This isn't me picking on the Oscars last night, I swear. I totally get the impulse to craft a cathartic ending to an awards show — especially one happening in the middle of a pandemic, on the heels of the George Floyd verdict feeling more like holding one's ground instead of a true step forward...
But yikes, that went a bit wrong.
To recap for my future self, trying to figure out WTF this post is about: the Oscars re-arranged the awards at the tail of the ceremony, so instead of ending with Best Picture, they ended on Best Actor. This was clearly done because they were 900% sure Chadwick Boseman was going to win for his final performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (which really, he should have). But as Oscars tend to do, this one went to Anthony Hopkins instead — who wasn't even there — so instead of a beautiful moment, you got a really awkward acceptance by Joaquin Phoenix, and then ROLL CREDITS!
It's not that their intentions were wrong, and I can't even fault them for being crass and calculating, because honestly, it was exactly what everyone wanted, after the year we've had. But there's that part of your brain that, as a professional in whatever field you're in, should say: "My heart says yes, but my brain (and years of experience) says HELL NO." Anyone listening to their brain would have known that whatever benefits they lost by putting Best Actor second-to-last, those benefits were nothing compared to the damage of not giving the award to Boseman.
Hope for a miracle, plan for a disaster.
On a totally unrelated note: it was so great seeing Chloé Zhao win for Nomadland, and even though I winced when Tyler Perry mentioned the police (not so much because I disagree, but because I know the world doesn't want to see nuance right now), I thought his speech was exactly what was needed for this moment. I'm always terrified he's going to be Me Too'd (or Joss Whedon'd) because I cannot think of another industry professional who doesn't just do the work, but goes so above and beyond that if there isn't an award named after him in the next 20 years, I will be incredibly disappointed in the Academy.
I mean, beyond the disappointment over the whole award order thing.