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‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ First Reactions: Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman Bring Down the House

Praise is stupendous for George C. Wolfe's August Wilson adaptation, with Boseman and Davis now shoo-ins for acting honors next year.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020): (L to R) Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Glynn Turman as Toldeo, Michael Potts as Slow Drag, Colman Domingo as Cutler. Cr. David Lee / Netflix

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

David Lee/Netflix

The wait is over, and first reactions to Netflix’s upcoming awards season juggernaut “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” are finally here. And they’re major, with showers of acclaim for Oscar shoo-ins Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Directed by George C. Wolfe and adapted from the beloved play by August Wilson, the drama debuted on Saturday, November 14 as part of a sneak-peek virtual premiere in partnership with the American Film Institute. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is set to launch on Netflix everywhere December 18.

In “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” tensions and temperatures escalate throughout the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago. A band of musicians await the arrival of one trailblazing performer, the Mother of the Blues, Ma Rainey. She’s played by Viola Davis, the Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress for another August Wilson adaptation, director Denzel Washington’s “Fences.” (Washington is also a producer on “Ma Rainey’s.”) Late to the session, Ma Rainey stirs up ado with her white manager and producer over the control of her music. Meanwhile, the band waits in a claustrophobic rehearsal room, where trumpeter Levee (Boseman), with ambitions of his own, spurs his fellow musicians into revealing truths that will change all their lives.

The movie has buzz for Boseman’s posthumous (and final) performance. Netflix is planning to campaign Boseman in the Lead Actor category at the Oscars, with his turn in Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” (also for Netflix) vying for Supporting Actor.

The cast of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” also includes Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts.

Check out a roundup of first reactions from Twitter below.

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