Steven Soderbergh defends decision to switch up order of Oscars ceremony

Steven Soderbergh has insisted the production team didn’t assume Chadwick Boseman was going to win Best Actor.

Oscars producer Steven Soderbergh has defended the decision to end this year’s Academy Awards with the Best Actor prize instead of Best Picture.

The Oscars ceremony traditionally ends with the presentation of the night’s biggest prize, Best Picture, but in April, that award was presented to Nomadland before the acting categories.

Many criticised the change after Anthony Hopkins was named the surprise Best Actor winner instead of frontrunner Chadwick Boseman, and because Hopkins wasn’t present at the ceremony or allowed to make a virtual appearance, critics felt the show ended on an anti-climactic note.

Speaking about his decision with the Los Angeles Times, the Contagion filmmaker, who produced this year’s show with Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins, explained they had discussed changing the order of the categories before the nominations were announced.

“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,” he stated.

However, once the nominations were announced, they decided they needed to end the show on Best Actor in the eventuality that Boseman posthumously won and his widow Taylor Simone Ledward had to accept the award on his behalf.

“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,” he said.

When asked if the production team were expecting Boseman to win, Soderbergh clarified that they didn’t make any assumptions, but had to account for the possibility it could happen.

“That would have been such a shattering moment, that to come back after that would have been just impossible,” he added.

Given that the show’s final prize went to an actor who wasn’t present at the ceremony or any of the Oscars’ breakout sites, Soderbergh was asked if the team would rethink the decision to ban the use of Zoom in hindsight and he simply replied, “No.”

Hopkins gave his acceptance speech on social media the following day.

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