While neither took home those awards, they were nevertheless both honored on the night, taking home the Actor Tribute and Actress Tribute awards, respectively. These serve as a lifetime achievement award, celebrating not just the latest work, but the artist's entire filmography.
Nicole Beharie won Best Actress for her work in "Miss Juneteenth," while it was Riz Ahmed's performance in "Sound of Metal" that elevated him to the top position. Nevertheless, Ahmed took a moment during his own acceptance speech to praise Boseman's work.
Taking the stage to honor her late husband, Ledward lauded his honesty and integrity. "As an artist, an actor, and a person, Chad made a practice of telling the truth," she said. "He is the most honest person I've ever met."
This is because, according to Ledward, he wasn't passive in his honesty. "He didn't just stop at speaking the truth, he actively searched for it," she said. "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," she continued. "And so, it became how he lived his life, day in, day out. Imperfect, but determined."
As a result of the way he lived his life, Ledward said that her husband was able to "be totally present in his own life and the lives of the people he became."
In fact, she said he saw himself as a "vessel to be poured into," when it came to his acting work, fully immersing himself in the lives he portrayed, whether they be real people like James Brown, Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson, or fictional characters like Wakanda's King T'Challa or trumpeter Levee Green.
"He developed his understanding of what it meant to be the one, the none and the all," said Ledwell. "He realized when one is able to recognize that their strength does not come from themself, they rarely mess up. That's what he was doing when he was acting; not merely telling a story or reading lines off a page, but modeling for us a path of true fulfillment."
"May we not let his conviction be in vain," she added. "May our spirits be fertile soil for God's wisdom to fall upon."
WINNER (tie): The Forty-Year-Old Version, Radha Blank
WINNER (tie): Fourteen, Dan Sallitt
The Vast of Night, James Montague, Craig Sanger
WINNER: Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Jude Law in The Nest
John Magaro, First Cow
Jesse Plemons, I'm Thinking of Ending Things
WINNER: Nicole Beharie, Miss Juneteenth
Jessie Buckley, I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari
Carrie Coon, The Nest
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Jasmine Batchelor, The Surrogate
WINNER: Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami...
Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Orion Lee, First Cow
Kelly O'Sullivan, Saint Frances
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES - LONG FORMAT
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES - SHORT FORMAT
WINNER: I May Destroy You
Taste the Nation
Work in Progress
The cast of The Trial of the Chicago 7: Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Alex Sharp, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin Fitzgerald, Alice Kremelberg, and Ben Shenkman.