The 2021 Academy Awards show ended not with a bang but a whimper. The money seemed to be on the late Chadwick Boseman winning a posthumous Best Actor for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The producers even made that category the last of the evening, expecting some big close. Instead the trophy went to Anthony Hopkins for The Father, to the shock of many. What’s more, the legendary actor wasn’t even there to accept it. He was at home in Wales, sleeping.
But the show could have at least had him over Zoom, had they been willing to bend their own rules just a bit. According to a morning-after from IndieWire, the producers, among them Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh, were adamant about outlawing Zoom, hoping to increase IRL attendance, and to maintain the show’s cinematic aesthetic — as seen in that doozy of an opening shot. Even when nominees were seen in remote locations, they were at Oscar hubs in big cities, such as London and Dublin and Sydney, Australia.
But Hopkins, 83 and in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, was not about to travel from his home to a big city in the middle of the night, just to give a speech. But as per IndieWire, they tried for a compromise. Hopkins’ reps “pleaded” with the producers to just let him do it over Zoom. But they said no, and so the show ended with a distracted Joaquin Phoenix announcing an AWOL winner then quickly skedaddling, the show abruptly over. Hopkins recorded his acceptance speech in the morning, when he woke up from what was hopefully a very sound sleep.
Would the show have been better had it featured a groggy Hopkins, awoken from his slumber at around 4am Wales time, to give thanks for his second-ever Oscar? We’ll never know, unless we’re still struggling with the pandemic in 2022 and Hopkins gives yet another Academy Award-worthy performance.