Ma Rainey's Black Bottom will debut on Netflix in just under a month, but reviews for the upcoming film have begun to hit and while the film itself is impressing critics, it's the late Chadwick Boseman who is getting rave reviews for his final film role. Critics almost completely across the board have nothing but absolute praise for Boseman with what some are suggesting may be the best performance of his entire career.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, based on the play of the same name by August Wilson, tells the story of "Mother of Blues" Gertrude "Ma" Rainey (played by Viola Davis in the film) and centers on a fateful recording session for her album "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom". In the film, Boseman plays the ambitious trumpeter Levee. The film presently sits at a 100 percent Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 43 reviews and nearly every single one of those reviews praises Boseman.
"While Black Panther remains and enormous part of Boseman's legacy, his flashy, fast-talking role here -- using music as a means of seduction -- demonstrates his extraordinary range and at least while watching nearly erases considerations beyond what's on screen, which is no small feat," CNN's Brian Lowry writes.
Thrillist's Esther Zuckerman wrote that Boseman's performance in the film will compel audiences to break into applause only to be sadly reminded in the end that the actor is gone, calling him a "tornado" on the screen.
"He'll be best remembered certainly as T'Challa, but that performance, as great as it is, doesn't come close to demonstrating the range of his talents," Zuckerman writes. "Here, he's a tornado on the screen, singing and storming, while also capturing an insecurity that all the bravado is trying to conceal. Seeing him in this way feels both a gift and a curse. It's magnificent, but there should have been so much more."
Boseman, who died in August at the age of 43 following a private, four-year battle with colon cancer, is already generating a lot of awards buzz for his role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Netflix will campaign the actor in the Best Actor category for the 2021 Academy Awards for his role in the film. Should he receive a nomination, it would mark his first and should he win, he would be just the third recipient of a posthumous Academy Award for acting following Peter Finch (Best Actor, Network) and Heath Ledger (Best Supporting Actor, The Dark Knight).
You can check out the official synopsis for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom below.
"Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary 'Mother of the Blues,' Ma Rainey (Academy Award winner Viola Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) — who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry — spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives."
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is set to be released on December 18th, only on Netflix.