The Academy was conscious that Chadwick Boseman was a frontrunner going into the 2021 Oscars.
In recent history, Best Picture is the last remaining honour presented at the Academy Awards. Oscars producer Steven Soderbergh revealed why the Academy opted to end on Best Actor this year.
“That was something we were going to do well before the nominations came out — we talked about that in January,” Soderbergh told the Los Angeles 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 that was coming,” he continued. “So that was always part of the plan.”
Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”) was awarded this year’s Best Actor over frontrunner and fan-favourite, the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”). While that marked a disappointing ending for “Black Panther” fans, it was, in part, Boseman’s potential victory that influenced the change in order.
“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,” Soderbergh explained. “So we stuck with it.”
That is not to say the Oscars producers expected Boseman to win.
“I sai,d 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,” Soderbergh asserted.
“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.”
Soderbergh produced this year’s ceremony with Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher.