Prior to 2018, Chadwick Boseman was known primarily for his acclaimed turns as real life historical figures like Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. It was the title role as Black Panther in the MCU juggernaut where he created his own history in the only superhero flick to nab a Best Picture nomination.
2020 is shaping up to be the year where awards voters recognize Mr. Boseman. It is, of course, also the year in which the world mourned his passing on August 28 after a previously undisclosed battle with colon cancer at age 43. His turns in two Netflix pictures – Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods and George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – have him in the running for Oscar nods and he could very conceivably get two. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association named him Best Actor for Rainey and the Academy may well follow suit. The New York Film Critics Circle bestowed their Supporting Actor prize for his work in Bloods and he could make his way to that Oscar shortlist.
In a year where the world of cinema lost legends such as Sean Connery, Kirk Douglas, Ennio Morricone, and Max Von Sydow, Boseman’s came as the most unexpected with an outpouring of grief and appreciation. His final year onscreen appears destined to come with the Academy’s recognition of the man who embodied real life heroes and created his own iconic one.