He inspired a nation with Black Panther, but for a true show of the respectable, wonderful Chadwick Boseman’s prowess as an actor, look no further than Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
In the performance of his career, a career cut short by cancer, Boseman is absolutely incredible and evokes some serious emotion as ambitious band member Levee. Sick of standing in the shadows of frontwoman Ma Rainey, the swaggering, immensely talented diva fronting the band, he wants to make a push on his own.
Viola Davis deserves thunderous applause as Rainey, who stages a fight against the all-white studio execs at the record company producing her latest recording. But we feel the reverberations of Boseman’s Levee long after the credits.
Both will be Oscar-nominated, to be sure, but this 1927 Chicago-set film also features a strong ensemble as well. Michael Potts, Glynn Turman and Colman Domingo are fantastic, and really elevate Boseman’s scenes. It’s like watching them all spar with a beautiful ferocity.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a soulful, incredible adaptation of the August Wilson play. His previous work, Fences, earned Davis her first Oscar, but this time, I’m betting on the late, great Chadwick Boseman.