Making Oscar History: Chadwick Boseman Nominated Posthumously

Sofia Cedeño, Features Editor, Senior

This year’s Oscar nominations caused quite a stir, making history by nominating the late actor Chadwick Boseman for the Best Actor award. With the nomination Boseman joined a list of only seven other actors who were nominated for an Academy Award after their death, and the only Black performer to be nominated for a posthumous Oscar. (Other posthumous nominations went to Jeanne Eagels, James Dean, Spencer Tracy, Peter Finch and Sir Ralph Richardson.) After the tragic loss of this amazing 43 year old actor in August of 2020, his nomination has brought up emotional memories of the contributions that Boseman made to the industry.

Boseman passed away after a four year battle with colon cancer. His death sent shockwaves through the world, as no one outside of his family knew of his condition. After his death, it was revealed that he had been diagnosed at stage three back in 2016, silently fighting the disease for four years.

Boseman is most famous for his role in the Marvel hit Black Panther, taking on the main role of T’Challa and for his performance as Jackie Robinson in the biopic 42 back in 2013. His Oscar recognition came for his role in the Netflix original drama musical Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In the film Boseman plays a talented and ambitious cornet player in a band hired to play backup for blues legend Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (played by Viola Davis) as she records her new album. The film, now available to stream on Netflix, is Boseman’s final film performance. At the time of the January 13 announcement of the Academy Awards nominations, many were happy to see Boseman’s work recognized just five months after his death on August 28.

The movie received five Oscar nominations this year, and won for Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Costume Design. Although Anthony Hopkins was named Best Actor for his performance as Anthony in The Father, Boseman’s  legacy in the entertainment industry will live on for years to come.