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The late Chadwick Boseman is the fourth Black actor to win a Golden Globe for dramatic lead

From left, Chadwick Boseman as Levee from Netflix's "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."
From left, Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Glynn Turman as Toldeo, Michael Potts as Slow Drag and Colman Domingo as Cutler in a scene from Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
(David Lee / Netflix)

Chadwick Boseman’s posthumous win at the Golden Globes for his role as the horn player Levee in Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” continues what is widely perceived to be an awards season journey to the Oscars.

“He would say something beautiful,” said his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, who accepted the award on his behalf. “Something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells us you can, that tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history …. I don’t have his words, but we have to take all the moments to celebrate those we love …. And hon, you keep ‘em coming. Thank you.”

The late actor, who died in August at 43 after battling colon cancer for three years, beat out fellow nominees Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”), Gary Oldman (“Mank”) and Tahar Rahim (“The Mauritanian”) for the distinction.

Boseman also becomes only the fourth Black actor to win in the Globes category of lead actor in a motion picture, drama, following Sidney Poitier for “Lilies of the Field” in 1964, Denzel Washington for “The Hurricane” in 2000 and Forest Whitaker for “The Last King of Scotland” in 2007.

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The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the 87-member organization which votes for the Golden Globe Awards, has faced widespread criticism this year in the wake of a Times investigation into ethical lapses. Among the investigation’s findings was the fact the group has no Black members. The fallout included an organized Time’s Up social media protest urging the HFPA: “A cosmetic fix isn’t enough.”

Adapted from the August Wilson play, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was directed by George C. Wolfe and written for the screen by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. It stars fellow Globes nominee Viola Davis in the titular role, who called her late costar “an artist” and “an absolute joy” in a piece remembering the beloved actor’s legacy.

Boseman made SAG Awards history earlier this month as the first person to ever receive four nominations in a single year in the film categories, earning recognition for his lead role in “Ma Rainey,” his supporting role in Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” another Netflix release, and his work in the ensemble casts of both films.

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He also earned Gotham and Spirit nominations for “Ma Rainey” as well as winner or runner-up honors from the Chicago, Los Angeles and National Society of Film Critics groups. The attention and acclaim has made him a front-runner to receive a lead actor nod at the Academy Awards.

Should the “Black Panther” star receive an Oscar nomination when they are announced on March 15, he will become the fifth actor to receive a posthumous lead actor nomination alongside James Dean (“East of Eden” and “Giant”), Peter Finch (“Network”), Spencer Tracy (“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”) and Massimo Troisi (“Il Postino”).


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