Oscars producer explains controversial decision to end show with Best Actor category

Steven Soderbergh said that it would have been to difficult to follow a Boseman win

Annabel Nugent
Wednesday 05 May 2021 08:45
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Anthony Hopkins wins Best Actor at Academy Awards

Oscar producer Steven Soderbergh has confirmed why the Best Actor category was moved to the end of this year’s Academy Awards.

Viewers who tuned into the Oscars last month were baffled as to why the evening ended on the Best Actor Award, a decision that rendered the ceremony’s conclusion somewhat anticlimactic.

Best Picture – typically the night’s last award – was announced before both Best Actress and Best Actor, leaving the last prize of the night to be accepted by presenter Joaquin Phoenix on behalf of The Father’s Anthony Hopkins, who was not in attendance. 

Now, Soderbergh has addressed the confusion and explained the reasons behind the controversial decision.

The Ocean’s Eleven director told The LA Times: “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 what was coming. So that was always part of the plan.” 

He also addressed speculation that the Best Actor category was moved to the end because bosses had predicted the late Chadwick Boseman – whose widow Taylor Simone Ledward was in attendance at the ceremony – would win the prize for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Soderbergh said that if Boseman had won, it would have been a “shattering” moment that was too difficult to follow.

“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,” said Soderbergh.

When asked whether he had been expecting Boseman to win, the director responded: “If there was even the sliver of a chance that he would win and that his widow would speak, then we were operating under the fact that was the end of the show.

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“That would have been such a shattering moment, that to come back after that would have been just impossible.”

In reality, the Oscars ended on a flat note when Best Actor was awarded to Hopkins who was unable to attend the ceremony. The 83-year-old had appealed to appear via Zoom but had his request denied. 

In the wake of his loss, Boseman’s family publicly stated that they did not believe it to be a “snub”.

The Black Panther star’s brother Derrick went on to say that the Boseman family wished to congratulate Hopkins, as “I’m sure [Anthony] would if Chad won”. 

In a belated acceptance speech shared to his social media accounts, Hopkins paid tribute to Boseman from Wales.

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