The Oscar buzz is coming in hot for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, George C. Wolfe‘s adaptation of the classic August Wilson play which stars Viola Davis and, most notably, Chadwick Boseman in his final film role. And what a swan song for Boseman the movie is, according to early buzz for the highly anticipated Netflix film.
Critics are calling Boseman’s turn in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as “magical” and “the best he’s ever been on-screen.” The raves come after weeks of growing awards buzz for both Boseman and Davis, both of whom Netflix are preparing big Oscar campaigns around. It sounds like it’s well-deserved for both acting titans, who will appear in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix in December.
Boseman stars in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as an ambitious trumpet player named Levee who gets caught in the escalating drama between legendary Blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) and her white managers in 1920s Chicago. And while Davis is the star of the picture, it’s Boseman who is getting the most raves, with many critics commenting on the bittersweet nature of seeing the Black Panther and Da 5 Bloods actor in the best performance of his career in the aftermath of his passing in August from colon cancer.
Boseman’s death was a major blow to the Black community, for whom Boseman served as an indelible screen idol. But Netflix appears to be taking seriously Boseman’s importance to the Black community, not to mention the standing of August Wilson’s work, allowing even more access to Black critics to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom than for its previous films (for which the streamer has been rightly criticized in the past). The majority of the Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom early buzz comes from Black critics, who rave about Boseman and Davis’ performances and the important context that this Black-led, Black-created film has in the larger scheme of things.
The whole thing really is bittersweet. This is very much akin to GET ON UP. Chadwick dancing, singing, and being his captivating self. It’s the full range, and it’s terrible that we won’t see more of it.
— Robert Daniels (@812filmreviews) 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
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
Seeing Chadwick so full of life, moving to the beat of the music, and rhythm of the words filled me with a mix of emotions. His performance is perfection, and I’m thankful he got to give it. He made every second, every shot count.#MaRaineysBlackBottom pic.twitter.com/cpehxfWrVx
— 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 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 is an embarrassment of riches, a collection of sterling performances that will take me days to process. Speechless. And deeply sad. pic.twitter.com/fshtA0VoWi
— Shannon Miller (@ShannonL_Miller) November 15, 2020
My oh my, how magical Chadwick Boseman’s work is in MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM. His performance as Levee is a legendary as you imagined it’d be. He & Viola deserve every bit of this Oscar talk that’s been buzzing ?? pic.twitter.com/jkBCWiYqBg
— Angelique Jackson (@angelique814) 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” is Chadwick Boseman’s film. His jaw-dropping performance is full of spry hubris and fiery rage. If his ineffable talent wasn’t enough, Boseman is made immortal by the buoyant smile and infectious charm he brought to everything he touched. RIP pic.twitter.com/pZSQkTgNZG
— Mark Johnson ? (@MarkLikesMovies) November 15, 2020
Meanwhile, we’re starting to enter the thick of awards season, and critics are already making their predictions that Boseman and Davis will lead the pack in the acting categories at the Oscars in April 2021. Boseman’s performance in particular is being pushed by Netflix in the Leading Actor category, and it’s seeming very likely that the actor will earn a much-deserved posthumous Oscar nomination.
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
Going to do very well with nominations and yes, Chadwick could posthumously win for this.
— Matt Neglia (@NextBestPicture) 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
While most of the raves about Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom center on the performances, and Boseman’s work in particular, it seems that Netflix is set to hit another high note with this August Wilson stage adaptation. The film is scheduled to be released on December 18, 2020 on Netflix following a limited theatrical release in November.