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Why Oscars 2021 Broadcast Saved Best Actor for Last


Steven Soderbergh explains why the Best Actor category was the final award at the Oscars, after Anthony Hopkins upset frontrunner Chadwick Boseman.

One of the producers for this year’s Oscars ceremony explains why the Best Actor category was moved to the end of the show. The 2021 Academy Awards was already very peculiar with the ceremony being delayed two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For considerations to safety protocols, the show was held at Los Angeles Union Station rather than the customary Dolby Theatre. It was announced back in December that Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher, and director Steven Soderbergh would produce the award show.

One of the many risks that the producers took for this year’s Oscars was the reorganization of major categories, including several towards the end of the show. Breaking with tradition, Best Picture was the third to last category presented in the evening while Best Actor was presented last right after Best Actress, leading many viewers to believe that the late Chadwick Boseman would win his respective category for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and that the show would end on an emotional note with a speech from his widow. Instead, the show abruptly ended after Anthony Hopkins was announced the winner for his performance in The Father, and was not able to attend to accept his award.

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ET Canada now reports that Soderbergh, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, shared his reasoning for the risky decision, commenting that he was intending to focus on moments that would come through acceptance speeches. Soderbergh has previously stated before the ceremony that he had intended to shoot the award show like a film with the opening credits of the Oscars listing the presenters as part of an ensemble cast. His full statement about mixing the categories can be seen below:

“That was something we were going to do well before the nominations came out — we talked about that in January. It’s our belief — that I think is not unfounded — that actors’ speeches tend to be more dramatic than producers’ speeches. And so we thought it might be fun to mix it up, especially if people didn’t know that was coming….When the nominations came out and there was even the possibility that Chadwick could win posthumously, our feeling was if he were to win and his widow were to speak on his behalf, there would be nowhere to go after that. So we stuck with it…So it wasn’t like we assumed it would, but if there was even a possibility that it would happen, then you have to account for that. That would have been such a shattering moment, that to come back after that would have been just impossible.”

the father anthony hopkins
Anthony Hopkins in The Father

While Boseman was deemed the frontrunner by many pundits and viewers, having picked up a Golden Globe Award, Critics Choice Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award as Best Actor for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, he was not considered a sure thing like other categories of the night. Hopkins ended up winning the BAFTA Award against Boseman, being the first sign that Boseman was vulnerable and not a lock. And given the fact that Hopkins was forbidden to make a virtual appearance at the Oscars, the decision was a big risk to take, especially if Boseman’s win did not pan out, which turned out to be the case.

The last time the Academy Awards did not end the night with Best Picture was in 1972 when Charlie Chaplin received an Academy Honorary Award. With the ceremony receiving an expected all-time lowest in ratings, it is not unreasonable for Soderbergh and the producers to make some changes to the award show to spark conversation, however, this change was considered unnecessary for many viewers, who felt that both Boseman and Hopkins deserved better, regardless of the outcome of the category. While it would have been a touching moment for the Oscars to end with a tribute to Boseman’s legacy, the moment that did not end up happening for the producers should serve as an example that Best Picture should always be presented as the final award.

Next: All Chadwick Boseman Movies, Ranked

Source: ET Canada

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