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If the uproar over the late Chadwick Boseman's Best Actor Oscar® loss to Anthony Hopkins earlier this year passed you by, here's your chance to see why so many film lovers were up in arms at Boseman's searing final performance being overlooked by Academy® voters. Based on August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize‑winning play and directed by George C. Wolfe (THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, NIGHTS IN RODANTHE), MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM charts a day in the life of trailblazing blues singer Ma Rainey (an equally Oscar®-worthy Viola Davis) as she and her band gather in Chicago to record a new album in the stifling summer of 1927. When Ma fails to show up on time, studio owner Mel (Jonny Coyne) frets about her diva-like behavior, as band members Cutler (Colman Domingo), Toledo (Glynn Turman) and Slow Drag (Michael Potts) await her arrival, trading stories and arguing with Levee (Chadwick Boseman), the ambitious young upstart of the group, who is convinced that the band's long-established arrangements need to be updated for the modern era. When Ma arrives, larger than life and entourage in tow, tensions rise in the sweltering studio as personalities clash and history is made. "A reclamation of Black music and culture as told through an array of distinct characters, crackling dialogue and sharp filmmaking," (NPR) MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM is also a visual feast, which took home Oscars® for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. DIR George C. Wolfe; SCR Ruben Santiago-Hudson, from the play by August Wilson; PROD Denzel Washington, Todd Black, Dany Wolf. U.S., 2020, color, 94 min. RATED R

AFI Member passes accepted.

94 Minutes
Drama, biography


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