Skip to content
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – 2020 Wolfe
- George Wolfe brings August Wilson’s play to life thanks to stellar lead performances from Viola Davis and the late, great Chadwick Boseman
- This is the final film from Boseman who tragically passed away way too soon at age 43—and aside from (and maybe including) Black Panther– I’m not sure he’s ever been better. He’s penetrating, wiry and well-dressed. As good as Davis (heavy make-up, commanding screen presence, lip-synching as the title character) is, it is Boseman who walks away with the film. Boseman is given the brilliant monologue talking about defending his mother at 8-years old.
- Like the earlier August Wilson film adaptation Fences (also featuring Viola Davis—this film here is produced by Denzel) it is almost helplessly stagebound. It does feel like 1927 Chicago—but we’re stuck in a couple of rooms (comparing this with Birdman will make you think Birdman deserves a vote for the best film of all-time) and you can even feel the rhythms of the dialogue here belonging on the stage.
- Recommend- but it probably has a better argument for falling off the archives altogether than belonging in the top 10