The glossy biopic genre is getting yet another entry in Hidden Figures, which dredges up the forgotten story of African-American women in NASA and displays it with wit and verve. We’re only two years removed from the mathlete battle between The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything, and while Hidden Figures has no clear rival this year, it will be hard not to draw comparisons to those two recent films.
Why? Well, math, first off. All three are about brilliant mathematicians who use their minds to make great steps forward. Additionally, each story is complicated by unjust hindrances that are entirely out of their characters’ control (like race, gender, sexual orientation, and a neurological disease), but the most obvious trait among all of them is their simplified versions of reality, delicately molded to be mass consumed by audiences and to reel in awards.
Which makes it all the more surprising that Hidden Figures is currently slated for a 2017 release. To be eligible for the Oscars, the film must run in theaters this year, and there’s rumblings that a qualifying run will be added. There’s even a flashy event planned for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where footage will be shown followed by a Q&A with the major players and a performance by producer/composer Pharrell Williams. You don’t stage such an event unless you have big plans, so expect this film’s current American release date to change.
Really, all that surprises me now is that 20th Century Fox isn’t making a more firm play out of the gate. The film looks like classic Oscar bait, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. Awards season is like a political race, and Hidden Figures is following a solid game plan that produces perfectly enjoyable, if slightly forgettable, films. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with luring a bunch of people into a movie theater to remind them that history wasn’t made by white men alone.
Hidden Figures is directed by Theodore Melfi and stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe. It will be released in the U.S. on January 13th, 2017 and in the U.K. on February 24th, 2017. For international release dates, click here.
Do you think Hidden Figures has the potential to be something big? Let us know in the comments!
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