Update, 7 a.m.: PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm which oversees Oscar ballots, has issued a statement about last night’s Best Picture gaffe.
“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 statement reads. “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.
“We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”
This article was originally published on February 26.
Here’s what happened: Hollywood legends Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway took the stage to present the award for Best Picture. Beatty began to read out the card, taking a long, dramatic pause and looking at Dunaway, who then read the winner: ” La La Land.”
Nobody was surprised (it was the favorite), everyone cheered, the people at home who were rooting for Moonlight groaned, and the whole La La Land gang took the stage to accept the top honor. The acceptance speeches started — but then the stage started looking a little chaotic as people shuffled on and off. The very next moment, the hugest fiasco in Oscar history came to light.
Two accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which tabulates the Academy’s votes, rushed onto the stage to deliver the most unexpected news ever to the winners. Then, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz took the mic. “Guys, I’m sorry,” he began. “There’s been a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture.”
SHUT THE FUCK UP. Is this a sick joke? A Kimmel-orchestrated prank gone terribly wrong? Is this the La La Land people’s version of Adele’s tribute to Beyoncé at the Grammys earlier this month? Nope, nope, and nope.
“This is not a joke,” Horowitz said. “I’m afraid they read the wrong thing. This is not a joke, Moonlight has won Best Picture.” He held up the card so the camera could zoom in on it — and verify that what just happened actually did just happen. “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight, ” he added, showing some major composure and grace at a moment when most of our brains were essentially short-circuiting. Most gracious fake winner/actual loser ever?
Anyways, yes. Moonlight won. La La Land lost. They read the wrong card. Moonlight WON. MOONLIGHT WON!!!!! This is not a drill. This is not a prank. This is not a hallucination. What it is is literally the biggest, strangest, most exciting, most pleasantly surprising screw-up possible.
While everyone in the audience (and watching live) was struggling to accept the reality that this really just occurred on live TV with millions of eyeballs watching, Jimmy Kimmel did his best to keep things light. “This is very unfortunate, what happened. Personally, I blame Steve Harvey for this,” he joked, referencing when Harvey read aloud the wrong winner of Miss Universe. “Warren, what did you do?!” (How Kimmel had the ability to think humorously on his feet, here — while our jaws were still on the floor — we truly have no idea.)
Then, Beatty — who was feeling just slightly embarrassed, we imagine — returned to the mic to try to clarify what occurred. Yes, I believe we all deserve an explanation here. “I want to tell you what happened,” he said. “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 [the audience]. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
We certainly hope not, because there was nothing funny about it! But it does sound like it wasn’t his fault? We don’t understand. (But, like, do we need to?)
And then, finally, Moonlight director Barry Jenkins had his well-deserved time at the mic. “Very clearly, even in my dreams this could not be true,” he began. “But to hell with dreams, I’m done with it. ‘Cause this is true.” Accurate.
Our hearts are still beating super-fast, and we’re still in joyful shock over the fact that Moonlight is the Best Picture winner. The only thing else we have left to say is that this is a truly unprecedented gaffe — and surely one that will never be repeated. That’s live TV for you!
Watch the bananas scene unfold below.
P.S. MOONLIGHT WON!!!!!!!!!
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