Fans have expressed dismay at the Academy’s “snub” of the late Chadwick Boseman for Best Actor at this year’s Oscars ceremony.
Black Panther star Boseman, who died in August last year aged 43 following a private four-year battle with colon cancer, had been tipped to win the prize for his performance as an ambitious trumpeter in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
But instead, Sir Anthony Hopkins was named best actor for his role in The Father, in which he plays an ageing man struggling with memory loss, beating the presumptive victor.
Fans were fully expecting Boseman to be posthumously awarded the Best Actor award, after producers broke with ceremony tradition and left the category to close out the show.
Usually, Best Film is the last award of the night to be handed out, but the reshuffling led many to believe that a special presentation honouring the late actor may have been in the works.
It could have been a fitting end to the broadcast, but Boseman’s name was not the one to be announced by Joaquin Phoenix, who was on hand to present the award.
Instead, Sir Anthony, originally from Port Talbot in South Wales, claimed the gong, becoming the oldest person to win an Academy Award for acting.
‘I did not expect to get this award’
Sir Anthony was not in attendance for the ceremony in Los Angeles, nor the Academy’s London “hub” set up to accommodate stars unable or unwilling to travel due to the coronavirus crisis.
The actor shared an acceptance speech the following morning, which was filmed in Wales, where he is on holiday.
In the short clip, he expressed shock at winning the award and paid tribute to Boseman, and even seemed slightly uncomfortable himself with his victory over the late actor.
He said: “Good morning. Here I am in my homeland in Wales, and at 83 years of age I did not expect to get this award, I really didn’t.
“Very grateful to the Academy and thank you, and I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who was taken from us far too early."
It is Sir Anthony’s second Oscar, coming 29 years after he won best actor in 1992 for The Silence Of The Lambs, the longest gap between wins by any actor in this category in the history of the Oscars.
‘It's a shambles’
Boseman had been the favourite to win the award going into the ceremony, and that coupled with the changing of the usual running order set up high expectations in fans.
Expectations that were ultimately not met, when the night ended with an absent Sir Anthony picking up the award, something many online have described as a “shambles”.
"That’ll teach me to expect the bare minimum level of competency from the Academy,” said one social media user. “Anthony Hopkins winning Best Actor over Chadwick Boseman feels really gross.”
"The ending of the Oscars was terrible," said another. “Boseman should have won Best Actor. Awful Academy voting not shown diversity. It's a shambles."
Others were more understanding, with one user saying it was “breaking their heart” to see “folks dragging Hopkins through the mud for a performance they didn’t see, and for not being there at 83 during a pandemic!"
"Anthony Hopkins gave the performance of his career in The Father,” said another, “and I hate that a poor producing decision undercuts his deserved Oscars victory.”
Director Rian Johnson said he “fully endorsed” Sir Anthony being “happily home in his PJs.”
“Having a nice night in. Maybe gets a text from his manager that he won, smiles and goes back to watching the Ken Burns Hemingway doc. Brings me joy.”
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, NationalWorld