And the Oscar goes to…no, wait, seriously, who does it go to? As the 2017 Academy Awards came to a close on the evening of Feb. 26, the biggest night of cinematic magic suffered a major snafu.
When Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presented the coveted best picture award to “La La Land,” the film’s grateful cast and crew flooded the stage to make a tearful acceptance speech, only to be interrupted and alerted too late that a serious error had been made. The award was actually meant for the drama “Moonlight.”
When “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz abruptly ended his speech by saying “We lost, by the way,” audience members assumed it was a joke. The laughter quickly dissipated when Horowitz snatched the envelope from Beatty’s hands and asserted “There’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture. This is not a joke.” The stunned audience watched as the “La La Land” crew welcomed the overjoyed “Moonlight” party onstage to accept the award.
The colossal gaffe resulted from a simple mishap which occurred when Beatty was evidently handed the wrong envelope. In an interview with the New York Times, Beatty stated “I read the card that was in the envelope. I thought, ‘this is very strange because it says best actress on the card.’ And I felt that maybe there was some sort of misprint.” Many accusing fingers were pointed in different directions that evening, even at Beatty and Dunaway. But, ultimately, the much unwanted blame fell back on members of the PwC.
PricewaterhouseCoopers is an accounting firm that is tasked with the monumental responsibility of tallying up the Academy Awards’ votes, and has done so for the past 83 years. They are also responsible for handing over the right envelope at the right time.
“We are owning this mistake,” said Tim Ryan, the U.S. chairman of the PwC, in an interview with the New York Times. “I’ve reached out to the academy. I’ve shared my personal apology, the firm’s apology, and I’ve begun to talk to them about things we can do to make it right.”
Since the incident, Twitter and other social media pages have been abuzz with questions, jokes, and even conspiracy theories, some cinephiles even suspecting that the results may have been hacked. And whether they were thrilled by “Moonlight’s” surprise win or angered by “La La Land’s” upsetting loss, movie fans will continue to look back on the blunder as one of the most exciting and unforgettable moments in the history of the Academy Awards.