Oscars 2021: Anthony Hopkins wins Best Actor over Chadwick Boseman in shock climax to show

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·3-min read

Watch: Sir Anthony Hopkins takes major acting Oscars

Anthony Hopkins was the surprise winner of the Best Actor award at Sunday's Oscars, ending the ceremony on a rather strange note.

The Academy chose to break with tradition this year, announcing the two leading actor prizes after they had awarded Best Picture to Nomadland.

Read more: Chloe Zhao makes history with Best Director win

That film's star, Frances McDormand, won the wide open Best Actress race, but it was Hopkins's victory for portraying a man struggling with dementia in The Father that was saved for the climactic moment.

Chadwick Boseman was the bookies' favourite to win the award, with his performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom lauded as almost a dead cert for a posthumous prize following his tragic death last year at the age of just 43 due to colon cancer.

Anthony Hopkins won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in 'The Father'. (Credit: Lionsgate)
Anthony Hopkins won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in 'The Father'. (Credit: Lionsgate)

The Hopkins upset was not without precedent, with the 83-year-old Welshman — now the oldest ever winner of an acting Oscar — rewarded ahead of Boseman at the Baftas.

Many on social media speculated that the Academy had deliberately structured the show around the emotional catharsis of a likely Boseman victory and were blindsided by Hopkins coming out on top.

Hopkins did not attend the Oscars — he has been a no-show throughout awards season — and so presenter Joaquin Phoenix passed over to musical guest Questlove for a rather muted end to the ceremony.

Chadwick Boseman as Levee in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'. (Credit: David Lee/Netflix)
Chadwick Boseman as Levee in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'. (Credit: David Lee/Netflix)

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Coupled with the very brief speech delivered by McDormand — who had only just left the stage after Nomadland's Best Picture win — this made for a strange conclusion to the three-hour telecast.

Twitter users noted they were "absolutely heartbroken" at the show's ending, both for Boseman and for Hopkins.

Some people even compared the scenario to the infamous mix-up that led to La La Land being mistakenly announced as the Best Picture winner instead of actual victor Moonlight.

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Hopkins previously won Best Actor in 1992 for his role as cannibal psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.

He has received six nominations in total, with four for Best Actor and two in the Best Supporting Actor category.

Read more: Oscars viewers divided over lack of opening monologue

It was Nomadland which proved to be the big winner overall at the Oscars in 2021, scoring three awards.

Six films managed to win two gongs at the unconventional ceremony, including both The Father and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Watch: Trailer for The Father