UPDATED: In the most chaotic conclusion to the Academy Awards ever, Faye Dunaway, on stage with Warren Beatty, announced the wrong best picture winner Sunday, leading the world to incorrectly believe for three minutes that “La La Land” bested “Moonlight.”
Dunaway made the mistaken announcement after Beatty apparently gave her the wrong envelope. Acceptance speeches from “La La Land” producers Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt, and Fred Berger followed before Horowitz stepped in to say “Moonlight” had won.
So, the question is… what in the world happened to the usually meticulously planned Oscar winner announcement?
Beatty told the audience that they had read the wrong envelope, and that it was in fact the envelope that said Emma Stone won best lead actress for “La La Land,” a prize that had been announced just moments before.
“I opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone, ‘La La Land,'” he explained. “That’s why I looked at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.” Host Jimmy Kimmel then took to the microphone to ask, “Warren, what did you do?!”
If Twitter can be trusted, it looks like Kimmel should take back his light-hearted blaming of Beatty. Several people, including 2015 host Neil Patrick Harris, posted pictures that proved the presenters were, in fact, given the best actress envelope.
Plus, it’s worth noting that both presenters did look thoroughly confused. As Beatty opened the card, visibly thrown, he handed it to Dunaway, who then said “La La Land.”
Beatty did not elaborate as to how it was that he came into possession of the wrong announcement. Stone added another twist to the mystery backstage, telling reporters, “I was holding my best actress card the whole time.”
That’s actually not too unusual, however. There are always two sets of envelopes: The PriceWaterhouseCoopers accountants bring two briefcases, then stand backstage, one on each side of the stage. They hand the envelopes to the presenters right before they walk out.
Backstage, “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins elaborated further that they were given “no explanation,” but that he did see the famed card. “Things just happen,” he said. “I will say, I saw two cards. And so, things just happen. I wanted to see the card, to see the card. Warren refused to show the card to anybody before he showed it to me. And so he did. He came upstairs and he walked over to me, and he showed the card. And everybody was asking, ‘Can I see the card’? And he’s like, ‘no, Barry Jenkins has to see the card, I need him to know.’ And he showed it to me. I felt better about what happened.”
“The folks from ‘La La Land’ were so gracious,” he went on. “I can’t imagine being in their position and having to do that. We spent a lot of time together over the past six months.”
Reporters didn’t get to hear from “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle, however. He did not go backstage for the customary rapidfire press conference, and left the Governors Ball early, at 10:45 p.m., before any of the other winners.
In a breakdown of the scene, the Associated Press wrote that, as Horowitz and Platt read their speeches, something seemed “amiss” behind the scenes. “There’s commotion among the people standing behind him as a man wearing headphones appears and checks red envelopes being held by producers,” reads the report.
According to another report, from Vanity Fair, as the “La La Land” went to accept the prize, a stage manager whispered, “Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! They read the wrong envelope.” Oscar producer Jennifer Todd reportedly said to a crew member, “But how did they both read the wrong thing?”
“I don’t know what just happened,” said Kimmel, according to the report. “I should probably find out, because people are gonna be asking.” Oscar producer Michael de Luca echoed that he would “leave it to the Academy to comment.” “I still don’t know what happened.”
So where does the blame lie? Not with Beatty, Dunaway, or the Academy, but it seems like PriceWaterhouseCoopers. As “Hacksaw Ridge” producer David Permut noted shortly after the ceremony at the Governors Ball, “The finger is going to be pointed at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The buck stops with them. I don’t know why someone didn’t get on the speaker to correct it sooner. Wow, that was weird.” Weird indeed.
Early Monday morning, PriceWaterhouseCoopers issued the following statement:
“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.”
The Academy has yet to officially comment.