Brent Lang –
Fox and Chernin Entertainment’s “Hidden Figures” dominated the domestic box office, topping charts for the second straight weekend after earning $26 million.
The film’s message of empowerment and triumph over prejudice was amplified by the Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend.
“This continues to be a movie for everyone,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s head of domestic distribution. “It’s not just entertaining. It’s life affirming. It celebrates the triumph of the human spirit and that’s so important in these times.”
Hidden Figures is a story of brilliance, but not of ego. It’s a story of struggle and willpower, but not of individual glory. Set in 1960s Virginia, the film centres on three pioneering African American women whose calculations for Nasa were integral to several historic space missions, including John Glenn’s successful orbit of the Earth.
These women — Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan — were superlative mathematicians and engineers despite starting their careers in segregation-era America and facing discrimination at home, at school, and at work.
And yet Hidden Figures pays tribute to its subjects by doing the opposite of what many biopics have done in the past — it looks closely at the remarkable person in the context of a community.
Directed by Ted Melfi and based on the nonfiction book of the same title by Margot Lee Shetterly, the film celebrates individual mettle, but also the way its characters consistently try to lift others up. They’re phenomenal at what they do, but they’re also generous with their time, their energy, and their patience in a way that feels humane, not saintly.
By refracting the overlooked lives and accomplishments of Johnson, Vaughan, and Jackson through this lens, Hidden Figures manages to be more than an inspiring history lesson with wonderful performances. “Hidden Figures” is a latecomer to the awards season race, but the film, which stars Taraji P Henson and Octavia Spencer as African-American scientists and mathematicians in the early days of the space programme, ranks as one of the most successful dramas of 2016. So far, it has earned $60.4 million. That commercial success could translate into Oscar attention when Academy Award nominations are announced next week. It will likely face fierce competition from “La La Land,” a critically beloved movie musical with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Fresh off its sweep of the Golden Globe awards, “La La Land” sang and danced its way to $17.5 million over the holiday period, good enough for a third place finish. That brings the Lionsgate release’s domestic total to $77 million and more than $132 million globally. Not bad for an original musical that hit theaters without the benefit of being based on a beloved Broadway show.
The second film from Theodore Melfi, whose sole other credit, Bill Murray vehicle St Vincent, should have tipped us off sooner to the likely prevailing mood, Hidden Figures is a bouncy, almost garish feelgood girl pic. A movie that knows right from wrong and doesn’t see any use in complicating matters.
The performances are uniformly winning when they need to be and hissable when they don’t. There are scenes in which kids say the funniest things, bullies receive their comeuppance, hunky men propose in the cutest ways and we get impassioned monologues happy to sacrifice plausibility for whoopability.
Hidden Figures is a story of brilliance, but not of ego. It’s a story of struggle and willpower, but not of individual glory. Set in 1960s Virginia, the film centREs on three pioneering African American women whose calculations for NASA were integral to several historic space missions, including John Glenn’s successful orbit of the Earth
Film: hidden figures
Director: Ted Melfi