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Oscar-worthy Chadwick Boseman saves his best for last in ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’, but it’s a muddled misfire of a movie

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which stars Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, and is based upon the August Wilson stage play of the same name, premiered this past Friday on Netflix with much fanfare.

The buzz surrounding the film, which tells the story of legendary blues singer Ma Rainey and her band as they endure a tumultuous recording session, has suggested that Boseman, the famed star of Black Panther who died of colon cancer in August at the age of 43, should win a Best Actor Oscar for his final film role.

I went into my viewing of Ma Rainey skeptical of the voracity of Boseman’s supposedly Oscar-worthy work. In the wake of the tragic death of an artist, particularly a young one, critics often succumb to sentimentality and overlook skill. I assumed the same was true of those praising Boseman, who plays Levee, the combustible cornet player in Ma Rainey’s band, who’s blessed with prodigious talent and equal ambition.

I also brought my own personal history regarding Boseman’s past acting work to my viewing. I know it is blasphemous to say now, but I’ve never been impressed by Boseman as an actor. I always felt he was a safe and comfortable screen presence, but lacked charisma as a movie star and depth as an artist.

After viewing Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which currently boasts a 99-percent critical score at Rotten........

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