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ACTOR RANKED: Chadwick Boseman

In just a few short years, he has gone from being a relatively unknown aspiring director and supporting actor to biopic leading man, portraying real life African American icons of sport, entertainment and law. Stepping into the role of fictional African superhero Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the name Chadwick Boseman became more than a fully fledged household name, and once he received the title of “Most Popular U.S. Actor in China” at the 13th Annual Chinese American Film Festival, he solidified his status as an international superstar.

Though he has a perpetually youthful babyface, Boseman always commands the screen with a kind of quiet determination and with strength in his eyes. Although his own style effortlessly comes…

  • Black Panther

    1.Black Panther

    ★★★★½

    He might be the title character, but there are a lot of personalities stealing scenes here and certainly a few performances that are more enthralling than his. Still, in a film filled to the brim with great, well-rounded, well-written characters played by an incredible ensemble cast in which there is no weak link, Chadwick Boseman is more than just a superhero or just a King. He is the grounding point that ties everyone together and off of which everyone plays. He is Black Panther, but he is also playing the idea of Wakanda itself. And whether he’s playing it calm as a cat or as a forceful feline, he dictates the mood of the entire film while embodying courage and confidence. Boseman’s performance could really make or break this film. Thank goodness, he really makes it!

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  • 42

    2.42

    ★★★★

    With baseball as America's favorite pastime, 42 is the essence of a subvertive all American feel good movie, similar in ways to A League of Their Own. Jackie Robinson is naturally easy to root for on the field in his own biopic, but Boseman's portrayal picks up the stakes outside of the game as well, fully fleshing out the man behind the sport. Even against Harrison Ford throwing a curveball of a character performance, Boseman, in his first leading role in a major film, absolutely holds his own.

  • Captain America: Civil War

    3.Captain America: Civil War

    ★★★★

    Though it is a Captain America movie in name, and really an Avengers movie in content, Civil War serves yet another purpose as a Black Panther origin movie. More than just an introduction to the character, we witness some of the driving forces that really set the character up for his own film, and Boseman nails the role even this early on with strength, emotion and a great physical prowess. He steals every single scene in which he appears, whether in or out of costume, and against all other fan favorite characters.

  • Get on Up

    4.Get on Up

    ★★★

    Boseman's roles are usually of collected, but formidable, characters. In Get on Up, he is able to step outside of himself to show the kind of free and unhinged nature of funk and rock star James Brown. When not hidden under a thick old age make-up prosthetic, Boseman is able to channel that one of a kind charisma, as well as the emblematic natural rhythm and physicality. Although the movie does slide into camp and caricature from time to time, Boseman remains entirely committed to owning his performance.

  • Marshall

    5.Marshall

    ★★★

    Marshall is partial historical drama biopic and partial film noir crime mystery disguised as a light-hearted Josh Gad flick. But even as the film downplays the seriousness of the situation, and the title character is often not the film's focus and/or forced to be silent, Boseman pushes through with the material's given, delivering a robust performance with solid monologues from an average script. Marshall certainly has its share of humor, but anytime Boseman speaks, importance hangs on every word.

  • Message from the King

    6.Message from the King

    ★★★

    It may be your typical revenge thriller in story, but Message from the King is filled with small but great character performances, from the likes of Alfred Molina, Tom Felton and Luke Evans among others, as the story steadily climbs that chain of command. Through it all, Boseman continues to outshine those around him and own the screen. His portrayal is both passionate and dangerous and though he would make his screen debut as Black Panther in this same year, Message from the King certainly lands a good step in his move towards becoming an action star.

  • Avengers: Infinity War

    7.Avengers: Infinity War

    ★★★★

    In Avengers: Infinity War, Boseman returns for his third outing as Marvel's Black Panther, a pop culture icon at this point. While his country of Wakanda serves as a battle field for war and he is a major part of an epic and devastating climax, Black Panther himself doesn't actually get much screen time as all of the superheroes here have to play fair and share. Still, both as Black Panther and out of costume as King T'Challa, Boseman portrays a leader that is shown to be greater than the leadership of even Captain America.

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  • Draft Day

    8.Draft Day

    ★★½

    While Draft Day revolves around Kevin Costner, a general manager recruiting players on one of the biggest days within the NFL, one of those important players that he must consider is Chadwick Boseman. It’s not a meaty role, but Boseman makes it his own, bringing a character that is determined, charismatic and full of purpose while still being as brash as we expect football players to be. He may only show up a couple of times in the film, but those moments are significant.

  • The Kill Hole

    9.The Kill Hole

    ★★

    Every career starts somewhere, even one that seemingly happens overnight. The Kill Hole, Boseman's first leading role in a feature film, is a low budget slow burn of a military thriller. His performance both gives weight to and lifts it up what would otherwise be pretty forgettable. Not long later, in the same year as this movie in fact, Boseman's lead role in 42 would really spark a light under his name and send him straight to the big leagues, but it's nice to see him in something a little raw and less polished here.

  • Gods of Egypt

    10.Gods of Egypt

    ★½

    Setting aside the wonderment of why the movie was even made at all, Gods of Egypt is a practice in how to do everything wrong. Boseman is one of the more memorable parts of the film, though even his performance as the god Thoth comes across a little silly. He stands out in the crowd as one of very few naturally brown skinned people in this whitewashed representation of Egypt, and is really the only significant one in the whole film. In some scenes, he himself is the crowd, having multiplied himself. Perhaps the producers of this movie thought they could use duplicates of one black actor to offset all of the white ones. Perhaps I shouldn't set aside the idea that this movie shouldn't have been made at all.

  • Avengers: Endgame

    11.Avengers: Endgame

    ★★★★

    Over a decade of movies culminate into the Russo Bros. epic battle for existence in Avengers: Endgame. Though Black Panther and the rest of Wakanda’s heroes have been established as important players in the MCU, they, and so many others, take quite a side step to the original Avengers team here. So, while the film is a thrill of its own, and Chadwick Boseman gets a fun moment to show off, he’s just not in it enough for it to be placed higher on this list.

  • 9 Kisses

    12.9 Kisses

    This short film featuring pairings of actors in a series of intimate moments is kind of editorial, kind of experimental, kind of exploratory and altogether odd. With no dialogue, no specifically told backstory, minimal sets and lighting and uncomfortably bad sound effects and editing, there isn't really much to go by other than the actual kisses themselves. Chadwick Boseman is basically an entertainer prop for fan Kristen Stewart to plant a kiss on, and still comes out the better actor of his segment.