Oscars producer Steven Soderbergh explains decision to change the order of final awards

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Maureen Lee Lenker
·2 min read
Oscars producer Steven Soderbergh explains decision to change the order of final awards
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Though it wasn't as big a flurry as the Moonlight/La La Land mixup of 2017, the decision to present the Oscars for Best Actress and Best Actor after Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards is still generating a lot of conversation.

The category order change-up was not unprecedented, having been the way of things for almost the entire first two decades of the Oscars. But its ultimate result — an upset win by an absent Anthony Hopkins over the late Chadwick Boseman, and presenter Joaquin Phoenix ending things on a hurried, unsettled note — left many viewers disappointed.

Now Steven Soderbergh, who produced this year's ceremony alongside Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher, has opened up about the thinking behind the shift in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

"That was something we were going to do well before the nominations came out — we talked about that in January," Soderbergh said. "It's our belief — that I think is not unfounded — that actors' speeches tend to be more dramatic than producers' speeches. And so we thought it might be fun to mix it up, especially if people didn't know that was coming. So that was always part of the plan."

Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images Steven Soderbergh at the 2021 Oscars

Soderbergh added that Boseman's nomination (and frontrunner status, given his previous wins this awards season) did help bolster the decision in the end. "When the nominations came out and there was even the possibility that Chadwick could win posthumously, our feeling was if he were to win and his widow were to speak on his behalf, there would be nowhere to go after that," he said. "So we stuck with it."

The producers were criticized by some for potentially banking on Boseman's win to conclude the show, but Soderbergh denied that there was an any assumption about who would win, so much as a desire to plan for any possibility.

"I said if there was even the sliver of a chance that he would win and that his widow would speak, then we were operating under the fact that was the end of the show," he said. "So it wasn't like we assumed it would, but if there was even a possibility that it would happen, then you have to account for that. That would have been such a shattering moment, that to come back after that would have been just impossible."

Read Soderbergh's full interview in the L.A. Times.

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