BrayMitch01’s review published on Letterboxd:
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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a great movie. Over the past few months this film had became one of my most anticipated films of the rest of the year (what’s left of the year) and I had slowly built pretty high expectations. This film has such a powerful tone that forces its audience to connect and become engaged with the story and the characters. The plot is great it’s a tense and engrossing story. The story is full of bold plot points that deal with themes of racism and resilience in tough times very well. It’s a story that mainly takes place in one location further more conveying a heavy sense of tension especially during the third act. There is a handful of flaws with the story the biggest ones being that the story can feel a little clustered at times and the runtime isn’t long enough to properly expand/further explain the story. The pacing is great since it’s such an engaging story there isn’t a lot of slow or uninteresting moments.
The acting is fantastic Chadwick Boseman gives a fantastic performance. He brings an incredible amount of raw energy and passion to his role, it’s truly devastating that this is his last performance. I will be very surprised if Boseman doesn’t win Best Actor at the upcoming Oscars. Viola Davis gives a great performance she really gives a powerful performance it’s impressive how much faculty she puts into her character. Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, Michael Potts, and Jeremy Shamos give great supporting performances as well. All of the characters are emotionally complex and three dimensional.
The direction is good from George C. Wolfe, most of his directorial choices felt like they didn’t live up to their full potential but he still did a really good job at handling such bold themes. The script is great it’s a well written script full of memorable pieces of dialogue and monologues (Bosemans monologue about his parents was surprisingly breathtaking). The cinematography is good it’s not the most memorable cinematography but it still works very well with the tensely confined tone of the film. The production design and costume design are great as well. In terms of the Oscars I strongly believe that this film will get nominated for all of the major categories. Boseman will most likely take home the Oscar for Best Actor. The ending is a predictable but powerful ending that leaves you to reflect on what you just watched. Overall while it has a handful of flaws Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is fundamentally a powerful and bold drama that’s embodied by Chadwick Boseman’s fantastic performance.