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How the Oscar Best Picture Mixup That Gave ‘La La Land’ Award Instead of Winner ‘Moonlight’ Happened

'Moonlight' wins best picture after historic Oscar mixup that briefly gives award to 'La La Land'
(left to right) ‘La La Land’ producer Jordan Horowitz holds up the winner card reading actual Best Picture winner ‘Moonlight’ with actor Warren Beatty and host Jimmy Kimmel onstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017, in Hollywood, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)


The Oscars best picture race produced the most shocking announcement gaffe since “Dewey Beats Truman.” In a stunning sequence, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope for the Academy Award’s final and biggest award on Sunday night. Instead of best picture, they opened a duplicate of Emma Stone’s card for best actress and assumed that meant La La Land won. It didn’t. Moonlight did. As the La La Land producers gave their victory speeches, it was one of the presumed winners, Jordan Horowitz, who revealed the mistake after being informed by a stagehand. “There’s a mistake,” Horowitz told the stunned crowd at the Dolby Theatre. “Moonlight, you guys won best picture.

“This is not a joke, come up here. Moonlight has won best picture.” Beatty tried to explain how a normally staid awards show could have such a twist ending. “I opened the envelope and it said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ That’s why I looked at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.” Beatty said, looking at Stone, who had just won minutes earlier. It was an embarrassment of historic proportions in the 89-year history of the most important night of the year on the Hollywood calendar. Host Jimmy Kimmel did his best to lighten the mood in the Dolby Theatre, joking “I knew I’d screw up the Oscars,” but the real blame has to fall on accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has overseen the ballots for the awards for 83 years. The firm usually provides two copies of the sealed envelope containing the winner’s name in a briefcase, with the duplicate kept backstage as backup, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected,” the company said in a public apology. “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.”

Watch the big Oscars gaffe below.

—RealClearLife Staff