Unsung heroes take spotlight

Randhika Aturaliya, Deputy editor

The 1960’s were a time of jamming rock and roll tunes, electrifying space discoveries and, above all, a deep and poignant racism. “Hidden Figures” in no way shies away from this racism, portraying the day to day racism that African Americans faced. While also unearthing a piece of history never discussed before.
“Hidden Figures” directed by Theodore Melfi, is a biographical drama about three African American women who worked at NASA, running crucial calculations to the United States during the grueling space race. The movie seamlessly tells the tale of the three ladies and the obstacles they faced in their career.
Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) receives a new position and immediately finds herself deeply uncomfortable as she is the only African-American in the room. Her co-workers are quick to dismiss her, namely the snobbish Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons). The pain and anger that Henson portrayed towards her racist co-workers was deeply moving and realistic
Meanwhile, Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) has her dreams squashed by her aggressive white boss, who can’t seem to get past her own internalized prejudice and bluntly denies her any chance of a promotion, despite Vaughan’s overwhelming competence. The sass and fire that Spencer brings to the character brings the character to life.
In one distinct scene, Vaughan bluntly tells her boss, Vivian Mitchell (Kristen Dunst) that even though she may be a women. She doesn’t truly understand the struggles she faces as a black woman. This is a relevant issue today with the rise of “white feminism.”
The third figure in the trio is Mary Johnson (Janelle Monáe), who aspires to become the first black woman engineer. She tears down boundaries by appealing to take high school courses at an all-white high school to gain the education necessary.
The icing on the cake for me was the soundtrack, composed by Pharell Williams and Hans Zimmer. It captured the retro-funk of the 60’s featuring songs from Pharell Williams, Alicia Keys, and Janelle Monáe.
I can see “Hidden Figures” winning best picture, and have no doubt that Octavia Spencer will win best supporting actress. This film is also nominated for best adapted screenplay. “Hidden Figures” is still playing at the Hunt Valley Regal Cinemas. The estimated release date for the DVD is in April.

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