Could Chadwick Boseman win a posthumous Oscar? The Black Panther hero will be in contention for leading actor awards after Netflix confirmed it would put the late, lamented star forward for awards consideration for its upcoming movie, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
The feature film is based on a 1982 stage play of the same name by Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson and in it Boseman plays the ambitious, modernist trumpeter in the band which backs the titular Ma Rainey, played by Viola Davis, who Netflix is also recommending for leading actress recognition, according to EW.
Boseman died at age 43 in August after losing a long fight with colon cancer, which he managed to keep secret from producers, cast and crew on his last films. His death sparked a wave of genuine and profound sorrow in the film industry and among the movie-going public.
His role as T’Challa in the Marvel film Black Panther, the first black superhero movie with a predominantly black cast, had come to symbolise more than just another big-screen hero.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is set in 1920s Chicago, and follows Ma Rainey’s Black band members and white record producers as they both try to get Davis’ stubborn “Mother of Blues” to lay down some of her songs. As ambitious trumpeter Levee, Boseman is a foil to Davis to the combative Ma Rainey.
Davis, who won a Best Actress Oscar in 2012 for her role in The Help, said: “Levee represents everything that is antithetical towards her belief system. He is representative of a new phase of music that will render her extinct. He is unruly and undisciplined.”
Boseman will most likely be in categories alongside the likes of Anthony Hopkins, whose performance in The Father is generating intense awards buzz. The late actor may also be up against his co-star in Spike Lee’s Netflix movie Da 5 Bloods, Delroy Lindo.
It’s thought that Boseman’s role as Stormin’ Norman in Da 5 Bloods could earn him supporting actor nominations.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom will stream on Netflix from Friday 18th December.