The presenters for the final award — Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway — were incorrectly given the best actress award envelope. A confused Beatty saw Emma Stone’s name and “La La Land,” and handed the envelope to Dunaway, who then announced the musical as the Best Picture winner.
The “La La Land” cast took the stage and producers began their speeches. But they stopped midway when they realized their error.
“There’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight’ you guys won best picture,” Jordan Horowitz said to the shocked Dolby Theater audience. “This is not a joke, come up here” the producer added. “Moonlight has won best picture.”
Beatty then returned to the microphone to explain: “I want to tell you what happened. 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.”
“Moonlight” beat out “La La Land,” “Hidden Figures,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Arrival,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,” “Lion,” and “Fences.”
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It was nothing less than a shock for Barry Jenkins’ intimate study of a black youth coming to terms with his homosexuality to walk away with the win: Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” had been widely tipped as the frontrunner on the strength of a dominant precursor showing and top prizes from the Golden Globes, the Producers Guild, and the Directors Guild. Notably, though, “Moonlight” scored more best film prizes from critics groups around the country, making it a formidable dark horse every step of the way.
Watch the moment unfold below: