Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom ★★★½

Breaks no new grounds as far as musical biopics go, but still does a fine job at vividly capturing the era and the struggle of African-American musical artists trying to maintain their integrity and dignity while being surrounded by prejudce, hatred and possible exploitation. George C. Wolfe shoots this with a decent visual flair and a relative fast pace to make it less obivous that it's a stage play adaptation, but the real heart and soul of it are the performances. The absolutely dynamite acting performance of Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Especially Boseman who plays his high temperament, emotionally broken and beaten character with such a combination of nuance and raw power that it breaks through the screen. A beautiful final gift from a pure talent we lost way too soon. Just gave the posthumous Oscar for his memory, I don't think anyone else is even close to match him this year.

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