*Sad trombone noise.*
That’s how this year’s Academy Awards broadcast ended. Not with a bang, but with a fart. The Steven Soderbergh–produced ceremony broke from tradition in a number of ways, one of which was presenting Best Picture third from last instead of ending with it as a grand finale. Presumably, this is because the Academy predicted that Chadwick Boseman would be posthumously awarded in the final category: Actor in a Leading Role, for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. So they trotted out last year’s winner Joaquin Phoenix, visibly against his will, to mumble about what it means to be an actor before presenting the award to … Anthony Hopkins, for The Father. Anthony Hopkins, who last won the same award in 1992 for Silence of the Lambs. Anthony Hopkins, who was not in attendance. Before anyone had time to figure out what was going on, the awards show just ended. No outro music, no big speech on Hopkins’s behalf, just a cut to commercial.
After Boseman’s tragic and sudden death in 2020, the late actor won many of the major precursors leading up to the Oscars, and was expected to win. Instead, viewers were left with a snubbed, stunned silence. The commercials were followed by a hasty disclaimer about how the ballots are kept secret until the live broadcast, and it felt like a frantic, hand-waving excuse, followed by a swift cut to credits. “Anti-climactic” would be the undersell of the season. This was the most chaotic ending to an Oscars broadcast since 2017.