This past summer the world was hit with some truly devastating news, as it was reported that actor/producer Chadwick Boseman had passed away following a four-year battle with cancer. Fans were left shocked and stunned, as Boseman chose to keep his diagnosis a closely-guarded secret, and all of the movies he's made have taken on a kind of preciousness with the knowledge that more won't be made. There has particularly been a great deal of anticipation for what is now the star's final film, George C. Wolfe's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and while it won't be available streaming until next month, early reactions to the Netflix release are not only overwhelmingly positive, but many are hailing it as one of Boseman's greatest works.
Based on the August Wilson play of the same name, the film is a bottle story set in 1920s Chicago and finds all its action contained to a recording studio where a band waits for the arrival of legendary singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis). Chadwick Boseman plays an ambitious trumpet player named Levee who gets caught in the middle of escalating tension that comes out of big revelations and interpersonal dramas. Variety reporter Angelique Jackson is one of the many who is praising the work of the the Black Panther star in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, calling his turn "magical" and "legendary.:
As to be expected, Awards Watch founder Erik Anderson is also particularly focusing on the awards season side of the conversation. In his Tweeted reaction to the film he highlights the turns from Viola Davis and Colman Domingo, and adds that the score from composer Branford Marsalis is "aces," but he also kept the performance from Chadwick Boseman at the center of his commentary:
In his Ma Rainey's Black Bottom reaction, film critic Robert Daniels keeps things unambiguous. While Chadwick Boseman has some truly awesome performances on his resume, including movies like 42, Marshall, and Da 5 Bloods, Daniels believes that what we see in the new Netflix movie sees him at the height of his ability. He too delivers praise for the work done by Viola Davis, but he also makes it clear who the star of the show is:
Only adding to the pattern in the reactions is Collider Editor Perri Nemiroff, who throw adjectives like "electric" and "sizzling" into the mix. Viola Davis also receives more praise, but she also gives credit to cinematographer Tobias A. Schliessler, which is exciting because it suggests that the camera is able to make the most out of the purposefully limited setting.
If these reactions have raised your excitement for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, the best news I can give you is that you won't have to wait too much longer for its release (can you believe there are only seven weeks left in 2020?). The film will be getting an awards-qualifying theatrical release later this month, and will be made available to all Netflix subscribers following its launch on the streaming service December 18.