For about two minutes, La La Land was the Best Picture Oscar winner of the 89th Academy Awards. And then it wasn’t.
In one of the most astounding moments in Academy Award’s history, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway got up on stage to announce La La Land as the winner of Best Picture 2017. The producers, cast, and crew took the stage and began to read their acceptance speeches. Suddenly, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz grabbed the mic and announced a mistake had been made. He tore the card from Beatty’s hand and produced it for the camera, clearly showing Moonlight as the winner.
Thanks to The New York Times, we now know is this: two partners from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the firm that handles the sealed envelopes containing the winners’ names, stood on either side of the stage during the ceremony. Each had a briefcase containing the winners’ envelopes, and the envelopes were the same in both cases. The envelope for Best Actress, containing Emma Stone’s win, came from one side. Its sister envelope was accidentally delivered to Beatty from the other side.
Beatty took several moments to read the letter. He saw Emma Stone’s name and thought that it was a misprint, so he handed it to Dunaway, who read out the film on the card: La La Land. As Team La La Land took the stage, the partners from PWC realized their mistake and contacted a stage manager. For those that watched, this is what led to the commotion of stage hands and security on stage asking for envelopes.
Horowitz realized something was wrong by the chaos, and handed his envelope to a stage hand, who showed him that the winner was Moonlight. At that point, Horowitz took the stage. The rest is history.
PWC has issued an apology to everyone involved, and has begun an investigation into exactly how this mistake was possible.
Want to know more about one of the greatest mistakes in live-televised history? Make sure to check back with Monkeys Fighting Robots as the situation develops!