La La Land was feel-good (soul-clensingly so), Lion was heartwrenching (still crying), Moonlight was revolutionary (okay, so I’m told, it hasn’t made its way to my local multiplex yet), Manchester by the Sea was divisive (and in my opinion one of the worst films I have ever seen), and Hidden Figures, like its title, is overlooked. Despite being the film that knocked Rogue One out of the charts as well receiving plenty of Oscar nods among its serious acclaim, it hasn’t quite punched through the public consciousness.

Full of fiesty humour, style in its colouring, costuming, music, and very effective performances balanced across its ensemble cast, Hidden Figures is a properly feel-good story. Not in the same way that a simplistic comedy lets you switch off, this takes you to the heart of an interesting and unique part of global history, shows you the truth, and lets you make your mind up about its importance.Katherine Goble (Taraji P Henson), Dorthy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Jenelle Monáe) are computers (mathematicians) working at NASA (the space agency that Trump’s going to stop funding if he sees this movie). Katherine is promoted to a temporary position in the Space Task Group’s main programme, calculating the necessary information to get American humans safely into space, under the directorship of Al Harrison (Kevin Costner doing an impression of Tom Hanks). She has to do her job despite being the first woman of colour to work in the building, meaning that by the time she’s back from the nearest loo she’s allowed into, 40 miles away, the rest of her colleagues have had time to install some racism, having realized how rude it was

Katherine Goble (Taraji P Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Jenelle Monáe) are computers (mathematicians) working at NASA (the space agency that Trump’s going to stop funding if he sees this movie). Katherine is promoted to a temporary position in the Space Task Group’s main programme, calculating the necessary information to get American humans safely into space, under the directorship of Al Harrison (Kevin Costner doing an impression of Tom Hanks). She has to do her job despite being the first woman of colour to work in the building, meaning that by the time she’s back from the nearest loo she’s allowed into, 40 miles away, the rest of her colleagues have had time to install some racism, having realized how rude it was of them not to be prepared with segregated kettles, etc. Every task she undertakes in her efforts to do her job and prove her abilities are given extra layers.

Vaugh and Jackson have their own quests, becoming the first woman to be able to programme and therefore lead projects on an IBM computer, and to become a qualified engineer to be able to do projects that Vaughn’s colleagues want her to do, but keeps being blocked from. We also get a lot of time with their personal lives and Goble’s accidental romance with with Jim Johnson (Mahershala Ali), a military captain who goes on his own arc of learning some respect. Quite a lot happens in Hidden Figures, all of it speeding with a real sense of pace, all of it interesting, most of it with a sense of humour. Every scene with a joke is balanced with a scene with a battle for the multiple levels of equality being fought for. Every scene with maths is balanced with a scene exploring the politics. None of it feels constructed, but natural.

Not everything is perfect. Jim Parsons continues to confuse the people writing him paychecks and the rest of us that haven’t been drawn in by his ability to not make eye contact sometimes. Its fair to say that a lot of the plot hinges on Katherine’s excellent mathematical abilities, but we never really get to see them explored or explained. You know those law dramas where the men in suits start shouting ‘quick get me the ammendment and use the law to sort this!’ ? There are scenes where we’re told important science is happening, told what it is called, told it hasn’t been solved before, then told Katherine can solve it without any kind of explanation. Investment in a character musn’t just be because of their overcoming of advertisity, but perhaps in understanding how they solved a problem.

However, both of my visits to Hidden Figures were joyous. You come out feeling a better person, like you’ve learnt something, like you always knew it to be true, and like anything in the world can be solved if you try hard enough. A period history piece about diversity in NASA beat a Star Wars movie at the box office after all.

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