The awards season is just around the corner and we’ll be damned if Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is not nominated under several categories. Based on the play of the same name by August Wilson and written by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, this drama gives us a peek at the life and work of legendary blues singer Ma Rainey, who was known as ‘Mother of Blues’. One of the earliest professional blues singers, Ma Rainey was a sensation in the early 20th century. George C. Wolfe‘s musical drama has Viola Davis essay the titular character while Chadwick Boseman, Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, and Michael Potts play supporting characters as her band members.
The movie takes place during one hot afternoon at the recording studio, where the band is waiting to record while Ma Rainey is not ready to give up control of her music to her white manager Irvin (Jeremy Shamos) and producer Sturdyvant (Jonny Coyne). Meanwhile, the horn player Levee (Boseman) is eager to start a band of his own where he can make his own music and not listen to anyone. He picks up fights with the other band members, leading to an eruption of stories by each one, which brings to light some bitter truths and lies of the past. Also making up the cast are Dusan Brown as Ma Rainey’s stuttering nephew Sylvester and Taylour Paige as Dussie Mae, love interest to both Ma Rainey and Levee.
What makes Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom award-worthy
Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman deliver stunning performances in this musical drama. The late actor has the most screen time and he gives it his best performance of his career. Viola Davis proves yet again that she’s a true icon and will most likely sweep the Best Actress awards at every event. The music is enrapturing and you also get a feel of the blues. The costumes are perfect for its time period and Viola Davis pulls off her gown with the grace and audacity of a star. She has been made to look unattractive on purpose, as Ma Rainey was suggested to be.
Expect long scenes with some excellent performances
Adapted from a play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has some long and stretched-out scenes that hold your attention mainly because the actors do a damn fine job. Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Colman Domingo, and Glynn Turman have their moments to shine with monologues that not only capture your attention but also tug at your heartstrings. You get to witness the inherent racism of the period and how it came to shape the lives of the characters. As deep and dark secrets unfold, the film completely takes over your mind and soul.
An ode to Chadwick Boseman
This film has been dedicated to its late actor who gives the final performance of his life as Levee. As the credits roll, you cannot help but shed a tear at the legacy of the star. Expect to hear his name a lot more as the awards season begins as he is likely to be posthumously awarded for his brilliant performance.
WATCH OR NOT:
There are several reasons to watch Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix – you’re a fan of Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, the blues, or simply because you love good dramas. The movie is short and captures your attention throughout. Watch it for the brilliant performances and to catch the late Chadwick Boseman on screen one last time.