As a reminder, producers had switched the order of the final awards of the night so best picture was announced before the lead acting categories. Boseman, nominated for lead actor for his role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” was highly favored to win. Instead, the Oscar went to Anthony Hopkins for “The Father” but he wasn’t in attendance and the show ended abruptly.
Director Steven Soderbergh, who was among producers of this year’s event, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about switching the categories.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Soderbergh added that “if there was even the sliver of a chance” that Boseman 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,” he says.