It was inevitable that the 2021 Oscars would have an unusual ceremony – but one of the strangest things about it was the decision to end the night on the Best Actor award.
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 Hopkins, who did not attend.
It was a baffling decision, and one that rendered the ending something of a damp squib.
It had been expected that Hopkins’s co-star in The Father, Olivia Colman, would make a speech on his behalf – but that did not materialise.
Some have speculated that bosses moved Best Actor to the end as they had predicted the late Chadwick Boseman would win the prize for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
“Okay but the #Oscars moving Best Actor to the end because everyone thought it was going to be Chadwick and then it turning out to be Sir Anthony, who’s not even there, is objectively hilarious,” tweeted one viewer.
Hopkins, 83, won for his performance as an elderly man with dementia in The Father, directed by French novelist and playwright Florian Zeller, who also wrote the stage play on which the film is based.
It is Hopkins’ second Best Actor victory. He previously won in 1994 for his performance as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.
Hopkins’s latest win makes him the oldest-ever Oscar winner in an acting category, an honour previously held by the late Christopher Plummer, who was 82 when he won for Beginners in 2011.