There have been 16 posthumous winners in the nearly century-old history of the Academy Awards, including two actors: Peter Finch for Network and Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight. Nearly every Oscar prognosticator had Chadwick Boseman, who died at 43 years old last August from colon cancer, becoming the third member of the club for his electric performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. But then chaos reigned.
For the first time in apparently decades, the Oscars ended on Sunday not with Best Picture (which went to Nomadland), but Best Actor, presumably because the Academy assumed that Boseman would be posthumously awarded in the category. Instead, Anthony Hopkins won for The Father, leading to an ending that was not only anti-climatic but also unfair. Unfair to Hopkins, who’s fantastic in The Father and doesn’t deserve the amount of scorn he’s getting; unfair to Nomadland director Chloe Zhao, whose historic win felt like an afterthought due to the category shuffling; and unfair to Boseman. The ceremony was built around his win, including his family being in attendance and his head being turned into an NFT (“They made him a literal token”), but then… nothing.
Hopkins handled the controversy well (once he got out of bed).
“Good morning. Here I am in my homeland in Wales and at 83-years-of-age I did not expect to get this award. I really didn’t,” Hopkins said in a video posted to Instagram after someone woke him up to tell him he won. The Silence of the Lambs star also paid tribute to Boseman, “who was taken from us far too early,” and added, “I really did not expect this, so I feel very privileged and honored.” No one expected this.
— Film Updates (@TheFilmUpdates) April 26, 2021
The morning after, people are still in disbelief.
"we're putting best actor last to end on an emotional note" pic.twitter.com/1fEbEq290L
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) April 26, 2021
The show was totally built around giving Chadwick Boseman the Oscar — complete with making Best Actor the last category announced — and it ends like that?
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) April 26, 2021
They build the entire show around a Chadwick Boseman ending and then Anthony Hopkins won and didn't show up
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) April 26, 2021
so from what i can gather the oscars producers pushed best actor to the end of the show assuming chadwick would win and it would be a nice moment, but then anthony hopkins won and he wasn't even there so they just read the card and ended the show?
— Law Boy, Esq. (@The_Law_Boy) April 26, 2021
Anthony Hopkins is a great actor and he's great in 'The Father.' I'm mostly upset with how the #Oscars producers changed up the categories seemingly to capitalize on the energy surrounding the possibility of Chadwick Boseman winning. And, well, that gamble failed miserably.
— Ashley Carter (@AshleyLCarter1) April 26, 2021
The Best Picture whiff in 2017 was an honest mistake. Switching the big categories seemingly so the #Oscars could end on Chadwick Boseman's Best Actor win only for him to lose to an absent Anthony Hopkins was a cynical pitch at a melodramatic finale that gloriously backfired. pic.twitter.com/p63PwanIhd
— Scott Mendelson (@ScottMendelson) April 26, 2021
Just a reminder that if you’re upset Chadwick didn’t win best actor, it means you think it would add some value to his legacy. It wouldn’t. Great actor, great man no matter what. Today as much as yesterday.
— Sean Gunn (@seangunn) April 26, 2021
Joaquin Phoenix coming out to award the late Chadwick Boseman with the Best Actor trophy.
— Marshall Kistner (@mackistner) April 26, 2021
everyone bouta attack anthony hopkins 😭😭 leave him alone. let’s remember the real enemy is them switching the order knowing who was gonna win and inviting chadwick’s family and not giving him a proper tribute
— zoë (@filmsbyzoe) April 26, 2021
we can still criticize them for alluding to chadwick’s win while still acknowledging that hopkins did deliver a great performance. like two things can be true at once whether you agree or not.
— bacall 🎟 (@miyafilms) April 26, 2021
changing the order building up to chadwick and having joaquin phoenix announce anthony hopkins pic.twitter.com/BXfmZDKkub
— NJ Transit (@SamScarf1) April 26, 2021
What the heck just happened at the #Oscars? They didn’t end on Best Picture? Instead they end on Best Actor for the emotional wallop of Chadwick Boseman. Then they’re the one show to deny him. For a guy who isn’t there? That’s it? Goodnight. Show over. How effing bizarre.
— Bryan Behar (@bryanbehar) April 26, 2021
The Oscars were so sure that Chadwick Boseman was going to win that they REARRANGED THE ENTIRE CEREMONY so his category could be last, and then they gave the award to Anthony Hopkins instead…the most chaotic and unhinged thing I've ever seen.
— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) April 26, 2021
An absent Anthony Hopkins winning over Chadwick Boseman during a ceremony built to end around a Boseman win while Joaquin Phoenix awkwardly stumbles through it all is…wow. Chaos!
— Jacob Hall (@JacobSHall) April 26, 2021