One of the most awaited films of this award season, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” emerges as one of Netflix’s premier Oscar vehicles. At its intimate origins, the late Chadwick Boseman’s farewell performance is as encouraging as anticipated. His work as Levey may be his best and most spiritual gift for cinema. Bosman has a real opportunity to join a shortlist that includes Peter Finch and Heath Ledger, two posthumous Oscar nominees who won in their respective categories.
Based on the play by August Wilson, “Ma Rainey Black Black” tells the story of the tension Ma Ma Rainey creates, titled “Mother of the Blues” (played by Viola Davis), her ambitious horn leave, and White management has been prescribed. In 1927 in Chicago to control his music.
It was reported that Bosman would be presented as the lead actor by Netflix, with one question mumbling, “Is this the right call?” In fact, I believe it is. If the film has a lead, it is undoubtedly Levi’s, and at 94 minutes of ravishing time, Bosman has the greatest story. With his work in Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” back in June, this year could be a coronation and tribute to inspiring talent. He could very well become the first double posthumous acting nominee in the same year. James Dean received two consecutive nominations for “East of Eden” and “Giant” after his death.
In the shadow of the actor’s untimely death in August, his work as Boseman as Levey is all that remains in his artistic arsenal. Perhaps he knew that this was likely to be his final film, or maybe not, but what he communicates has a poignancy and spiritual uplift and he will be a formidable contestant with Anthony Hopkins in “The Father”.
Co-star Davis, who is truly ignited in her eloquent, transformational work, is likely to secure her place in the race for Best Actress. She currently tied with Octavia Spencer as the most nominated black actress in Oscar history, and could break that record on March 15, 2021, when the Academy Award nomination was announced. She will be the second black actress to be nominated again after Spencer winning her Academy Award. Davis won her first Oscar in 2016 for Best Supporting Actress for director Daniel Washington’s “Fans”, who also serves as a producer on “Ma Rainey”. There was debate as to whether his “Fans” role was lead or supporting, and we can hear a similar rumble about his work as an uncontrollable singer. She does her singing on a number of the film, which is impressive.
Tony Award winner George C. Played by Wolfe (“Angels in America”), the theater veteran understands the soul of the story, but maintains the film very much in its stage settings. The director’s branch would need to look beyond that to be invited to a very competitive Oscar race in that category. The same can be said for debut feature screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who can bubble around a customized screenplay nomination.
The ensemble is truly impressive, all with individual bright spots that make them stand out in their own way. Glyn Terman’s Toledo is one of the emotional pillars and performances that resonates. In a year that seems to be lining up around veteran actors such as Bill Murray and David Strathiran, the 73-year-old veteran may get enough voters to check his name for his first Oscar nomination. The classic star of “Cooley High” won an Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a play in 2008 for “In Treatment”.
Colman Domingo, Michael Potts and Tallour Paige notably excluded the cast, which could be an easy check-out for a SAG ensemble nomination. A mention at the SAG Awards will likely bring a prestigious picture nomination. If that nomination comes to fruition, Washington will be the first black producer to be nominated twice. He was nominated for “Fans” along with his co-producer Todd Black. Danny Wolf is also a credit producer.
The artisans will play a key role in supporting it with the race academy. Ann Roth’s costumes should be fairly well factored, making her the oldest nominee in any category, at the age of 89, surpassing James Ivory when she was nominated and in 2017’s “Call Me For Your The best-adapted screenplay for “Name.”
Production designer Mark Riker, along with set designer Diana Staughton and Oscar-winner Karen O’Hara (“Alice in Wonderland”), are enough highlights to impress Branch. Now the sound category, including mixing and editing, can be a tough climb with many music and big blockbusters in the race.
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” will be released on Netflix on December 18.