Chadwick Boseman's Oscar hype has nothing to do with pity

His performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is the best of the year

Chadwick Boseman.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Netflix, iStock)

There is nothing inherently extraordinary about watching a dead person act. We do it all the time: It's as simple as throwing on an old James Bond or Harry Potter movie, or a silent film. The camera functions as a fountain of youth; actors are immortalized by the shadows they leave on theater walls, and the pixels they light up on our TVs.

But watching Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom — his final film before he died in August at age 43 after a secret battle with colon cancer — is different, because it is extraordinary. Already there is justified talk of the actor being a shoo-in for an Oscar. Only, don't let it be talk tainted by sentimentality, or some misguided notion of "honoring his legacy," or atoning for the fact that he was never nominated during his lifetime. Boseman deserves the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the simple reason that this year, that's exactly who he was.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us