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‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ Takes Best Picture from the Black Film Critics Circle

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020): Viola Davis as Ma Rainey. Cr. David Lee / Netflix

The Black Film Critics Circle Awards has handed out their 10th annual prizes, with the big winner being Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. As The Hollywood Reporter details, the Netflix film, directed by George C. Wolfe, almost pulled off a sweep of the big five categories, as it earned wins for Best Picture, Best Leading Actor for Chadwick Boseman, Best Leading Actress for Viola Davis, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s adaptation of August Wilson’s play. 

It missed out on the Best Director win though, with that prize being a tie split between Regina King, making her directing debut with One Night in Miami, and the critic’s favorite Chloé Zhao, earning another prize for her work on Nomadland

The BFCC, a group made up of 25 members, all film critics of color, also handed out three signature awards. Radha Blank, the writer, director, producer, and star of her debut feature The Forty-Year-Old Version, was fittingly given the Rising Star Award. The group’s Pioneer Award was given to a man who has more than earned that title, Sam Pollard. The documentary filmmaker has been working in the industry for over 40 years, including as the editor on many Spike Lee pictures like Mo’ Better Blues and Bamboozled. His latest project is the documentary MLK/FBI, which he directed and is available now to stream. 

One other signature award went out to Steve McQueen, a man who awards organizations have had a tough time knowing what to do with this year. While some groups have awarded prizes to individual entries in his Small Axe anthology, and others have given film awards to the collection of films as a whole, the BFCC have decided to grant him a special mention for his masterful anthology. 

For the full list of BFCC winners, along with their top 10 films of the year, see below: 

TOP 10 FILMS OF THE YEAR 

01. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

02. Minari

03. Nomadland 

04. One Night in Miami

05. Soul 

06. Judas and the Black Messiah 

07. Da 5 Bloods

08. The Trial of the Chicago 7

09. Sound of Metal

010. The Forty-Year-Old Version (tie)

010. Sylvie’s Love (tie)

BEST DIRECTOR

Regina King, One Night in Miami (tie)

Chloé Zhao, Nomadland (tie) 

BEST LEADING ACTOR

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

BEST LEADING ACTRESS

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Lee Isaac Chung, MInari 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Hoyte van Hoytema, Tenet 

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Time

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Soul 

BEST FOREIGN FILM 

Night of the Kings 

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Written by Mitchell Beaupre

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