The Oscars could not have stuffed up that final moment more if they tried. Honestly.
For once, the post-Oscars recriminations wash-up isn't on some baffling decision made by the voters – or by Faye Dunaway – but by the people who were running the ceremony.
The producers, including director Steven Soderbergh, were so convinced of the late Chadwick Boseman's win for his role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, they took the unprecedented step of swapping the category running order around.
So instead of Best Picture closing out the night, it was Best Actor. You can imagine the conversations in that brainstorm now.
"What if, hear me out, we put Best Actor last? Chadwick is going to win, it's going to be a triumph, a celebration of his life as well as his work. His widow is going to give a tear-jerking speech and we'll end on a high."
"Yes! Best Oscars ever!"
Only, he lost. Chadwick Boseman not only lost but he lost to Anthony Hopkins, who was, as far as anyone knows, asleep in Wales. Hopkins didn't even turn up to the London satellite event.
And why would he? He's 83 years old. He already has an Oscar. Why would he sit in a theatrette at the British Film Institute until 4am?!
This is no shade on Hopkins who is exceedingly good in The Father, Florian Zeller's film in which he plays a man with progressive memory loss. It's a carefully balanced performance which oscillates between farce and pathos. It's truly one of Hopkins' best in a career full of incredible work.
This stuff-up belongs purely to Soderbergh and his gang, and their hubris.
Of course, if it had turned out differently, we probably would be applauding them for their genius but it was never, ever a certainty, and that's the point.
They should've factored in that Boseman might have lost to Hopkins. Yes, Boseman had won almost every award in the lead-up to the Oscars. Except the Baftas, who bestowed the honour to Hopkins. That Baftas win for Hopkins should've alerted the producers that The Father was a late-breaking movie in a very long awards season.
By the by, Hopkins didn't even zoom into the Baftas, and that was in his timezone and he could've done it from his lounge room.
Although, at least we now know for certain that the ceremony producers aren't tipped off to the winners beforehand.
OK, what's the big deal, I hear some of you asking? Isn't it just some silly awards show recognising a bunch of movies that most of the world didn't even see, especially considering that cinemas have been shut for months?
Sure, if you're a cynic – but who wants to be one?
The Oscars still matter because it celebrates an art form that has the ability to be emotionally transformative, to share with us stories we would never come across in our day-to-day lives, to entertain, to make us laugh and to make us think.
The Oscars ceremony is a marketing tool, and for it to be effective, it needs to sell itself. If the Oscars can't even execute a narrative with a fitting ending – and Joaquin Phoenix uttering "The Academy congratulates Anthony Hopkins and accepts the Oscar on his behalf" is not a good ending – how does that reflect on an industry that is all about storytelling?
At least that La La Land/Moonlight mix-up was a commotion and not a deflation. Drama makes up for good storytelling.
The choice to flip the categories around also had the effect of diminishing the triumph of Nomadland's Best Picture win. By being shunted to the third last category of the night, it was all a bit lost in the shuffle.
When McDormand won minutes later in Best Actress, she did a fly-by 15-second speech, having already used her best material during the Best Picture acceptance.
And Chloe Zhao, whose historic win in Best Director – only the second woman ever in 93 years and the first non-white woman – was bumped up to much earlier in the night when the category is usually one of the last, almost forgotten by the time it rolled to an end.
A disservice to Nomadland, a disservice to all the viewers who tuned in and a disservice to the Oscars' prestige.