[Quick Summary: Katherine Goble/Johnson works through the mathematics and politics of a 1962 workplace to help put an American into space.]
Three Reasons I Applaud This Script:
1) This is probably the fastest that I've read an Oscar script.
2) It totally sucked me into another place and time (so rare).
3) Some scripts are a pain to read because style (showy) wins over substance (story).
This script was a pleasure to read because style was always in service of story.
For example, the story opens on Katherine as a child. She is above average smart.
How would you have shown how smart she is?
Does another child mock her? Does she get an award? Show off? Spout off?
The writers chose a less showy, but more effective way that keeps us on track. (Also, I feel this probably reflects more truly of who the real Katherine is):
ex. "In darkness, the voice of a little girl. Counting.
LITTLE GIRL (V.O.): 14, 15, 16...prime. 18, prime. [A little girl knows what a prime number is?!]
EXT. TREE LINED PATH - DAY
A pair of little feet navigates down a gravel path. Kicking a pine cone.
LITTLE GIRL (O.S.): 20, 21, 22, prime, 24, 25, 26... [I didn't know what prime numbers were until high school. And here, she's counting...for fun.]
Pulling up, we reveal: KATHERINE COLEMAN (8), a peculiar, quiet, mouse of a child, wearing glasses bigger than her bookish face. Counting to herself.
A VOICE (her Mother's) in the distance hollers out:
JOYLETTE COLEMAN (O.S.): Katherine! Come on now!
Katherine looks up. Sees a car stopped at the end of the path. She runs off. Counting all the way."
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I liked that the writers did not try to shoehorn the characters into outlandish situations (showy).
Instead, they got out of the way and allowed the characters' traits to surface, and that created conflicts more organically.
ex. Katherine thrived on data, but Man #2 withheld data, claiming she didn't have 'clearance' --> She figured it out anyway and left Man #2 with egg on his face.
Hidden Figures (2016)
by Allison Schroeder and Ted Melfi
Based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly