The end of the 2021 Oscars ceremony was bizarre for a number of reasons, mostly because of the fact that Best Actor In A Leading Role was presented after Best Picture. Anthony Hopkins won that final Academy Award for his work in The Father, but since he wasn’t in attendance and the Oscars had outlawed Zoom call-ins, the show just… stopped. Now, 2021 Oscars producer Steven Soderbergh has offered some insight into what happened there, and it at least partially revolves around something that a lot of Oscar viewers guessed that night: They assumed Chadwick Boseman was going to win Best Actor, and they wanted to end on that.
Now, Soderbergh doesn’t come right out and say that in this new Los Angeles Times piece, but he does say that they first thought of moving Best Actor to the final spot after the nominations came out “and there was even the possibility that Chadwick could win posthumously.” Soderbergh says he knew that if Boseman’s widow, Taylor Simone Ledward (who gave a touching speech when Boseman posthumously won a Golden Globe), had gone onstage and accepted on his behalf, “there would be nowhere to go after that.”
In other words, the producers knew there was a chance Boseman would win, and if he did win it would be a huge moment, so they didn’t want to have to put anything on after that. The risk in that is exactly what happened: If Boseman doesn’t win, the show ends with a thud (no offense to Tony Hopkins). Elsewhere in the L.A. Times piece, Soderbergh explains that a lot of the structural changes he came up with for this year’s Oscars ceremony were there just to shake things up and force the Academy to figure out what did and did not work for future shows. He just did his thing and then washed his hands of it, going so far as to not even read any reactions to the ceremony after it aired. It’s unclear, then, how many of his changes will be kept for the 2022 Oscars, but we’re going to guess that it’ll be very few of them.