The prime-numbered year of 2017 has been a divisive one, which is at least a little ironic. Now that the glass is half of something, it is time to broadcast my 100% correct and 99% meaningless opinions on the Ten Best Films of 2017. I’ve done a few of these Top Ten lists here on Plot and Theme, and I always add commentary to them to keep them from feeling like a Buzzfeed list, but for you William Shakesman fans I will reproduce a brief and witty summary at the very end.
There are specific and powerful images throughout Hidden Figures, but none exemplify the central theme of Theodore Melfi’s film more than two shots of a piece of chalk held by the main character. This pregnant extension of Katherine Goble’s (Taraji P. Henson) brilliant mind is both an invitation for her to prove herself as a black woman in a world of white men, but an implicit challenge by those same men that she could never be their equal. Though they are not connected dramatically, her struggles and successes are thematically connected with the successes of her peers, so that each separate woman’s respective strides become reverberations of the others, until the resulting din screams a single poignant truth: the quality and content of a person’s mind is not determined by race, gender, or anything else so superficial.