Chadwick Boseman’s Best Actor Oscar nomination this morning for Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom reps the seventh time that an actor has received such a posthumous honor in either the Best Actor or Supporting Actor category from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Boseman’s turn as ambitious cornet player Levee, who raises tensions with the white record label management and spars with his fellow jazz band members in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom reps his first Oscar nomination. Boseman’s nom today was one of five received by the George C. Wolfe directed feature.
Boseman, who made a huge splash as T’Challa in Disney/Marvel’s three-time Oscar winning $1.34 billion grossing feature Black Panther in 2018, died at 43 on Aug. 28, 2020, after a long, quiet battle with colon cancer. His death left the industry shocked and in despair. Not only did the actor play notable Black icons on the big screen such as Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get on Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, but his turn as T’Challa in a superhero tentpole was a cultural phenomenon at a time when the nation was divided, impacted by racism and xenophobia during President Donald Trump’s second year in office.
Boseman’s nomination today follows such posthumous nominated actors as James Dean, Spencer Tracy, Peter Finch, Ralph Richardson, Massimo Troisi, and Heath Ledger.
Finch is the only posthumous nominated actor to win in the Best Actor category to date for his turn in 1976’s Network. Ledger, who played the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 sequel Dark Knight, won Best Supporting Actor. For Finch, it was his second Best Actor nom after 1971’s Sunday Bloody Sunday, with Ledger winning off his second nom after 2005’s Brokeback Mountain.
Dean passed away on Sept. 30, 1955 and in the wake of his death was nominated twice in the Best Actor category for 1955’s East of Eden and 1956’s Giant.
Tracy, who died on June 10, 1967, received a Best Actor nom for Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. It repped Tracy’s ninth Best Actor Oscar nomination after having already won twice in 1938 for Captain Courageous and in 1939 for Boys Town.
Richardson passed away on Oct. 10, 1983 and received what was his second of two career Oscar Supporting Actor noms for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes in 1985. He was previously nominated in 1950 for The Heiress.
Italian actor Troisi, who died on June 4, 1994, subsequently received two 1996 Oscar nominations for Il Postino in the Best Actor category and Best Adapted Screenplay.
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