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Hidden Figures (2016)

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In 42 theaters near Ashburn VA US [change]

Based on a true story. A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program's first successful space missions.

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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 21 wins & 57 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Levi Jackson
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Ruth
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Karl Zielinski
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Sam Turner
Ken Strunk ...
Jim Webb
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Storyline

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Based on the unbelievably true life stories of three of these women, known as "human computers", we follow these women as they quickly rose the ranks of NASA alongside many of history's greatest minds specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and guaranteeing his safe return. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes. Written by 20th Century Fox

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Based on the untold true story See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements and some language | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

6 January 2017 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les figures de l'ombre  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$515,499 (USA) (23 December 2016)

Gross:

$83,710,357 (USA) (20 January 2017)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The set where IBM genius Dorothy Vaughn's house was filmed (where the 3 ladies played cards and danced) was actually an historic house in Atlanta where civil rights legends Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King Jr. met. See more »

Goofs

When Katherine Goble finds her daughters fighting in their bedroom, she settles them down. After they climb into their own beds, the pajamas on the daughter in the middle are askew, then straightened out, then askew, then straightened out again. See more »

Quotes

Levi Jackson: Civil rights ain't always civl.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Timeless: Space Race (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Surrender
Performed by Lalah Hathaway and Pharrell Williams
2016 Columbia
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User Reviews

 
Light for a Movie About Physics
16 January 2017 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Hidden Figures is the inspiring true story of the under-appreciated and undervalued heroes of the space race's formative years. Specifically, the film recalls the various trials and tribulations of mathematician Dorothy Vaughan, engineer Mary Jackson and physicist Katherine G. Johnson all of whom were women, black and working on the Mercury missions. When the film begins they're all working among a pool of colored women whom Johnson once sarcastically dubbed "computers in skirts." Their job was to calculate launch and landing, which according to history was a task all the women of the West Area Computing Unit took on with vigor. As time neared the first American space flights, Johnson gained the support of her colleagues and helped plot navigational charts and develop launch windows for the likes of Alan Shepard, Virgil Grissom and John Glenn.

The accounts of these three women before, during and after Mercury are intrinsically interesting enough to fill up an entire series of movies or at the very least get the three-plus hour Right Stuff (1983) treatment. A cursory look at their lives reveals a parade of stunning accomplishments, a slew of firsts and a treasure trove of women-in-STEM stories that yearn to be told to every young girl with a chemistry set.

Sadly for Johnson (Henson), Vaughan (Spencer) and Jackson (Monae), Hidden Figures is comparatively light, rerouting all its energy from the soul, work and math to being just another cliché-ridden crowd-pleaser. Instead of the stories we need told, the script populates the screen with watered-down cliffnotes and gambles on the cast to give the film's bullet points just enough of a unique flavor. The institutional racism spread throughout sends powerful messages (as often happens in these kinds of movies) but far too many times we get the feeling we're being setup for a cathartic change in the wind instead of feeling the full impact of the institutional racism.

Nor do we face hard truths of its effects. Each of our heroes responds to their plight in different ways. Vaughan uses every resource to make her indispensable, going so far as to learn programming to get leverage over her boss (Dunst). Her tact in getting what she wants is certainly the most enlightened – she learns how to program then she teaches those in her office. Yet her leadership through service always stops at the water's edge. "You don't ask for equal rights, you demand it, you take it," says Jackson's husband (Hodge) right before he's put in his place. Then as if to prove something, Jackson breaks barriers to become an engineer by asking really, really nicely.

Johnson jumps over the pratfalls of institutional racism by simply being smarter than everyone; a distinction Taraji P. Henson wears with quiet dignity until she suddenly doesn't for a brief rain soaked scene that screams Oscar-bait. Because Johnson is so likable a lot is forgiven but at some point I really had to ask myself how many times they were going to compliment her scenes of empowerment with Kevin Costner on autopilot.

That in conjunction with the treacly family and romance scenes involving Mahershala Ali sink this film from being anything more than a feel-good, run-of-the-mill, "boy that racism, so glad that's over" movie. I kid you not, watching this film in a crowded theater and hearing audiences react to every payoff was like witnessing a Pavlovian experiment on complacency in real time. At least Hidden Figures isn't as bad as The Help (2011). It's more like Remember the Titans (2000) for nerds.


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