"This is chamber-piece cinema that hits with steam train force."
— Robbie Collin Daily, Telegraph (UK)
"A detonation of pure acting firepower is what's on offer in this movie version of August Wilson's 1982 stage play."
— Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
"Rollicking and heartbreaking in equal measure, the period musical drama "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" plays all the right notes..."
— Brian Truitt, USA Today
"The contained staginess of the movie comes off as welcome, intimate and, in the hands of these boldly empathetic performers, quite thrilling."
— Oliver Jones, Observer
"Seeing these actors, the late Boseman chief among them, relish the opportunity to try to get a daunting stage-to-screen adaptation right: That’s a privilege to behold."
— Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"'If you're gonna tell it, tell it right!'... It could ultimately be the motto for the entire film... but is really concerned with telling uncomfortable truths about 20th-century American social history."
— Kevin Maher, Times (UK)
"[W]atching actors of this caliber lose themselves in characters of such aching humanity is ample reward, with Boseman's towering work standing as a testament to a blazing talent lost too soon."
— David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
"August Wilson’s play about black musicians fighting racism in 1927 may reveal its stage origins on screen, but watching Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman deliver the performances of their lives is a thrilling experience you do not want to miss."
— Peter Travers, ABC
"It’s important to note that there would not even be a show to admire without the trailblazing career of Ma Rainey, which Davis recognizes and honors with her otherworldly portrayal. Still, this is undoubtedly Boseman’s show and will likely live on as his greatest work."
— Shannon Miller, The A.V. Club