The most epic flub in Academy Awards history happened during the final minutes of the Sunday night broadcast, turning an otherwise fairly routine Oscar night into a live TV shockfest.
Somehow, “La La Land” was announced as the best picture winner. But then a major correction interrupted the acceptance speeches.
It turned out “Moonlight” was the actual winner, even though it took a while for everyone — from those attending the ceremony to those watching at home — to absorb what had happened.
The crew from “La La Land” was on stage accepting the award. Then one of the film’s producers, Jordan Horowitz, interrupted to announce: “There’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you won best picture. … This is not a joke, ‘Moonlight’ has won best picture.” Then, taking the envelope from presenter Warren Beatty, Horowitz held up the winner’s card for the world to see that he was being serious.
During the presentation of the best picture winner, Beatty, long known for his pause-laden, somewhat awkward public speaking style, had fumbled around and seemed confused before handing the envelope to his co-presenter Faye Dunaway, who read “La La Land” as the winner.
While it’s hard to fathom exactly what caused the fiasco, Beatty tried to clear up the incident during the broadcast by saying, “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. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
ABC’s after-party show aired a clip of best actress winner Stone saying that she was holding onto her envelope the entire time, shedding some doubt on Beatty’s explanation. But to further thicken the plot, ABC’s “Good Morning America” tweeted a photo showing that the envelope in Beatty’s hands was labeled “actress in a leading role.”
Early Monday morning, CNN reported the mix-up was the result of a duplicate best actress card — which should have been discarded by an awards show staffer after the best-actress presentation — instead being given to Beatty. The duplicate-card system is part of regular Oscar protocol, CNN said.
Taking the stage after the correction was made, “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins said, “Very clearly, even in my dreams, this couldn’t be true.”
“I’m sure everybody saw my face. I was speechless,” Jenkins told reporters afterward, according to USA Today. “That was awkward. It made a very special feeling even more special, but not in the way I expected. … Please write this down. The folks from ‘La La Land’ have been so gracious. I can’t imagine being in their position.”
A small-budget indie favorite, “Moonlight” told the story of a gay, African-American character’s life in three chapters covering his boyhood, teenhood and manhood. Jenkins, who directed it, was the co-winner of the best adapted screenplay prize.
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Kimmel ended the evening by saying. “I blame myself for this. Let’s remember, it’s just an awards show. …I knew I would screw this show up. I really did.”
During ABC’s after-party show, entertainment reporter Chris Connelly commented on the incident by saying, “Truly, I think with the exception of the streaker in ’74 … there’s never been anything as nutty as this on any award show.”
Somewhere, Steve Harvey is feeling a lot better about announcing the wrong winner at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant.
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