Netflix shares the trailer for Chadwick Boseman's final film role 'Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom'
(Credit: Netflix)
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Legacy of excellence: The best Chadwick Boseman films available on Netflix

Today marks would have been Chadwick Boseman’s 44th birthday, had the legend not been snatched away from us by the evil hands of death. To regard Boseman for being a beloved superhero would be dishonouring his splendid legacy. A manifestation of excellence and exuberance, he was a ‘late bloomer’ in Hollywood for having bagged his first major role at 35 in the film 42 as Jackie Robinson. Boseman outperformed himself in every demanding role, facing obstacles with determination and perseverance. This helped him ascend the ladder to become one of the most beloved and enigmatic Hollywood stars. 

“When you are deciding on next steps, next jobs, next careers, further education, you should rather find purpose than a job or a career,” he once said. “Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history.”

Boseman passed away unexpectedly, a devastating loss which arrived after a tremendously difficult battle with colon cancer. One of his quotes eerily reflected his fateful and untimely demise. “You have to cherish things in a different way when you know the clock is ticking, you are under pressure”. 

Chadwick’s handsome face and toothy smile were reflective of the kindness and compassion that resided within him. Well-known as T’Challa or Black Panther, he is truly honourable and dignified. As Marvel Studios CCO Kevin Feige said, Boseman’s untimely death had been “absolutely devastating”. He reminisced Boseman’s onset presence by saying, “Each time he stepped on set, he radiated charisma and joy, and each time he appeared on screen, he created something truly indelible […] Now he takes his place [as] an icon for the ages”.

We have a bone to pick with Netflix for featuring only three of his films. While we get to see Boseman’s final performance in the posthumously released Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, it still does not discount the fact that Netflix has not done enough justice to the talented legend. Boseman was known for immortalising the characters and adding a profound depth and lingering charisma that enticed the audience. 

While we mourn the loss of an excellent legend and shed tears at not being able to celebrate his 44th birthday today, let us take a look at Chadwick Boseman’s films featuring on Netflix. Let us also sincerely hope that Netflix starts streaming films like Marshall, 42 and more. We miss you Chadwick, and your seminal legacy will live on in our hearts forever. Rest in love and warmth and happiness and peace. 

Wakanda Forever! Chadwick Boseman forever!

The Chadwick Boseman Films on Netflix:

3. Message from the King (Fabrice Du Welz, 2016)

Chadwick Boseman played Jacob King, a man from Cape Town, who travelled to Los Angeles after his estranged sister Bianca delivers a strange message disguising a cry for help. After he reaches L.A., he finds out about her disappearance and subsequent death, following which he embarks on a perilous journey to seek revenge.

Although the film received mixed reviews, Boseman was praised highly for his enigmatic on-screen presence and the perfect accent. Boseman carries the film forward on his able shoulders. The film was inspired by Soderbergh’s The Limey and is an attempt at a stylized neo-noir which fails to engage the audience due to the muddled script. 

2. Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee, 2020)

Reflective of the deep gashes and wounds left by the Vietnam war, the film follows the journey of war veterans who return to the country to try and find the remains of their deceased squad leader, “Stormin” Norman Earl Holloway, as well as the gold bars they received as a payment from the Lahu people for aiding the Viet Cong. 

Chadwick Boseman plays the fallen squad leader who was fearless in his rage against the exploitation of Black soldiers by the US Army. The men romanticised the courage of Stormin, and are haunted by his untimely demise. it is not the kind of film you expect as it has a shocking amount of greed and fear, “verging on action-movie melodrama and farce”, yet ends on a hopeful and cathartic note. Boseman is fantastic on-screen, adding to the caustic war-ridden horror that dominates the film.  

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (George C. Wolfe, 2020) 

It is difficult to watch Geroge C. Wolfe’s screen adaptation of August Wilson’s play as it is a painful reminder of being Chadwick Boseman’s last film. Boseman played the ambitious and hot-headed trumpeter Leeve and breathes in life in his portrayal of a skilful and humble yet problematic and tragically flawed black man. As Justin Chang said: “He [Boseman] imparts to this seething, shattered man the gift of a broken soul, riven by anger and trauma, and makes him all the more human for it. His final moments of screen time are among his darkest, and also his finest.” Boseman’s one particular monologue is a chilling foretelling of his future off-screen. “I got my time coming.”

A celebration of Black artists and legends, the film refers to the larger-than-life ‘Mother of Blues’ Ma Rainey, whose controlling trumpeter Leeve, like the white managers, is determined to control her career, leading to unbelievable tension. It is a dramatic and harrowing account of the unbridgeable gap between the contribution of Blacks to America and the treatment they receive at the hands of white people. 

“They don’t care nothing about me. All they want is my voice.”

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