Movies | April 28, 2021 11:33 am

The Oscars’ Abrupt Ending Was the Result of Their Dumb No-Zoom Rule

Best Actor winner Anthony Hopkins reportedly offered to accept his award via Zoom but was turned down

Anthony Hopkins attends the "The Two Popes" premiere during AFI FEST 2019 presented by Audi at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 18, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Anthony Hopkins attends the "The Two Popes" premiere during AFI FEST 2019 presented by Audi at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 18, 2019 in Hollywood, California.

One of the most memorable moments in Sunday’s underwhelming Oscars ceremony was the way the show ended rather abruptly after Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor for The Father because he wasn’t present to collect his award. But according to a New York Times report, it didn’t have to be that way; Hopkins reportedly offered to accept the award via Zoom but was turned down.

“I’m told that Hopkins was at home in the Welsh countryside and had offered to accept via Zoom if his name was read, but the Oscars nixed that plan,” Kyle Buchanan of the Times writes. “To distinguish themselves from award shows like the Golden Globes that had been hobbled by videoconferencing mishaps, Oscar producers encouraged nominees to attend the Los Angeles gala in person or to make their way to satellite ceremonies that had been set up in a handful of European cities.”

That no-Zoom rule was, of course, an extremely dumb move on the Oscars’ part that bit them in the ass — one of several, including the decisions to stop showing clips from the nominated films during the presentation of most categories and to gamble on an emotional, posthumous Chadwick Boseman victory for Best Actor by breaking with tradition and presenting the category after Best Picture.

Ending the show with Hopkins — who, at age 83, becomes the oldest person to ever receive an acting Oscar — winning wouldn’t have been nearly as catastrophic if the Academy had simply allowed him to accept via Zoom from his home in Wales. (How is that really any different than the UK nominees who appeared in-person via teleconference from the Oscars’s London hub?) It still would have been odd to end the show with that instead of Best Picture, but at least it would have been better than closing with presenter Joaquin Phoenix awkwardly mumbling, “We accept this award on his behalf.”

The motivation behind the no-Zoom rule was to avoid the record-low ratings that have plagued every other awards show of the COVID era, but that was inevitable. Even with the majority of glammed-up nominees gamely attending in-person and maskless while on camera, this year’s ceremony set a new low with ratings down 58% from last year. To ask an 83-year-old man like Hopkins, who is at a higher risk for COVID-19 due to his age, to travel during a pandemic all so he can accept an award at an in-person event that was already doomed to fail makes no sense whatsoever.

Despite not being allowed to Zoom in to the show, Hopkins posted his own acceptance speech to social media, where he also paid tribute to Boseman.

“Good morning. Here I am in my homeland in Wales, and at 83 I did not expect to get this award. I really didn’t,” he said. “Very grateful to the Academy and thank you, and I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman who was taken from us far too early. And again thank you all very much. Really did not expect this, so I feel very privileged and honored. Thank you.”