How the Biggest Blunder in Oscars History Happened

'It wasn't Warren's fault,' Dunaway says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2017 5:19 AM CST
How the Oscars Fiasco Happened
Faye Dunaway, from left, accountant Brian Cullinan, AMPAS staffer, and Warren Beatty discuss the result.   (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Bonnie and Clyde appear to be off the hook after the most shocking moment in Oscars history—the blunder that saw La La Land announced as Best Picture, only for Moonlight to be declared the real winner when the former film's producers had almost finished their speeches. Accounting firm PwC, which oversees the ballot-counting, says Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong category envelope. "We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred," the company formerly known as Price Waterhouse Coopers said in a statement to the AP, apologizing to the presenters, both movies, and Oscars viewers for the fiasco. A roundup of coverage:

  • The Guardian has photos showing moment by moment how things went wrong. Beatty can be seen carrying the red envelope for "Actress in a Leading Role," which he opens, then hands to Dunaway. He later said he was confused because it said "Emma Stone: La La Land." She reads out the movie title. With the La La Land team on stage, Oscars overseers can be seen examining the envelope.

  • USA Today reports that as the La La Land team went on stage, a PwC accountant backstage shouted "He took the wrong envelope!" and ran onstage.
  • "I was ecstatic, it was amazing. I thought we won an Oscar," La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz tells the Hollywood Reporter. But then, "some guys in headsets started buzzing around. It became clear that something was wrong."
  • The New York Times has a transcript of the chaotic minutes onstage. "I'm going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight," says Horowitz graciously.
  • La La Land star Ryan Gosling could be seen apparently trying not to laugh during the mix-up, though the BBC's Martha Kearney says he had a "face like thunder" while waiting for a limo after the ceremony.
  • This has never happened before in any category in Oscars history, Vox reports in a look at how PwC handles the envelopes—and at its procedure for handling mix-ups.
  • "It was very quick, I can't talk about it. The card read that way. It was a very odd thing," Dunaway tells the Telegraph, adding: "It wasn't Warren's fault."
  • La La Land star Stone told the media she was excited for Moonlight, which she considers one of the best movies of all time, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. But she added: "I was also holding my Best Actress in a Leading Role card that entire time. So whatever story, I don’t mean to start stuff, but whatever story that was, I had that card."
  • Variety notes that it was also a shock to many that Moonlight had won Best Picture at all, though it had won more best film prizes from critics groups than La La Land.
It turns out there was a second big fail on Sunday night. (More Oscars stories.)

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