Chadwick Boseman has created history by becoming the first Black actor to be posthumously nominated for an Academy Award. The nomination for Actor in a Leading Role was awarded to the late performer for his portrayal of an ambitious trumpet player in Netflix‘s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. While the nomination was expected by most, the actor soon started trending on social media, with Boseman fans glad that the actor was being honored for his work.
The actor best known for his lead role in Marvel’s Black Panther has been nominated for several awards throughout his career, but this marks his first Oscar nod. This is also not the first posthumous nomination that the actor has received. Boseman was nominated for a Golden Globe earlier this year and went on to win the award for Lead Actor in a Movie – Drama for the same role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
As soon as the official announcement of Boseman’s Oscar nomination was made, social media was abuzz with Boseman-related conversations. Many of his fans are convinced that the actor will be winning the award, not unlike the Golden Globe victory, because his portrayal of Levee Green was his best performance to date. Some also questioned why his performance as a US soldier in the Vietnam War in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods did not receive any recognition, though.
Only seven actors have previously received posthumous Oscar nominations, including Jeanne Eagels, James Dean, Spencer Tracy, Peter Finch, Ralph Richardson, Massimo Troisi, and Heath Ledger for his memorable role as Joker. James Dean is the only one to receive two Oscar nominations after his death, for his roles in East of Eden in 1955 and Giant in 1956. Only two of the seven won an Oscar, though – Finch won in the Best Actor category for his performance in 1976’s Network and Ledger in the Best Supporting Actor category for 2008’s The Dark Knight.
Boseman passed away on August 28, 2020, after a four-year battle against colon cancer. The adaptation of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was released by Netflix three months later. Even though Boseman was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2016, after his death, none of his crew members on the film seemed to even know of his diagnosis. Seven months after his death, the Oscar nomination has brought a sense of joy to everyone he knew and all of his fans. Boseman has been nominated alongside Riz Ahmed for Sound of Metal, Anthony Hopkins for The Father, Gary Oldman for Mank, and Steven Yeun for Minari.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which marked Boseman’s last on-screen performance, had him appear along with Viola Davis, who also happened to make some Oscars history herself. The versatile Davis received her fourth Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Ma Rainey, making her the most-nominated Black actress in Hollywood history and the only Black woman with two Best Actress Oscar nominations. She has previously been nominated for Doubt, The Help, and Fences, with the last nomination resulting in an Oscar win in the Best Supporting Actress category.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is available to stream on Netflix.