Widescreen: One change that could have saved the Oscars' risky ending

  • Oscar winners Yuh-Jung Youn, left, Daniel Kaluuya and Frances McDormand had a good time after last weekend's Oscars, but viewers were left flummoxed by the double-whammy of the producers' decision to change the show's run order and Chadwick Boseman losing the Best Actor award to Anthony Hopkins.

    Oscar winners Yuh-Jung Youn, left, Daniel Kaluuya and Frances McDormand had a good time after last weekend's Oscars, but viewers were left flummoxed by the double-whammy of the producers' decision to change the show's run order and Chadwick Boseman losing the Best Actor award to Anthony Hopkins. Associated Press

 
 
Posted4/27/2021 10:42 AM

Producers Jesse Collins, Stacy Sher and Steven Soderbergh made a Danny Ocean-sized wager in placing the acting awards after Best Picture at last week's Oscars. They lost.

The apparent desired outcome -- ending the weird pandemic-era Academy Awards with an emotional celebration of Best Actor nominee Chadwick Boseman, who died last August -- did not materialize. Instead, Joaquin Phoenix opened the envelope, read Anthony Hopkins' name, said the Academy would accept the award in Hopkins' absence, and ended the show.

 

Before the Oscars' smallest TV audience ever was even done screaming "WHAT?" at their televisions, the evening news had begun.

Putting aside the audacity of exploiting the Boseman family's pain for the sake of giving an awards show a "happy" ending, one can see how a slight change to the run order could have allowed the Oscars to save face while still placing Best Actor (and its actual result) at the end of the telecast: They should have put the "In Memoriam" segment between Best Actress and Best Actor.

Doing so, and ending the montage of departed stars with Boseman's face, would have allowed a co-star, friend or family member to immediately deliver a speech paying tribute to the star of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and transitioning to the final award. And at the end of the speech: "Chadwick would have been honored to be in this category with you four fine gentleman. The nominees for Best Actor are ..."

The Oscars would have gotten their emotional ending either way.

'The Father' at home

Speaking of Hopkins, the dementia drama for which he won the Oscar last week finally has a traditional home release on the books. (It has been available for weeks on many platforms at the $20 "theater-at-home" rental price.)

"The Father" arrives May 18 on DVD, Blu-ray and standard digital rental. Directed by Florian Zeller and adapted from his own play, "The Father" stars Hopkins in the title role and "The Favourite" Oscar winner Olivia Colman as the daughter struggling with his declining health.

• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald assistant news editor.

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