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The tearjerking Chadwick Boseman awards campaign has begun

As the Golden Globes and Oscars delayed their ceremonies with a widened eligibility window, the also-delayed secondary precursor awards are starting to dish out their trophies. Chadwick Boseman, who died last August from complications related to colon cancer, looms large over this year’s award circuit for his work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Da 5 Bloods. At Monday night’s Gotham Awards, Boseman didn’t take home the Best Actor trophy — which instead went to Riz Ahmed for Sound of Metal — but he was given a special Actor Tribute Award.

Boseman’s widow, Simone Ledward Boseman, was on the Zoom call to accept his honor. In a tearful, incredibly moving acceptance speech, Ledward Boseman paid special attention to his honesty and fiercely determined work ethic:

“He is the most honest person I've ever met because he didn't just stop at speaking the truth, he actively searched for it. In himself, in those around him and in the moment... The truth can be a very easy thing for the self to avoid, but if one does not live in truth, then it's impossible to live in line with a divine purpose for your life. And so it became how he lived his life, day in, day out. Imperfect, but determined.”

Ledward Boseman spoke about her husband’s acute understanding of his role as an inspiration and source of joy for so many others. Right near the end, she addressed her late husband directly. “Chad, thank you. I love you. I am so proud of you. Keep shining your light on us,” she said.

The Gothams, typically a bit more outre in their taste than the larger award shows, nonetheless handed Best Feature and the Audience Award to the presumed Oscar frontrunner, Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland. Nicole Beharie took home Best Actress for Miss Juneteenth, with Watchmen and I May Destroy You winning for Breakthrough Series, long and short form, respectively.

Boseman enters awards season as a heavy favorite to win a posthumous Best Actor Oscar for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, a ferocious, commanding final performance that encapsulates his wide range of talent. Whether or not he takes home the Academy’s top acting prize, the next few months stand to be a heartrending, moving celebration of his work and impact.