The late actor was nominated for his performance as trumpet player Levee Green in the adaptation of August Wilson’s 1982 play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which was released on Netflix in November. It was Boseman’s final film performance, as he died of cancer in August at age 43.
Legendary actor Anthony Hopkins won the Best Actor award for his performance in “The Father.”
The Best Picture winner was announced before the Best Actor winner on Sunday — a shift from tradition that many initially speculated was done so the ceremony could end with a tribute to Boseman. Instead, it led many people to be even more disappointed when the actor’s name was not called:
Boseman’s performance as Levee Green has earned him wide praise this awards season.
He won a posthumous award in the Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama category at the Golden Globes in February, as well as an NAACP Image Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. He also made history this year by becoming the first person to score four SAG Award nominations in a single year.
Boseman also received the Best Actor award at the 12th annual African American Film Critics Association Awards earlier this month.
Boseman’s wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, accepted that award on his behalf, delivering a powerful tribute to the late actor and his work in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which also stars Viola Davis as the famous blues singer.
“He would be so grateful for the recognition of everything that he gave to Levee Green,” Ledward said. “While the work would always remain paramount, the work is made possible by the process. The process allows you to reach your inner voice, so you have to protect it.”
“Thank you, Chad, for always doing the work,” she added.
If Boseman had won, he would have been the second actor to posthumously win the Best Actor award. Peter Finch won for his performance in the 1976 film “Network.”
Heath Ledger won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in “The Dark Knight.” The movie premiered in July 2008, several months after he died.