Hidden Figures is a bolt out of the blue, a riotous crowd-pleaser that is just too darn good to ignore.
This year that movie was La La Land - but you've already heard me warble on about that since December. Now it's time to heap praise on Hidden Figures because it's without a doubt the biggest surprise of the season and a complete barnstormer of a film that will woo audiences everywhere. Want a Oscar movie that the whole family will love and cherish? Look no further.
Hidden Figures is the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program; Katherine G Johnson (Taraji P Henson), a gifted math wiz, Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), a driven leader and programmer and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), a bright and gifted engineer. Together, these three women strived to break free of the societal shackles imposed upon them and radically change the path of the Space Race.
Spearheaded by a trio of fantastic performances, Hidden Figures takes a little-known story that deserved to be told and makes it something you aren't likely to forget for a long time. Henson, Spencer and Monae are all brilliant in their own right here, bringing depth and individuality to their characters.
Henson shines in the lead; I haven't seen her in much before (I don't watch Empire) but here she shows that she can do it all. She's funny, endearing, heartbreaking - sometimes all in the same scene.
Spencer is great too; her role is more assertive and strong-willed, but she too gets a round of lines that bring the house down. Personally I would've given her nomination to one of her two peers but I can see why the Academy went for her performance - she's already a winner for The Help and has that all important cred.
For me the breakthrough performance was Monae as Mary Jackson; her wit and comedic timing was excellent and took this film to another level.
The supporting cast are all great too; Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst play in opposition to our lead trio and their arcs are satisfying to follow. Mahershala Ali is fantastic also - he's just a bundle of pure charisma.The only actor who doesn't get a lot to work with is Jim Parsons; he essentially gets stuck with playing an angrier, more racist version of Sheldon Cooper and spends 90% of his scenes seething in the corner and giving Henson stink-eye.
The Verdict: 8.5/10
A peachy keen crowd-pleaser that is hard not to like, Hidden Figures is the plucky upstart in this awards race that could surprise you. A raft of wonderful performances give this remarkable true story a fizziness that everyone ages 8 to 80 will appreciate.
Hidden Figures is in cinemas across Australia on February 16.