This is how the Oscars managed to name the wrong winner
There was chaos and confusion at the Oscars after gay-themed film Moonlight won the best picture prize.
Before announcing it had won, Faye Dunaway mistakenly told everyone that La La Land had got Best Picture.
The stars at the Dolby Theatre were visibly shaken by the experience, as the cast of La La Land had to skulk off stage, realising they hadn’t really won.
Moonlight, which stars Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert, explores the life of an African-American boy at different ages – portraying him struggling to reconcile his sexuality and identity.
Now accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have apologised for the mistake, saying it was their fault.
The firm is responsible for the balloting process of the Oscars prizes, one of the largest professional services firms in the world, and a leading auditor.
Within hours of the mix-up, the company released a statement saying it “deeply regretted” the mistake, saying “the presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope”.
The company has been doing the process for 83 years, with PwC veterans Martha L Ruiz and Brian Cullinan the only people to know the results beforehand.
That meant that absolutely nobody – not Jimmy Kimmel hosting, not the producers, nor the stars on stage – knew the actual result.
When Warren Beatty was handed the envelope, it read “Emma Stone, La La Land”, it then had a line at the bottom with “Best Actress” in small writing.
Beatty can be seen looking confused as he looks at the envelope, then passing it to Faye Dunaway, who immediately said “La La Land!”
That was when it began to unravel – after the La La Land stars came on stage, producer Jordan Horowitz said: “There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won best picture.
“This is no joke. I’m afraid they read the wrong thing. This is not a joke, Moonlight, you won best picture.”
It turns out two of every envelope are made, with one on each side of the stage.
Despite Emma Stone having her Best Actress card in her hand the whole time, the spare card for her award had wrongly been given to Beatty and Dunaway, causing the confusion.
Ruiz and Cullinan from PwC stand at either side of the stage throughout the night with each briefcase containing the winners, and it seems that one of them handed the wrong card over.
Moonlight was the real winner of the Oscar.
In its statement, the firm said: “We sincerely apologise… 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.”
“The reason we were even first asked to take on this role was because of the reputation PwC has in the marketplace for being a firm of integrity, of accuracy and confidentiality and all of those things that are really key to the role we have with the Academy and counting these ballots,” said Mr Cullinan in a promotional video highlighting the company’s role in the ceremony.
“It’s really symbolic of how we are thought of beyond this role and how our clients think of us, and I think it is something we take very seriously and take a lot of pride in.
“We have the winners in sealed envelopes that we hold and maintain throughout the evening and hand those to the presenters just before they walk out on stage.”
Beatty came back after the mistake and said: “I want to tell you what happened I opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone, La La Land and that is why I took such a long look at Faye and at you.
“I wasn’t trying to be funny. This is Moonlight for best picture.”
Moonlight has been praised by critics and LGBT people alike for its “exploration of gay black masculinity… managing to do so without ever diminishing the lives full of complex humanity that black gay men still manage to have in America while navigating that reality”.
Moonlight has become the first LGBT-themed film to win the best picture Oscar.