Chadwick Boseman Remembered as ‘Incredible Artist’ at Critics Choice Celebration of Black Cinema

Chadwick Boseman in MaRainey's Black Bottom Trailer (Courtesy of Netflix)

Chadwick Boseman was posthumously presented with the performance of the year award Tuesday night during the third annual Critics Choice Association’s “Celebration of Black Cinema.”

Boseman was recognized for his role as musician Levee Green in the Netflix drama Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The film’s director, George C. Wolfe, accepted the award on the late actor’s behalf.

“Chadwick Boseman was an amazing artist. We’ve all been thrilled and excited and overwhelmed by the depth of his work and his performance,” Wolfe said during the virtual ceremony.

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He then shared a story about how Boseman tried to reassure his teenage co-star Dusan Brown, when the actor had doubts about his performance.

“But first I want to talk about what it was like to work with him as an artist. I want to tell a very specific story… And I didn’t know this story, but Dusan said at the time his nerves just took over and he was starting to freak out just as we were about ready to shoot him, and he said Chadwick pulled him aside and said, ‘We are here for you. We are here to support you. This is your moment, and that’s why all of us are here.’ What an astonishing, incredible, generous thing for someone to do for another actor. That was Chadwick. He was so present, not just as an actor, but he was present as a human being,” the playwright and director said.

Wolfe then called Boseman an “extraordinary human being.”

“On behalf of Chadwick’s wife Simone and his family, I am pleased and honored to accept the performance of the year award for Chadwick Boseman — an incredible artist, extraordinary human being. A light, an energy, a power. He had it all. Thank you,” he said.

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was the final film Boseman appeared in before he passed away last August after privately battling colon cancer.

Among other Critics Choice winners,  the career achievement award went to Da 5 Bloods’ Delroy Lindo, and the group’s first Social Justice award was given to former American Football League player, Olympic gold medalist and activist Tommie Smith, who is the subject of the documentary With Drawn Arms.

Another highlight of the night was when John Legend performed his single “Never Break” after being presented with the producers award alongside Mike Jackson for their documentary Giving Voice.

The Critics Choice Association represents more than 400 television, radio and online critics and entertainment reporters in the U.S. and Canada.

Read the full list of the winners below:

Career Achievement Award
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods

Performance of the Year Award
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

The Actor Award
Tessa Thompson – Sylvie’s Love

Social Justice Award
Tommie Smith – With Drawn Arms

The Producers Award
John Legend and Mike Jackson – Giving Voice

The Director Award
Shaka King – Judas and the Black Messiah

Next Gen Award
Zendaya and John David Washington – Malcolm & Marie

The Ensemble Award
Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami

Special Honoree
Andra Day – The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Breakthrough Award
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – The Trial of the Chicago 7