Ma Rainey's Black Bottom trailer

The Oscar buzz is coming in hot for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, George C. Wolfe‘s adaptation of the classic August Wilson play which stars Viola Davis and, most notably, Chadwick Boseman in his final film role. And what a swan song for Boseman the movie is, according to early buzz for the highly anticipated Netflix film.

Critics are calling Boseman’s turn in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as “magical” and “the best he’s ever been on-screen.” The raves come after weeks of growing awards buzz for both Boseman and Davis, both of whom Netflix are preparing big Oscar campaigns around. It sounds like it’s well-deserved for both acting titans, who will appear in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix in December.

Boseman stars in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as an ambitious trumpet player named Levee who gets caught in the escalating drama between legendary Blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) and her white managers in 1920s Chicago. And while Davis is the star of the picture, it’s Boseman who is getting the most raves, with many critics commenting on the bittersweet nature of seeing the Black Panther and Da 5 Bloods actor in the best performance of his career in the aftermath of his passing in August from colon cancer.

Boseman’s death was a major blow to the Black community, for whom Boseman served as an indelible screen idol. But Netflix appears to be taking seriously Boseman’s importance to the Black community, not to mention the standing of August Wilson’s work, allowing even more access to Black critics to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom than for its previous films (for which the streamer has been rightly criticized in the past). The majority of the Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom early buzz comes from Black critics, who rave about Boseman and Davis’ performances and the important context that this Black-led, Black-created film has in the larger scheme of things.

Meanwhile, we’re starting to enter the thick of awards season, and critics are already making their predictions that Boseman and Davis will lead the pack in the acting categories at the Oscars in April 2021. Boseman’s performance in particular is being pushed by Netflix in the Leading Actor category, and it’s seeming very likely that the actor will earn a much-deserved posthumous Oscar nomination.

While most of the raves about Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom center on the performances, and Boseman’s work in particular, it seems that Netflix is set to hit another high note with this August Wilson stage adaptation. The film is scheduled to be released on December 18, 2020 on Netflix following a limited theatrical release in November.

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