By John H. Foote
The answer is absolutely.
The late actor, who passed away August 28 after a quiet, dignified battle with cancer, could very well be a double nominee this year, earning nominations for Best Actor in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and for Best Supporting Actor for his superb, haunting performance in Da Five Bloods, both Netflix films.
In a strange year at the movies, in a bizarre year for the Oscars, streaming movies are going to make their mark I suspect, at long last. After the backlash against Netflix that took place last year at the expense of Martin Scorsese and The Irishman, this could indeed be the year for the streaming company turned movie maker. Like last year, they will likely dominate the nominations with a bounty of great films that should bring the other studios to great shame.
Last year The Irishman racked up 10 nominations, leading the race, along with Marriage Story with 6, meaning the streaming company had arrived. The year before their film Roma won three Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Foreign Language film, breaking down the door for streaming groups to win awards. Amazon had previously saw Manchester By the Sea win Best Actor for Casey Affleck, so we were clear that the streamers were winners and here to stay. The humiliation brought down on Netflix and The Irishman, specifically Martin Scorsese, was both cheap and cruel, a petty action that was shameful.
Can the Academy make amends? To Scorsese, I doubt it, but to Netflix, they need to apologize.
It is going to be an interesting morning the day the nominations are announced.
This could be historical with the late great Chadwick Boseman earning nominations in two categories, and he could join Peter Finch and Heath Ledger as posthumous winners. James Dean was twice nominated posthumously for East of Eden (1955) and again the following year in Giant (1956) though that would have been stronger in the supporting actor category, and he might have won. Boseman made the jump to super stardom with his sterling performance as Black Panther in the Avengers franchise, giving a heroic, grand performance in the stand alone Black Panther which was the first comic super hero film nominated for Best Picture. A great reason for that was the regal performance of Boseman as the title character.
This year he haunted audiences as Stormin’ Norman in Spike Lee’s ghostly Vietnam film Da Five Bloods in which a group of friends who fought in the war return to try and find the bones of their friend, killed during a firefight, and bring him home. Incidentally the have some gold bars they buried with him that they hope to find as well. Rather than cast younger look alike actors as the younger versions of the men, Lee allows the older actors to appear in the scenes in Vietnam, but Norman is youthful, forever young in their minds. The powerful scene when the ghost of Norman confronts the man who accidentally shot him is overwhelming in the raw, primal power of the moment, and the cries of sorrow, are like the howls of the damned. For that scene alone he should take supporting actor.
But there is more.
Boseman is brilliant is the film version of the stage musical Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and could very well win the Academy Award as Best Actor, he is that spectacular. For the last few months it seemed Anthony Hopkins was headed for that Best Actor award for The Father, which would be his second, but recent screenings have catapulted Boseman into the top spot.
The thing is it will not be a sentimental award to celebrate a young man who died far before his time. As it was for Heath Ledger, it will be a much-deserved award, winning for either. Posthumous nominations do not happen often but when they do it is exciting to see that a performance is so remembered. If Boseman is nominated twice, and I hope he is, I will cheer the Academy for their courage, and should he win, I will stand up and cheer for the courage in awarding this gifted young man, who is forever immortal on the screen.
Like Heath Ledger’s immortal Joker in The Dark Knight, a win for Boseman in either category would be richly deserved and not a sentimental choice because he died, which frankly is insulting to suggest.
Here is hoping …
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.