Shocking gaffe at The Oscars

Screenshot courtesy of ABC News/YouTube – The correct card showing “Moonlight,” the actual winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The 89th Academy Awards ceremony featured an unprecedented mistake on Sunday night. “Moonlight,” the 2016 film directed by Barry Jenkins, took home the Academy Award for Best Picture, but not without confusion.   

The two presenters for the award, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, walked up to the microphone to open the envelope, and that’s when things started to unravel. Beatty, who was in charge of opening the envelope, visibly hesitated as he looked at the name of the would-be winner. He looked at the card and then up at Dunaway, as if in disbelief. Dunway and the audience assumed Beatty was just being funny. At that point, he showed her the card, and she read it aloud: “La La Land.”

The audience burst into applause, and the cast and crew of “La La Land” made their way up to the stage to accept the award. Producer Justin Horowitz was first to speak, and then producer Marc Platt gave his speech. During Platt’s speech, a commotion started behind him, and members of “La La Land” started to look confused. Someone approached the producers with a red envelope, at which point producer Fred Berger grabbed the envelope and the microphone and announced that “Moonlight” was in fact the real winner of the award.

Horowitz then took the microphone to clarify what had transpired. Perhaps surprisingly, Horowitz took the gaffe in stride, and did not appear to be visibly shaken or annoyed at the mistake or the presenters.

“I’m sorry, there’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture,” he said. “This is not a joke.”

Horowitz showed the contents of the correct envelope to the audience, and the camera zoomed in to reveal, “Moonlight” as the winner for best picture of 2016.

Host Jimmy Kimmel took the microphone to attempt to lighten the mood and settle the confusion. Kimmel made a joke in reference to Steve Harvey’s widely publicized mistake in reading the winner of the Miss Universe pageant.

“Personally, I blame Steve Harvey for this,” Kimmel said.

Beatty then clarified what initially looked like his mistake.

“I want to tell you what happened,” Beatty 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 [the audience]. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

It has been confirmed that Beatty and Dunaway were given the incorrect envelope, so they have at least avoided the heat that Steve Harvey got after his mistake.

PwC, an accounting firm formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been in charge of counting the votes for the Academy Awards for the past 83 years. The firm’s sole job is to tally the votes and give the presenters the right envelopes to read, which they failed to do on Sunday night. The fact that PwC could not do its one job, and that the mistake came on perhaps the biggest award of the night, means that the gaffe will forever be a part of Oscars history. PwC has since issued a statement taking responsibility for the mistake, and apologized for causing the on-air fiasco for the presenters and the cast and crew of “La La Land.”

The cast and crew of “Moonlight” then made its way to the stage to accept the award that was rightfully theirs. Director Barry Jenkins was overjoyed to accept the award on the film’s behalf.

“Very clearly, even in my dreams this could not be true,” Jenkins said. “But to hell with dreams. I’m done with it because this is true.”

Jenkins also spoke about the mistake backstage after the dust from the flub had settled a bit.

“Things just happen, you know? But I will say I saw two cards. And Warren refused to show the card [he was given] to anybody before he showed it to me,” Jenkins said. “And so he did, and I felt better about what had happened. I will say to all you people, please write this down: The folks from “La La Land” were so gracious. I can’t imagine being in their position and having to do that. We spent a lot of time together over the last six months, and I can’t imagine being in their position and having to do that. I wasn’t speechless because we won. I was speechless because it was so gracious of them to do that.”

The writer of “Moonlight,” Tarell Alvin McCraney, was also very moved by the Oscars win.

“This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender conforming who don’t see themselves,” McCraney said. “We are trying to show you, you and us, so thank you, thank you. This is for you.”

And so, “Moonlight” took home the Academy Award for Best Picture after some confusion, controversy, and some awkward live-television moments. “La La Land” still had a successful night at the Oscars, but the cast and crew may still feel some sting after the fiasco.

Written by Walker Chuppe, Arts & Culture Editor