Posted: Friday, January 6, 2017 – 12:56 PM
By Adam Sherman
This year marked the closest a woman has come to becoming president of the United States of America. And the media tended to reflect it as well, with shows like Supergirl and Homeland establishing their own Madame Presidents. And Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s titular Veep made a grab for the Oval Office. In addition, Wonder Woman made her cinematic debut, and Jessica Chastain’s Miss Sloane made waves in the critical circuit.
The new film Hidden Figures is another fine example of female empowerment.
Hidden Figures focuses on the story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), and her colleagues, Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe); these three African-American women who proved instrumental to helping NASA catch up with the Soviets during the Space Race, and helped make the (now sadly) departed John Glenn into the first American astronaut to make a complete orbit around the globe.
Producer, co-writer and director Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent) does an excellent job presenting exactly what NASA was like during the height of one of the most vital parts of the Cold War. Even as the country tries to beat Russia in the Space Race, it still has a lot of racial issues to tackle. These issues are presented both matter-of-factly (via Dorothy and Mary’s attempts to learn more from white institutions in order to better assist their country) and via personification (as seen through Jim Parsons’ Paul Stafford, and his initial disdain for Katherine). It can come off as a bit too on-the-nose at times, but in a world where White Nationalism is getting a resurgence, America could use a reminder of the people who suffer from it.
Overall, Hidden Figures stands a solid chance at bringing in some awards – especially when it comes to Henson, who stands out as the second woman I could see walking away with Best Actress, come the Oscars (the first is Emily Blunt for The Girl on the Train).
In short, go see this movie. Now.
Hidden Figures will be released nationwide on January 7.