In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Soderbergh gave his take on how it turned out, noting that he had this structure for the show in mind months before the nominations were announced.
“We talked about it in January. We believe – which is not without merit in my opinion – that actors’ speeches tend to be more dramatic than producer speeches, ”Soderbergh said. “And so we thought it would be fun to mix things up, especially if people didn’t know it was going to happen. So that was still part of the plan.
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While the change in the Oscar series was shocking for more than one reason, it turned out to be controversial primarily due to how the lead actor ended up moving. While Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer last August at the age of 43, he has long been considered one of the favorites for Best Actor, given the strength of his turn in the adaptation of August Wilson from Netflix, Ma Rainey’s black background. Boseman would have ultimately land a posthumous nomination. Therefore, when word of the shuffle category first broke on Oscar night, many assumed they understood why. The image of a victorious actor who left too early would end the night and all would be well.
Except that’s not what happened.
The category ended up going to The fatherAnthony Hopkins, who did not even show up for the ceremony.
Certainly it went through Soderbergh’s mind that Boseman could win. At the end of the day, however, he indicated that this possibility was just a possibility he was seeking to explain with the change in the order of the show. “It wasn’t like we were assuming [Boseman] would have [win], but if there was even a possibility of it happening, then you have to take it into account, ”Soderbergh said. “It would have been such an overwhelming moment, that coming back after that would have been just impossible.
Given that the 93rd Oscars took place in the midst of a global pandemic, they were always going to be different, one way or another. For a famous avant-garde filmmaker like Soderbergh, what was happening in the world represented an “opportunity” to experiment.
Along with producers Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins, he ended up breaking new ground in many ways outside of the naming of categories. Among them was the decision to replace edits of clips typically playing alongside the nominee list with stories about the nominees themselves.
While Soderbergh wasn’t surprised with a negative response to the move (as he doesn’t read reviews), he feels good looking back at the tricks he tried to freshen up the broadcast. “You have to understand that this show was viewed a lot by us and the Academy as an opportunity to try out really different stuff. And the understanding has always been that there will be things that work and things that don’t, things people love, things people don’t. That’s the point, ”he said. “So the goal was to really do something different and let the Academy sift through the answer and decide what they would do in the future.”
If there’s one element of his show that he hopes the Academy will keep in the future, it’s the nominees’ stories.
“I like to know more about the nominees,” Soderbergh said. “I think this grounds the industry into some sort of reality and makes it clear to people that the majority of workers don’t come from Los Angeles and New York, don’t have connections to the entertainment industry, and that there is no firewall. between the actors and the team, that everyone works a lot together. And that the experience of making a film is not compartmentalized as I think some people believe.
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