radar for quite some time so when my friend got free tickets to an early screening of the film, there was no debate - we were going. Hidden Figures wasn't as amazing as I hoped but it was still very good - I had slight issues with the pace and I think it was much more subtle than I was expecting. This is a film based on real history so it should be expected that these people have to go through a lot of bad before they get to the good - the struggle is frustrating and upsetting to watch. Everyone should be equal! A film like Hidden Figures proves just how far we have come, even though we do have very far to go. 

Hidden Figures rightfully won the award for Best Ensemble at the SAG awards because the cast is absolutely brilliant. I am a fan of Taraji P. Henson - she is terrific in Empire and I've always wanted to see her get more work and finally she has landed herself in a role where she really succeeds. Henson depicts Katherine G. Johnson - a single mother who is skilled at maths - this woman must have been a real life Matilda because she is so clever! Henson's performance is fantastic and I think was my favourite, I cared most for her character. All three women in this film are incredibly inspirational - Johnson is a remarkable woman and it just shocks me that her story has not been told until now - she played a crucial part in the mission. Octavia Spencer has landed an Oscar nomination for her work in this film and it is definitely deserved but I would have happily gave that nomination to one of the other ladies instead. Spencer does what Spencer does best in this role. She plays Dorothy Vaughan - another very important person and it was great to see the characters ark of finally getting to become supervisor at the end of the film. Finally, Janelle Monae - I haven't seen Monae's work before but she has definitely left a good impression on me after Hidden Figures. Monae portrays her character as smart, sassy and strong - she knows what she wants in life. Mary Jackson is another important woman who's story was yet to be told and I think this film does her justice. All 3 women deserve awards for their performances - they all play strong and empowered females and do it terrifically. One of the characters in the film says something along the lines of 'a win for one of us is a win for all of us' so I think if Octavia Spencer wins or if the film wins in the other two categories it is nominated, everyone involved should be happy as this really was a group effort and it wouldn't have been as good if something was done differently. 

Usually in films like this, the leads are that good that everyone else comes across as pretty weak. However, I thought the supporting cast were all very good. Kevin Costner, Mahershala Ali, Glen Powell and Kirsten Dunst were all fantastic. The only member of the ensemble that was subpar was Jim Parsons - I don't know if this was because his character is very unlikeable but he just wasn't on the same level as the rest of the cast. 

The story of Hidden Figures isn't one that is filled with twists and turns - it's based on real life! I think it is really important that this film was made to highlight these stories that should be known that we did not know. I thought the film was much more subtle than it could have been and that's one thing I might have changed - I would have gone full throttle, giving you heartfelt and honest monologues a lot of the time just to show how much it meant to these people. However, I think there was a reason Hidden Figures wasn't made like this - yes, these may be black women but I think the film is trying to say that that is not the most important factor. At the heart, this is a story about unity, people coming together and successful teamwork - just human beings, we are all the same and we can all work together. The story was also pretty slow - not tediously slow but I think less time could have been spent on Johnson's romance and more on the work that was going on at NASA. For example, I think Mary Jackson's story could have been told a little more. There is also a message in the film about the importance of being first - I think this is a very important message - if there is something you want to do that seems impossible because nobody else is doing it, go and do it - you'll be remembered and feel proud because you did that, you were first. 

Hidden Figures is a very important film. This has to be the first film in a long time that has black leads where the story is not about slavery or the other usual stories that get told. White characters have had stories told about a much larger variety of subjects so it is about time a film like this is made. This is brilliant for Black actors and actresses - no longer do they have to play the same roles, Hidden Figures' critical and box office performance proves that people are interested in these important stories, regardless of ethnicity. Hidden Figures may personify it's own message of 'being first' because I think we're going to get to see many more films that have black leads that are not about slavery thanks to this. Hidden Figures is also very important for the world we are living in right now - without getting too political, the world really needs a film that has the message of unity at the heart of it right now. This is an example of what happens when we put aside our differences and work together - success. 

I really liked Hidden Figures - it was inspirational, light-hearted at times and important. I would compare it to a film like Hairspray which tackles issues to do with race but brings people together. Hidden Figures also has comedic elements and is very funny. Hidden Figures does have its moments where you will get goosebumps - when Johnson finally stands up to her colleagues about having to travel a ridiculous amount to just go to the toilet, one of the best moments in the film, one of the most powerful and excellently delivered by Henson - even more so because as the audience, we know that this isn't right and needs to change. 

Hidden Figures is a very good film that I would be happy to see walk away with all the Oscars. I have my problems with the film such as pacing and it not being as powerful as it could be. However, saying that, there are some key moments which are powerful and inspirational - I just wish that was a key theme and tone throughout. The performances are all brilliant and I hope everyone involved gets lots more work from this. Hidden Figures' message is incredibly important and timely - you should see it just for that reason. Hidden Figures is a feel good, inspirational, pretty powerful and interesting film - it's amazing that we never knew about these people before. They are Hidden Figures no more and rightfully so. 

81
/100

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