Best Picture Mix-Up: How the Oscar night ended in such a [email protected]

Normally by the end of the Oscars, whether you’re watching at home or someone at the ceremony, only snores and chair shifting can be heard by the end of the three and a half ceremony. But last night, the only sounds that could be heard were of confused/elated applause and sounds relating to, “What the [email protected] is happening?”  If you’re one of the dorks who has no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the rub:

Last night at the Oscars, as a ceremony filled with the usual (comedy bits, long speeches, unnecessary segments, etc.) was coming to a close, BONNIE AND CLYDE stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway came out to announce the winner of best picture. Beatty opened the envelope, and in looking at the contents stood there looking confused and tongue tied, only to pass the envelope over to Dunaway who then announced LA LA LAND as the winner. The producers and stars came up hugging and crying, only to then be told there was a mistake, and the indie darling MOONLIGHT was actually the big winner. There were gasps, then applause, but backstage it was like a scene out of HACKSAW RIDGE.

It all began when Beatty was initially given the wrong envelope, one that had the contents of the winner for best actress inside (Emma Stone for LAND). People were aware that Beatty was given the wrong envelope, but the star apparently could not be stopped once he started going. “Warren Beatty won’t give up the envelope! Security is coming,” one person was heard saying (via People).

Then the real chaos began when the wrong winner was read, as F-bombs a plenty were most likely circulating backstage. The confusion could be seen on-stage, and LAND producer, Jordan Horowitz, recalls it happening like this (via THR):

Guys in headsets starting buzzing around. They took the envelope I had. It said 'Emma Stone, La La Land' on it. It was clear there was something wrong. They started looking for the best picture envelope. Nobody knew where it was. Then it appeared. They opened it next to me and it said 'Moonlight.' And so I grabbed it. I had to fix the situation.

That’s when Horowitz knew he had to step up, and took to the mic, saying to a crowd who thought they were being punk’d, “There’s been a mistake. Moonlight, you won best picture. This is not a joke."

Even MOONLIGHT director Barry Jenkins didn’t know what to think, as he sat gobsmacked in the audience:

We were sitting on the wing, I had a direct beat on the screen and I saw the feed went out. I knew something was a little bit off, but I didn't know what. I could see Jordan's face and that's when I realized something was happening. I could see in his face that it wasn't a joke.

But the MOONLIGHT crew went up and accepted their much-deserved award, while everyone else at the Dolby Theater and at home were left wondering what the [email protected] happened. Stone had spoken to the press after she walked off-stage (as is custom for winners) saying she didn’t know what the issue was, saying she had her winning envelope with her the whole time (but did express her joy, saying she “[email protected] loved” MOONLIGHT). Many, like me, immediately began thinking of covert style cover-ups and Russian involvement, but the real answer is not so exciting, yet is still illuminating.

When it comes to how the Oscars handle business the accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers (who tally the votes and hold the winning envelopes in those fancy suitcases) actually make two copies for each category. This is so in the case of one being lost or stolen, there’s a backup. In terms of handing out the envelopes, both people in charge of the envelopes stand on alternate sides of the stage and take turns handing them out, depending on which side of the stage the presenter is coming from. Though it’s being investigated, it's probably in this shuffle where Beatty had mistakenly been given the wrong envelope.

Even though many can’t help but feel sorry for the embarrassed LA LA LAND crew, Horowitz received high praise for his handling of the issue, and looks back on the night with pride:

Look, we won six Oscars. The picture’s been a critical success, a financial success. It’s been a wild ride and it ended in spectacular fashion.

Still, some can’t help but feel bad for both movies, with CBS Films president Terry Press saying, "I felt sad for both movies. Moonlight did not get the moment it should have gotten, and La La Land did not get the moment it should have gotten."

PricewaterhouseCoopers made a statement saying:

We sincerely apologize 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.

So yeah…that all happened last night. Even though those involved – like the cast and crew of both movies, Beatty, Dunaway and host Jimmy Kimmel – held their heads high, and are not being met with blame, there is still going to be a hell of a backlash at PricewaterhouseCoopers. They had one job! And how can you not stop a man in his 70’s when you know he has the wrong info? Just push him down! Ugh. Though both movies are great, and we here at JoBlo congratulate LAND, MOONLIGHT, and all the honored films, I personally can’t help but agree with Press. The LAND crew got the taste of victory by getting to go up on stage to claim the big award – only to have it taken from them – and the MOONLIGHT crew will always be remembered as the movie that won best picture…after LA LA LAND did. It should’ve been so sweet for both movies, but the moment will always be mired with controversy...all because someone was too afraid to tackle an old man. Only something linked to 2016 could’ve ended this way, but at least Ryan Gosling has a sense of humor about it.

Check here for a list of all the winners!



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