We still don’t have a total understanding of what the hell happened when Faye Dunaway read out “La La Land” instead of the actual Best Picture winner, Moonlight during last night’s Oscars. However, some clues are starting to emerge. For one, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that’s tabulated the results for 83 years, issued an apology, explaining that the presenters were given the envelope from the wrong category. Indeed, zoom in on the envelope presenter Warren Beatty was holding, and you’ll see it clearly said “Actress In A Leading Role.”
“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 read (via the Los Angeles Times). “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.”
Before the ceremony, PricewaterhouseCooper’s Brian Cullinan and Martha L. Ruiz touted the honed process they follow in an interview with MarketWatch. Cullinan said they come to the show equipped with two ”identical” briefcases stuffed with “two entire sets of winning envelopes.” The Times itself reported back in 2016 that the two accountants then dole out said envelopes from either side of the stage.
On screen, viewers got a taste of the pandemonium that unfolded. Behind the scenes People revealed that someone yelled out “Oh my God, it’s not La La Land, it’s Moonlight!” Meanwhile, the likes of Moonlight director Barry Jenkins and La La Land star Emma Stone have their own takes on what occurred. Facing the press backstage, Best Actress winner Stone said: “I also was 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. So I’m not sure what happened.“ Jenkins said he was given “no explanation” for the situation. ”But I will say I saw two cards,” he explained, adding that Beatty “refused to show the card to anybody before he showed it to me.” Vanity Fair’s correspondent backed this up, writing that even when the stage manager asked Beatty to relinquish the envelopes to security, Beatty declared: “I’ll give them to Barry Jenkins at an appropriate moment.”
Beatty—who appeared befuddled when it came time to announce the winner—told the Los Angeles Times that he saw “best actress” on the card he was holding. “I looked down at the card and thought, this is very strange, because it says best actress,” he said. “Maybe there was a misprint. I don’t know what happened. And that’s all I have I have to say on the subject.”
At least those involved are being ridiculously good sports. In the wee hours of the morning Jenkins tweeted praise for La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz, who took charge of the situation on stage and called up the Moonlight group.
Horowitz replied with congratulations.