Chadwick Boseman's last performance is a bittersweet gift

A version of this story appeared in CNN’s Pop Life Chronicles newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here. Tell us what you’d like to see more of in the newsletter at

Get ready to grieve all over again.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” in which Chadwick Boseman performed for a final time prior to his death in August at age 43, premieres on Friday on Netflix.
Boseman plays ambitious trumpeter Levee in this film, based on the 1982 play of the same name by August Wilson.
    Boseman’s peformance is both moving and haunting, especially with the hindsight that throughout production he was battling the colon cancer that would eventually take his life.
    “While ‘Black Panther’ remains an enormous part of Boseman’s legacy, his flashy, fast-talking role here — using music as a means of seduction — demonstrates his extraordinary range and, at least while watching, nearly erases considerations beyond what’s on screen, which is no small feat,” my CNN colleague Brian Lowry wrote in his review.
    Boseman is just one actor whose last project became a bittersweet gift.
    Heath Ledger won a posthumous Academy Award for his performance as the Joker in "The Dark Knight."

    Heath Ledger: The actor filmed two projects prior to his death at the age of 28 from accidental acute drug intoxication in 2008.
    His role as the Joker in “The Dark Knight” won him a posthumous Academy Award for best supporting actor, while his role in “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” was recast.
    Watching Ledger as the Joker is a wonderment because as talented as we all knew he was, his performance in that role far surpassed any of his prior work.
    The late Paul Walker found fame starring in the "Fast & Furious" franchise.

    Paul Walker: No spoilers, but one of the saddest moments of “Furious 7” is the final shot of Paul Walker.
    Walker died in a car crash in 2013, and the movie was completed using technology and his two brothers, Caleb and Cody Walker, as his body doubles. He was 40.
    The “Fast & Furious” franchise has been one of the most successful in cinema history, and Walker was a huge part of that.
    "Sparkle" was dedicated to actress and iconic vocalist Whitney Houston, who died six months before its release in 2012.

    Whitney Houston: Houston starred as a mother in this musical remake about a group of sisters who form a singing group.
    “Sparkle” hit theaters months after she was found dead in 2012 at age 48.
    Her performance of “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” for the film’s soundtrack was a reminder that the world lost not only a talented actress, but also one of the greatest vocalists of our time.
    While stars like this leave us with their art to remember and celebrate them, they also leave us with the grief that we won’t have the opportunity to see them create again.

    For your weekend

    Three things to watch:
    The late Alex Trebek hosted "Jeopardy!" for 36 years.

    ‘Jeopardy!’ collection
    This famous game show lost its beloved host recently.
    The last episodes Alex Trebek filmed before his death from pancreatic cancer in November will run in syndication through December, but Netflix is streaming some championship gems from the show’s archive beginning Friday.
    Danesh Razvi as Kabir Durrani (left) and Tanya Maniktala as Lata Mehra (right) star in "A Suitable Boy."

    ‘A Suitable Boy’
    Based on the global bestseller by Vikram Seth and directed by Mira Nair, this dramatic miniseries is set in North India in the 1950s. It follows 19-year-old university student Lata Mehra (Tanya Maniktala), whose life is mapped out for her, thanks to steadfast traditions and a mother who wants to find her a suitable husband.
    Torn between romance and responsibility, and inspired by rebellious writers and daring new ideas, Lata is determined to decide her own future in a newly independent India, boldly breaking free of its past.
    “A Suitable Boy” is currently streaming on Acorn TV.
    Hannah Ware as Katia and Rupert Friend as the assassin star in "Hitman: Agent 47."

    ‘Hitman: Agent 47’
    If you need some action, this film centers on an elite assassin, played by Rupert Friend, who was genetically engineered from conception to be the perfect killing machine.
    Known only by the last two digits on the bar code tattooed on the back of his neck, Agent 47 is the culmination of decades of research — and 46 earlier agent clones — endowing him with unprecedented strength, speed, stamina and intelligence.
    The assassin teams up with Katia (played by Hannah Ware), a young woman who may hold the key to overcoming a mega corporation that plans to unlock the secret of his past to create an army of killers. Agent 47 must confront his own origin and his deadliest foe.
    “Hitman: Agent 47” is streaming on Hulu.
    Two things to listen to:
    Sir Paul McCartney performs in concert.

    Macca is back.
    Paul McCartney is releasing on Friday “McCartney III,” the third in his trilogy that includes “McCartney,” released in 1970, and “McCartney II” in 1980.
    His 18th solo studio album comes as he marks 50 years since he released his self-titled first solo album. According to his site, McCartney had no plans to release an album this year, but he had some time on his hands, like the rest of us.
    Patrick Carney (left) and Dan Auerbach (right) of The Black Keys are releasing a deluxe remastered anniversary edition of "Brothers."

    It has been a decade since The Black Keys released their Grammy-winning album, “Brothers,” and the rock band is celebrating with a deluxe remastered anniversary edition.
    This version, which drops Friday, includes three bonus songs: “Keep My Name Outta Your Mouth,” “Black Mud Part II” and “Chop and Change.”
    So get ready to “Tighten Up,” Black Keys fans.
    Rachel Lindsay (left) celebrates her birthday with then fiance, Bryan Abasolo (right), at Rivers Casino Philadelphia, formerly SugarHouse Casino, on April 21, 2018.

    One thing to talk about:
    While the current season of “The Bachelorette” barrels toward the finale on December 22, some attention is being paid to a former “Bachelorette” and her pick.
    Rachel Lindsay, who made history as the show’s first Black “Bachelorette” back in Season 13, married contestant Bryan Abasolo last year, but they currently aren’t living together.
    But fret not, as Lindsay recently explained during a conversation on the “Whine Down With Jana Kramer and Michael Caussin” podcast. There is no trouble in paradise.
    “Everyone thinks we’re getting a divorce,” Lindsay joked.
    Lindsay moved to Los Angeles and Abasolo is still in Miami. The couple didn’t spend Thanksgiving together, but Lindsay said they will definitely be together for Christmas.
    “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” franchise doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to marriages, so it’s understandable that some in Bachelor Nation would raise concern over the couple’s bicoastal living arrangement. That type of attention may factor into why so many of the show’s relationships have ultimately failed.
    Well, that, and the fact that reality romance is more vacation love than reality.
    But considering the abundant time at home in the age of coronavirus, I think a lot of couples have a new appreciation for healthy space and the proverb “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
    We see you, Rachel.

    Something to sip on

    Lizzo performs during the Brit Awards 2020 ceremony in London on February 18.

    Why can’t we let Lizzo live her life?
    The singer sparked backlash after she shared that she had done a 10-day juice detox.
    Yes, there has been plenty of debate about the effectiveness of detoxes. Lizzo explained, however, that she did it as a reset after overindulging in November on food and drinks that upset her stomach.
    She said she had been hesitant to even share that she had done the detox “because I feel like as a big girl, people expect if you are doing something for health, you’re doing it for a dramatic weight loss, and that is not the case.”
    As a plus-size woman who has written a few times about perceptions about Lizzo’s physique, as well as that of other celebrities, I often wonder why we feel the need to police other people’s bodies.
      Lizzo is hardly the first famous person to try a detox (remember reports that Beyoncé did the Master Cleanse to prep for her “Dreamgirls” role?). She’s more than capable of making decisions about her health without us feeling the need to weigh in — no pun intended.
      Pop back here next Thursday for all the latest entertainment happenings that matter.

      Comments are closed.