Most Oscar pundits expected the late Chadwick Boseman to win a posthumous Academy Award last night for his work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It seems like the producers of the Oscars did too; they took the highly unusual step of giving out Best Picture before the prizes for Best Actor and Actress. If things had worked out as expected, the night would have ended a stirring tribute to Boseman, who passed away last summer after a long private battle with colon cancer.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things went down. To the surprise of almost everyone — one website that lists the Oscar guesses of 33 “experts,” had 32 votes for Boseman to win — the Academy Award for Best Actor went to Anthony Hopkins for The Father. Hopkins had recently returned home to Wales for the first time since the pandemic began, and could not attend the show. So instead of a triumphant finale, the show ended with presenter Joaquin Phoenix quickly accepting the Oscar on Hopkins’ behalf, followed by an abrupt segue to the end credits. (In an acceptance speech posted to Instagram on Monday morning, Hopkins’ thanked the Academy and paid tribute to Boseman, saying “he was taken from us far too early.”)
A lot of fans have spent Sunday night and Monday morning upset at the producers of the Oscars, the Academy, and even Hopkins at the supposed snub of Boseman. Interestingly, one vocal group who disagrees with that view of things is Chadwick Boseman’s own family. His brother Derrick told TMZ that he “doesn’t view Chadwick not winning an Oscar for Best Actor as a snub because every nominated actor was excellent and deserving of the award.” Derrick Boseman also noted that Chadwick’s “family isn’t upset or agitated” about Hopkins’ win — and in fact, he “wishes Hopkins and his family all the best” because “I’m sure [Anthony] would if Chad won.”
Those comments might not change anyone’s minds about what went down last night. Regardless of whether the anger about Boseman’s defeat quiets quickly or not, I’m pretty sure Best Picture will be the last award handed out at the 2022 Academy Awards. If you want to honor Chadwick Boseman, and you haven’t watched it yet, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is now available on Netflix.
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