Oscars upsets are always divisive, but a LOT of people took this one personally.
It’s been less than a year since we lost Chadwick Boseman, and many fans are still mourning his death. One small silver lining has been his powerhouse final performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which garnered critical acclaim and awards’ season attention, earning him a Golden Globe, Critics Choice Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award.
The Black Panther star was the first Black actor to be posthumously nominated for an Academy Award, and heading into the ceremony, it seemed like his win was all but assured. The ceremony was even seemingly restructured to highlight that triumphant, emotional moment, as the producers rearranged the usual Best Picture finale to put the Best Actor category last.
Except… at the literal last minute, the award went to The Father’s Anthony Hopkins instead. And the legendary actor wasn’t even present to accept the award — not even via satellite — so the night ended with one of the Oscars’ biggest anticlimaxes ever. Watch the awkward moment below:
While the two-time Best Actor winner gave what some have labeled a career-best performance in The Father, the upset unsurprisingly met backlash online. Compounding on the outrage was the announcement that nominees would receive a “Chadwick Boseman NFT” in their gift bags (not distributed by the Academy, for the record), a move which some viewers claimed further exploited the 43-year-old’s death. Fans wrote on Twitter:
“No seriously, I know we all get on this little silly app and make our little silly jokes about the Oscars. But turning Chadwick Boseman into a literal object for swag bags and then NOT honoring the talent of his life’s work and craft is actively and systematically violent.”
“Y’all commodified Chadwick Boseman into a NFT for swag bags but couldn’t give him an Oscar…. lol okay”
“its sick how transparent the academy was in using chadwick boseman just for clicks and views, building everything up to the best actor award and inviting his family and giving him a tribute AND putting his head in gift bags and not giving him ANYTHING…. he deserves more respect”
The Silence of the Lambs star, who became the oldest actor ever to win an Oscar, posted an “acceptance speech” to Instagram on Monday acknowledging the late Marvel hero. In a video, he said:
“Here I am in my homeland of Wales. At 83 years of age I did not expect to get this award. I really didn’t. I’m very grateful to the Academy, thank you. I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who was taken from us far too early. Again, thank you all very much. I really did not expect this, so I’ve been very privileged and honored.”
A post shared by Anthony Hopkins (@anthonyhopkins)
Related: The Weirdest & Wildest Moments Of The 2021 Oscars
Chadwick didn’t need an Oscar to cement his legacy, but in fairness, Anthony didn’t need another one for his own legacy, either. (We have to point out that an old white man beat not one, but three younger actors of color in the category, including Chadwick, Steven Yeun, and Riz Ahmed). And deserved or not, it seems like the Academy does have to answer for gambling on the success of a dead man to hype up their ceremony.
See more reactions to the upset (below):
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