The Independent Spirit Award nominations were announced on January 26 and included a windfall for the cast of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — not just leads Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman, but also supporting actors Colman Domingo and Glynn Turman. Is this a sign that we’re underestimating the film’s supporting cast at the Oscars?
Davis and Boseman have gotten the most attention from early awards voters thus far, with Davis winning Best Actress from Philadelphia critics and earning nominations and runner-up citations from many other groups including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics. Boseman has done even better, winning LAFCA as well as prizes from Chicago, Denver and San Francisco journalists and noms from numerous others.
They have the showiest roles in “Ma Rainey,” but they’re not the only ones who have been noticed on the campaign trail. Turman won Best Supporting Actor at LAFCA and was a runner-up for the National Society for his performance as Toledo, the pianist in Ma Rainey’s band who clashes with hot-headed trumpeter Levee (Boseman); that role previously earned a Tony nomination for Thomas Jefferson Byrd in a 2003 Broadway revival of the original August Wilson play. And Domingo was cited by the Indiana Film Journalists for playing the devout guitarist and trombonist Cutler.
Turman and Domingo were no strangers to awards before “Ma Rainey.” Turman won an Emmy in 2009 for guest starring on “In Treatment,” and this year’s he’s also a Critics’ Choice Award nominee for his supporting role in the FX anthology series “Fargo.” Domingo, meanwhile, is a Tony-nominated stage vet who has previously appeared in the Oscar-winning films “Lincoln” (2012) and “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018).
If Turman and Domingo do join Davis and Boseman on the Oscar nominations list, it would be a rare feat for a film, but certainly not unheard of. In the past decade “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) and “American Hustle” (2013) both earned four acting nominations. And the decade before that a couple other stage-to-screen adaptations racked up four acting bids apiece: “Chicago” (2002) and “Doubt” (2008) — Davis was one of the four nominated for “Doubt” too. Will “Ma Rainey” clean up in this year’s nominations the same way?
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