You know the names Alan Shepard and John Glenn, but you’ve probably never heard of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, without whose mathematics, computing and engineering know-how those guys would never have flown. This it’s-about-damn-time true story banishes the notion that the only people who had the Right Stuff in the moonshot effort were white and male. Taraji P. Henson (as Johnson), Octavia Spencer (Vaughn) and Janelle Monáe (Jackson) are marvelous in this feel-good nerd triumph; there’s a lot of standing at blackboards doing calculations, and it’s all genuinely thrilling. The obstacles the women face because of gender and race are even more outrageous and infuriating amidst the audacity of what NASA is attempting: As they look forward and up, they cannot see their own backwardness. This is necessary, important filmmaking, but it’s also hugely entertaining.
Director: Theodore Melfi
Producer: Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams, Theodore Melfi, Jamal Daniel, Renee Witt, Ivana Lombardi, Mimi Valdés, Kevin Halloran and Margot Shetterly
Cast: Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Mahershala Ali, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Kimberly Quinn, Glen Powell, Aldis Hodge and Bob Jennings