Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman tragically passed away earlier this year, meaning that Ma Rainey's Black Bottom now serves as his final movie.
The film is set in the 1920s, with How to Get Away with Murder's Viola Davis as a jazz singer on her way to a recording session with her band.
She not only has to deal with her white managers' attempts to exploit her and her band, but also Boseman's character Levee announcing that he wants to leave and go solo.
First impressions of the film have started coming in, after it was screened for critics. Refreshingly, a lot of Black critics got to see this film ahead of release, something that has rarely been the case, even when the film is focused on Black characters and history.
Although these impressions are not full-on reviews and just tweets, they all paint a solid picture of what Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is – a film to look out for with excellent cinematography, music, and performances from Boseman and Davis that could well be recognised when awards season rolls around.
Here are a handful of early impressions:
MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM is a must see. There's a rhythm to the dialogue that is synonymous with August Wilson plays, and Black language that Viola Davis, Chadwick Bozeman and Coleman Domingo & the other actors delivered beautifully. The direction and editing were flawless.
— Black Women's Lives Matter. Carolyn Hinds (@CarrieCnh12) November 15, 2020
MA RAINEY’s BLACK BOTTOM is EVERYTHING! Dynamic monologues, stellar performances and just a cinematic gem. Chadwick is beyond. Viola is incredible. Colman is superb. And honestly so many people in this cast are SERVING! Give it all the awards noms 👏🏾 pic.twitter.com/cgKkhQGXXL
— Kay-B (@TheLadyKayB) November 15, 2020
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM features the best performance of Chadwick Boseman’s career. He’s vibrant. Energetic. Shattered. And holds this stagey production together. Viola Davis is great, as usual, but it’s Boseman’s showcase from beginning to end. pic.twitter.com/CfcrlvSMgA
— Robert Daniels (@812filmreviews) November 15, 2020
Chadwick Boseman is electric in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Sizzling from start to finish, and has you hanging on his every word. And yup, Viola Davis is an absolute powerhouse. Mighty big fan of that dazzling cinematography from Tobias A. Schliessler, too. pic.twitter.com/VBBp594p1q
— Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) November 15, 2020
‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ gives us an outstanding turn from Viola Davis but it’s Chadwick Boseman that leaves it all out on floor in a stellar, Sidney Poitier-level, Oscar-worthy performance. Colman Domingo gives excellent support and Branford Marsalis’s score is aces. pic.twitter.com/deH4QpQS1h
— Erik Anderson (@awards_watch) November 15, 2020
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM: 🤯😍🙌🏿
Chadwick did the best acting of his career in this film. He shines!
Viola tops herself, in almost every way.
Colman Domingo elevates every scene.
George C. Wolfe’s direction 👌🏿.
Black ass, timeless excellence. #MaRaineyFilm
— Tre'vell Anderson (@TrevellAnderson) November 15, 2020
MA RAINEY’s BLACK BOTTOM is fantastic and a succinct, pitch-perfect adaptation of the Wilson play. Chadwick Boseman’s final role is the best he’s ever been on-screen...probably the performance of a lifetime. Give him and Viola Davis their Oscars. Game over. #MaRaineysBlackBottom
— Trey Mangum (@treymangum) November 15, 2020
George C. Wolfe did a *great* job bringing August Wilson's @MaRaineyFilm to the screen. While the entire cast is fantastic, both Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis are superb and I now understand why @netflix is pushing them in Award season. #MaRaineysBlackBottom pic.twitter.com/U5LIz5O9rD
— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) November 15, 2020
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a scorcher. Chadwick Boseman is a class act and his delivery of August Wilson’s monologues are impeccable. I miss him. Viola Davis is magnificent, commanding the screen with every word. I’m in awe of Tobias Schliessler’s cinematography. pic.twitter.com/XaR4mUWeyR
— Jazz Tangcay (@jazzt) November 15, 2020
MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM has Chadwick Boseman unload every ounce of himself on screen. Everything he could/would offer cinema is entrenched in his Levee. Viola Davis is magnificent (smaller role than expected). Adore Glynn Turman & want #Oscars to know it too. #FilmTwitter pic.twitter.com/Sibay5Ru46
— Clayton Davis (@AwardsCircuit) November 15, 2020
It has been reported that Netflix is indeed putting Boseman and Davis forward for Oscar nominations, and that he could also be nominated for Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods.
If that happens, he would become the first actor to be posthumously nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in the same year.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom premieres on December 18 on Netflix.
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