WHAT: The first trailer for Hidden Figures, a film based on the true story of the women of color who provided NASA with crucial mathematical data prior to the program’s first successful missions in space .
WHO: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, and St. Vincent director Theodore Melfi.
WHY WE CARE: While a lot of terrific historical films tend to flesh out stories we already know fairly well, some of the best ones shed light on stories that are relatively unknown. In the early-’60s, a team of mathematicians at NASA’s Langley Research Center quietly helped America in the quest to dominate the Space Race. Those mathematicians were women of color. Still hot off of Empire, Taraji P. Henson leads the cast as math genius Katherine Johnson, who dedicates herself to getting John Glenn off this planet, and guiding him back home. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer heads up the group, and Janelle Monáe, a singular musician with a Bowie-like flair for myth-making, plays the first female engineer at NASA. Supporting players like Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner are involved but take a backseat to the stars, and the revelation that . . . Janelle Monáe turns out to be an incredible actress.
Although the film promises to delve into the inherent racial issues of the period, the tone is lighter than the subject matter suggests, celebrating these women beyond their struggle. All that, plus original music by Pharrell. Hidden Figures is in theaters January 13, 2017.