“Moonlight” took home the award for best picture at the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday evening — but not before the award was mistakenly given to the cast and crew of “La La Land.”
The producers of “La La Land,” which entered the night with 14 nominations, were already delivering their acceptance speeches when those onstage began to realise an error had been made.
The accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is in charge of tallying the votes, is investigating how the error occurred.
Only two people at the firm knew the results before they were announced.
So how did a mistake of this magnitude happen?
- Instead of the “Best Picture” card, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were mistakenly given the card for “Actress in a Leading Role,” which named “La La Land” actress Emma Stone as the winner.
- Two cards are created for each winner. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the firm that counts the votes and safeguards the winners, gives one set each to its partners, Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan.
- One of the two sets that should have been discarded after Emma Stone received her best actress award was instead given to Beatty by mistake.
- Beatty hesitated after opening the envelope, which the audience took to be part of a joke.
- Dunaway took the paper from him and announced the winner as “La La Land.” Beatty later said the card actually read “Emma Stone, ‘La La Land’.”
- The cast and crew celebrated and made their way to the stage. Producer Jordan Horowitz kicked off the acceptance speeches with emotional thank yous
- As the speeches were handed over to other crew members, Horowitz looked confused.
- A man wearing a headset approached the crew holding another envelope, which was shown to Horowitz and the cast and crew.
- The speeches were interrupted by Horowitz, who said, “There’s been a mistake. Moonlight, you won Best Picture.”
- He showed the real Best Picture card, which listed “Moonlight” as the winner for the camera to see.
- Beatty, who had also reappeared, confirmed this was the case.
- The shocked “Moonlight” cast began to celebrate, as the stunned cast and crew of “La La Land” started to leave the stage.
- Jimmy Kimmel approached the microphone, stating: “This is very unfortunate what happened.”
- Before leaving the stage, Horowitz said: “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from ‘Moonlight’.”
- Beatty approached again, to which Kimmel joked, “Warren, what did you do?”
- “I want to tell you what happened,” Beatty said. “I opened the envelope and it said, ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
- He told Deadline that he was given the Best Picture envelope by a stagehand.
- The audience cheered as the “Moonlight” cast and crew took the stage and began their speeches.
- Afterwards, Kimmel said: “Let’s remember, it’s just an award show.”
- While speaking to the press backstage, actress Emma Stone said: “I also was holding my best actress in a leading role card that entire time. So whatever the story … I don’t mean to start stuff, but whatever story that was, I had that card. So I’m not sure what happened.”
- PricewaterhouseCoopers released a statement saying: “We sincerely apologise to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture.”
- “The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”
- PwC partners Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan are the only two people in the world who knew the result before it was announced, according to Forbes.
- According to the BBC, two sets of envelopes are created, one for each of the partners. It appears one of the duplicates made its way into the hands of Beatty and Dunaway.
Watch the chaos unfold below: