Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are slowly working their way through film adaptations of all twelve plays in legendary playwright August Wilson’s Century Cycle, which chronicle the black experience in America in the 20th century. Washington and Davis starred in Fences in 2016, which won Davis her first Oscar (for Best Supporting Actress), and now the two are together again for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but this time Washington is in the producer’s chair and Davis looks a lock for a Best Actress nomination (if not the win).
On paper, this project looked like it had Oscar written all over it, but now that the first trailer has dropped from Netflix, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom looks as good as everyone had anticipated and expectations are high for the film directed by legendary theatre director George C. Wolfe, to do everything but sing the Blues come Oscar night.
Davis stars as Ma Rainey, a real-life legendary Blues singer, known as the “Mother of the Blues.” Set in 1927 Chicago, the film focuses on the recording sessions for one of her albums, dramatizing her battles with her white producers for control of her music. As with all of Wilson’s plays, the more intimate story is set against a backdrop of larger issues, such as art, race and religion.
Produced by Washington and Todd Black and written for the screen by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom features music from Branford Marsalis and co-stars Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, Michael Potts, Taylour Paige, Dusan Brown, and Chadwick Boseman in his final film role.
It’s clear to see why Davis and Boseman are already both leading the awards talk, as this trailer promises a defiant and celebratory film that will explode off the screen, led by what looks to be two powerful performances.
Netflix will release Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in select theaters in November and on the streamer December 18. See the trailer below: