When the Oscar nominations were announced back in March, folks were more than confident that the late Chadwick Boseman — who passed in August 2020 after a private four-year battle with cancer — was sure to win in the best actor category for his last performance as a troubled trumpet player in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.'”
Viewers of the 93rd-Annual Academy Awards were not prepared for the plot twist they witnessed Sunday night on April 26.
The “Black Panther” star was seemingly immortalized when it was revealed that a one-of-a-kind piece of digital artwork in the form of an non-fungible token memorializing the 43-year-old would be a part of the nominee gift bags. NFTs are unique pieces of digital art stored on something called the Ethereum blockchain in a way that makes them resistant to being counterfeited and therefore highly collectible.
Speculations that Boseman would posthumously take home the gold statue were further fueled when producers shook up the order of awards and left Best Actor for last, a spot generally reserved for Best Picture. With a special gift bag tribute and category left for later, folks were almost certain they had predicted this win correctly. With other late talents having won posthumously — actor Peter Finch for Best Actor for his work in the 1976 film “Network,” and actor Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor in 2008 for “The Dark Knight” — it wouldn’t have been an unprecedented move for the show.
Still, producers instead found it more fitting to give Sir Anthony Hopkins — who was not in attendance — the honor for his performance as a man battling dementia in the drama film “The Father.” The 83-year-old, stunned at his accomplishment, shared a thank-you message later that night and honored the late star describing him as a man “taken from us far too early.”
Blindsided and upset, many took to social media to air out their frustrations. Many believed that while the Oscars were taking the steps in the right direction in the quest for diversity, including Chloé Zhao becoming the first woman of color to win an Oscar for Best Director, there’s still much left to be done.
Buzzfeed editorial director Spencer Althouse wrote, “The Oscars were so sure that Chadwick Boseman was going to win that they REARRANGED THE ENTIRE CEREMONY so his category could be last, and then they gave the award to Anthony Hopkins instead…the most chaotic and unhinged thing I’ve ever seen.”
Another user commented, “Y’all commodified Chadwick Boseman into a NFT for swag bags but couldn’t give him an Oscar…. lol okay.” They added, “Don’t know if commodified is the right word here but I’m annoyed and don’t care.”
“Disappointing ending to what otherwise was an inspiring – Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis and Andra Day were obvious candidates for the win,” political commentator and journalist Joy Reid expressed.
Writer Roxy Striar commented, “Dear Academy, Is this a La La Land moment? Y’all kidding?” She added, “Love, literally every person watching,” and later tagged Boseman.
Fortunately, the actor had already won a Golden Globe, a Critic’s Choice Award, and an NAACP Image Award for the role, which perhaps may have soften the blow taken at the Oscars.
Other wins of that night included Daniel Kaluuya for Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and singer H.E.R. taking Best Original Song for the single “Hear My Voice” from “Judas and the Black Messiah.”