Heading into the 2021 Oscars, few narratives were as seemingly clear-cut as the likelihood of Chadwick Boseman winning a posthumous trophy for Best Actor. His dynamic turn in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was made all the more potent by the fact that it was his final film role, completed before his death in August 2020.
It wasn’t just fan wishing, either. Some light tweaking of the show’s typical order of awards seemed to point to a Boseman celebration — why else would producers have chosen to end the night by giving out Best Actor and bumping up usual closer Best Picture to third-to-last?
Instead, the award went to Anthony Hopkins for his devastating performance in Florian Zeller’s The Father, a temporally disorienting and fragile portrait of an elderly man’s descent into dementia. But Hopkins wasn’t there, so presenter Joaquin Phoenix quickly mentioned that the Academy would accept on Hopkins’s behalf. And then the show was over.
Confusion set in on social media, and the word “anticlimactic” was used quite a bit. If Hopkins had been there, either in person or videoed in remotely to give a speech, the moment likely would’ve felt more substantial. That’s why this morning, mere hours after winning, Hopkins posted a brief, gracious video message on Instagram that acted both as an acceptance and as a tribute to his fellow nominee Boseman.
“Good morning,” Hopkins began standing in front of a gorgeous green vista in his native Wales. “At 83 years of age, I did not expect to get this award. I really didn’t. I’m very grateful to the Academy, and thank you.”
Hopkins then turned his words to Boseman, whose performance as Levee Green in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom earned him several other accolades, including wins at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice awards. “I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who was taken from us far too early.”
“And again, thank you all, very much,” he closed with a quick laugh. “I really did not expect this, so I feel very privileged and honored. Thank you.”
In addition to Boseman, Hopkins beat out fellow nominees Riz Ahmed, Gary Oldman, and Steven Yeun in the category. His portrayal of Anthony in The Father is both heartbreaking and exceedingly charming, and Hopkins himself earned multiple accolades (and a few other wins) during awards season. Last night at the Oscars, The Father also earned an award for Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writers Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton.
Find all the 2021 Oscar winners right here.