Oscars explains controversial decision to end with Best Actor award

Amy West
·2-min read
Photo credit: SEAN GLEASON - Lionsgate
Photo credit: SEAN GLEASON - Lionsgate

This year's Academy Awards caused quite the controversy last month when, in an attempt to make the televised event end on a more exciting note, it elected to hand out the gong for Best Actor at the end rather than Best Picture.

As the ceremony played out, many of those tuning in assumed that the shake-up was because the accolade was going to be given to late Marvel star Chadwick Boseman, for his performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Instead, it went to absent nominee The Father's Anthony Hopkins, who wasn't permitted to video call in, resulting in the Oscars closing on an awkward, directionless note.

Now, producer Steven Soderbergh has defended the switch, explaining that it was something they were discussing doing back in January – long before they knew which performers would be up for which categories.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Related: Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins pays tribute to Chadwick Boseman in touching acceptance video

"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," the Contagion director told the Los Angeles Times.

The filmmaker went on to say that their idea to change the structure seemed more fitting when Boseman was nominated and it became clear that if he were to win posthumously, and his wife Taylor Simone Ledward were to speak on his behalf, "there would be nowhere to go after that." So they made it a reality.

"I said 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. 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.

Photo credit: Rich Polk - Getty Images
Photo credit: Rich Polk - Getty Images

Related: Black Panther's Michael B Jordan responds to Chadwick Boseman's Oscar snub

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

Other winners on the night included director Chloé Zhao for Nomadland, in addition to the drama's lead actress Frances McDormand scooping up an award and the film itself bagging Best Picture.

Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell won for best original screenplay, while Minari's Youn Yuh-jung and Judas and the Black Messiah's Daniel Kaluuya came out on top in their respective supporting actress and actor categories.

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