If you’ve been following this site, then you would have known that Hidden Figures has already been reviewed on this site. For a deeper analysis, I recommend you read Josh Tarpley’s earlier review. I won’t be doing a full on review per se but since it is a big film, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on it. I liked it slightly more than he did.
This film has been gaining a lot of momentum as of late, winning awards and putting itself in the conversation come Oscar time. Up until this point, the 3 big movies this year, and the likely Oscar winners, have been La La Land, Moonlight, and Manchester by the Sea. They will probably still be but Hidden Figures has a strong chance to be an upset winner for Best Picture. I would not be upset if that happened.
The story is about a team of African-American women mathematicians (Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae) who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program. The film was about the beginnings of the U.S. space program through the eyes of these women and their experiences. Because of this, the film lived or died based on how compelling these characters were.
These women were underdogs in many ways. They were black and they were women, two things that weren’t widely accepted at the time. They had to deal with both racism and sexism in working their way to positions of prominence within the program. Each woman was likable and relatable and their struggles felt real which made it easy for us to root for them even though we knew that they would eventually succeed.
It was also interesting to learn the inner working of the space program, at least back then. I had no idea how much math was actually involved. If you love math, then you’ll love this film. If you’re not as good at math, you may be confused but that’s not the point.
The film was about the journey of these three women and for the most part, it worked. Instead of focusing on the social issues of the time, they focused on the characters themselves which was the right decision. The chemistry between Henson, Spencer, and Monae made their relationship believable and made them fun to watch. Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, and Kirsten Dunst were also good in supporting roles. The music was also worth mentioning. Despite taking place in the 1960s, it still felt fresh and contemporary. There was just something about it that made you feel good.
As far as Oscar nominations are concerned, it got nominated for Best Supporting Actress (for Octavia Spencer), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture. Henson and Monae were great here and both Oscar-worthy but both categories are crowded with Oscar-worthy performances so it was understandable that they were left out here. Costner also had some buzz for his performance but the omission was understandable. The other sort of snub was in the Best Original Song category for the song “Runnin”. Some believe the score was also snubbed but the only part that was memorable was “Runnin”. It was just weird that La La Land had two songs in the category and that “Runnin” was left out.
Overall, this was a great drama, featuring a compelling story and characters with great performances from Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae.
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