Hidden Figures (2016): adapted by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi from the non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly; directed by Theodore Melfi; starring Taraji P. Henson (Katherine Johnson/Goble), Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan), Janelle Monae (Mary Jackson), Kevin Costner (Al Harrison), Kirsten Dunst (Vivian Mitchell), Jim Parsons (Paul Stafford), and Glen Powell (John Glenn):
How does Taraji P. Henson NOT get a nomination for this? Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer) and Best Adapted Screenplay have been given to this fine docudrama. Does it play fast and loose with history, especially in compressing 15 years worth of events into two years? Well, yeah. So, too, so many other docudramas and biopics.
But Hidden Figures presents the Space Race as a thrilling exercise in math, engineering, and race relations. How great is that? The acting is superb, from Kevin Costner’s (composite) team leader of NASA Langley’s mathematicians striving to put an American in space and in orbit to the aforementioned Henson as pioneering NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, the African-American mathematician who helped put Americans into orbit and on the Moon.
Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae also do terrific work as an African-American computer-team leader and engineer, respectively. It’s a movie about the thrill of intelligence and lofty aspirations, dominated by women. Highly recommended.