Chadwick Boseman losing the Best Actor Oscar capped off a bizarre, yet historic Academy Awards telecast. The disappointment over the late actor’s loss left a bad taste after being last award season's darling. What made the moment even more awkward was the placement of the award. Now, Oscars producer Steven Soderbergh has broken his silence on the final award and Boseman’s surprise loss.
As one of Hollywood’s celebrated directors, Steven Soderbergh is known for his avant-garde filmmaking. S, his approach to this year’s Oscar shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Certain changes for the 2021 Oscars were met negative criticism, especially switching the order of Best Picture, Actress and Actor categories. The prolific director gave some insight into placing the Best Actor category last with the following:
That was something we were going to do well before the nominations came out — we talked about that in January 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. So that was always part of the plan. And then 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. So, we stuck with it.
After revealing the awards switch was planned before Chadwick Boseman’s nomination, Steven Soderbergh and the other Oscar producers’ decision makes more sense. It also falls in line with Soderbergh’s auteur approach to filmmaking. He did have a point with saying actors’ speeches are usually more powerful than the ones from producers. Despite this knowledge, it didn’t make Boseman’s posthumous loss hurt any less despite his family's class response. Unfortunately, since the public was not privy to ths knowledge, it came off as if the Oscars were using Boseman’s passing for the press.
During his interview with The Los Angeles Times, Steven Soderbergh gave his take on Chadwick Boseman’s loss at the Oscars, saying even he was aware of the impact the late actor’s win would mean for the show. The director said about the ill-fated moment:
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. That would have been such a shattering moment, that to come back after that would have been just impossible.
It's at least nice to know Steven Soderbergh and the other producers knew how big Chadwick Boseman’s win would’ve been. But the switching of categories did disprove one Oscar theory – the Academy knows who’s winning ahead of time. Best Actor winner Anthony Hopkins not being in attendance made the moment even more awkward. Even though Soderbergh cleared things up, hopefully this anticlimactic moment will serve as a learning moment for the Academy.