While giving his morning-after Oscars acceptance speech, newly-minted winner Anthony Hopkins pays tribute to Chadwick Boseman. Both Hopkins and Boseman were up for Best Actor at last night’s 93rd Academy Awards, and both had accumulated various other awards in the lead-up to the ceremony. For Hopkins, he was nominated for his role in The Father as Anthony, a man resisting calls for assistance even as his dementia gets increasingly worse. Meanwhile, the late Boseman, who passed away last August, was being honored for playing a hotheaded trumpet player with big dreams, Levee, in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Prior to the Oscars ceremony, Boseman was largely considered to be the favorite to win Best Actor. Though Hopkins took home the BAFTA and Sound of Metal’s Riz Ahmed won the Independent Spirit Award days before, Boseman had scored several other major accolades, and it would have been a posthumous honor for a great talent taken too soon. During the ceremony itself, it even felt like the producers were gearing up for something when they moved Best Actor to the very end of the program, taking the place of Best Picture. Instead of Boseman, however, Hopkins was crowned this year’s winner.
Hopkins was not present at the Oscars ceremony, so he could not accept the award at the time. However, he shared a brief acceptance speech to his social media on Monday morning thanking the Academy for the honor. “At 83 years of age, I did not expect to get this award, I really didn’t,” Hopkins said. He also paid tribute to Boseman, someone “who was taken from us far too early.” He concluded by saying, “I feel very privileged and honored. Thank you.” You can see his full speech down below.
The reactions on social media in the aftermath of Hopkins winning were decidedly mixed. Undoubtedly, Hopkins put on a fantastic performance in The Father, one that many are calling a career best. That Boseman lost isn’t even the crux of the issue for many; it’s that the Oscars saw fit to seemingly prepare for a major tribute to the late actor, only to honor someone else instead. This is hardly Hopkins’ fault, and he deserves to be recognized for his work in The Father.
Nevertheless, it’s a disappointment for fans who wanted to see Boseman’s legacy honored by the Academy. This is made all the more complicated by their decision to include copies of an NFT art piece of Boseman within the nominees’ gift bags, which many people have called inappropriate. Looking beyond that, Hopkins’ speech was simple, and his surprise at winning the award is genuinely sweet. There will likely be some debate over this for a while, but no one can say this year’s Oscars didn’t end with a wild surprise.