I haven’t paid any attention to Theodore Melfi‘s Hidden Figures (Fox 2000, 1.13.17), which has to be one of the most unattractive titles of this or any other year. Right away you’re thinking, “I have a sneaking feeling this movie is going to reveal and celebrate these ‘figures’ but is it okay if they stay hidden? No offense. It’s just that I can see the scheme of this thing from a mile away.”
Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer in Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures.
Set in the early ’60s and based on a forthcoming non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly, the film recounts the tale of three African-American women — mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and colleague Mary Jackson — who helped NASA “catch up in the space race.” They are played, respectively, by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe.
Kevin Costner plays the head of NASA who (just guessing here) initially fails to recognize their brilliant calculations but begrudgingly comes to recognize their value to the space program, particularly after they help out big-time with John Glenn’s 1962 orbital flight. Or something like that.
Hidden Figures will be given a limited platform release sometime in December to qualify for awards consideration. This will provide yet another opportunity for guild and Academy members to “get their black on,” as a friend puts it.