Chadwick Boseman was nominated for an Academy Award for his last role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” on Monday, half a year after his death.
While the best actor nomination was widely anticipated, it was still historic. Boseman is the first Black actor to be nominated for an Oscar after his death. Steven Yeun (“Minari”), Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”), and Gary Oldman (“Mank”) were also nominated.
Only James Dean, Spencer Tracy, Peter Finch, Ralph Richardson, Massimo Troisi, and Heath Ledger have been nominated since their deaths. Finch for his performance in 1976’s “Network” and Ledger for his performance in 2008’s “The Dark Knight.”
Jeanne Eagels’ role in the 1929 film “The Letter” won her a posthumous nomination for the second Academy Awards.
Many believe Boseman will take home the award for his “best performance of his life.” He also won the Golden Globe for best actor in a drama last month. Taylor Simone Ledward, Boseman’s widow, accepted the award on his behalf.
Boseman died of colon cancer in August of last year, at the age of 43. Three months later, Netflix released the August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Boseman plays Levee, an ambitious trumpeter whose hopes come crashing down during a recording session at a white-owned record label with Ma Rainey (Viola Davis).
Boseman also starred in Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” as a US soldier in the Vietnam War, a role for which he earned critical acclaim. The Screen Actors Guild Awards nominated Boseman posthumously for his roles in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Da 5 Bloods,” both of which he played.
The Academy Awards are covered in detail.
None of Boseman’s collaborators on either film said they were aware of his illness until after his death. In 2016, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.
This is Boseman’s first Academy Award nomination.