A Frame-By-Frame Breakdown Of The Two-And-A-Half Minutes When 'La La Land' Was Best Picture
On Sunday night, in what appears to be an entirely unprecedented situation, Bonnie and Clyde duo Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced the wrong winner for Best Picture, leading the La La Land team to believe they'd won Best Picture for just over two minutes, before La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz announced that Hollywood's biggest trophy actually belonged to Moonlight—and chaos ensued.
The full set of facts surrounding the epic Academy Awards fiasco of 2017 are still emerging, but here's what we have so far, in a moment-by-moment breakdown of the mix-up.
The trouble began as soon as Beatty opened the envelope and the legendary actor stalled over the words. At the time, it appeared as if he was engaging in a not particularly funny bit, riffing on the fact that this was the award everyone was waiting for. But in retrospect, something was clearly way off: take at look at his face and just try and tell me that Warren Beatty isn't silently signaling for help:
"I opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone, "La La Land." That's why I took such a long look at Faye ... I wasn't trying to be funny. This is Moonlight the best picture," Beatty would clarify soon after.
But in the meantime, Dunaway still thought Beatty was being cute, and she didn't have time for that shit. "You're impossible," she playfully told the actor. "Come on!"
Beatty, who was clearly at a loss for what do, handed the envelope to Dunaway. Reading the words La La Land on the card, Dunaway proceeded to announce the movie as Best Picture:
The cameras cut to the La La Land cast and crew hugging and celebrating (as one does when you've just been announced as the Best Picture winner!), but if you rewind your DVR and listen very, very closely, you can hear Beatty saying something along the lines of "But it says Emma Stone."
The La La Land cast and crew then took the stage (again, as one does when you've just been announced as the Best Picture winner!), and the telecast's final category appeared to be proceeding without a hitch, albeit with a slightly more boring ending than many had hoped for. La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz (who would soon trade his ill-fated Oscar for internet folk hero status, but so much was still to come) started things off as usual, by thanking the Academy while more members of the La La Land team filtered onto the stage:
Fellow producer Marc Platt went on to deliver his acceptance speech, again, as normal... However, if you look at producer Fred Berger's face while Platt is talking, he was clearly starting to realize that SOMETHING was up, as he looks from one side of the stage to the other:
Now, if you look to Platt's right, you'll see that Horowitz is also starting to sense trouble during Platt's speech. Watch his face:
Platt's speech continues, while some guys with headsets run onstage:
One of those headset wearers, according to Slate, is a stage manager. He takes the envelope from Horowitz's hands (Horowitz doesn't appear to have looked at it yet, fwiw).
Now watch Horowitz slowly back away from the center of the stage after handing over the envelope. Emma Stone is suddenly looking a little confused, whereas Ryan Gosling doesn't appear to have any idea of what is going on.
Fred Berger then proceeds to take the microphone and deliver his acceptance speech, although he MAY already know that La La Land lost. It's during his speech that Emma Stone clearly figures out what's happened—watch her face:
She then appears to mouth "oh my god."
By this point, Berger is wrapping up his speech. He briefly turns around and possibly says (or hears?) something to the fracas growing behind him... And then he makes the historic announcement. "By the way, we lost."
Horowitz then returns to the microphone, declaring "I'm sorry—no—there's a mistake—Moonlight—you guys won Best Picture," and throwing the auditorium into chaos.
Was there actually a mistake? Was this just some crazy white guilt thing? For about five seconds (slash an actual eternity) no one seemed to know, and then a voice (possibly Platt) can be heard saying "This is not a joke, I’m afraid they read the wrong thing,” into a microphone.
"This is not a joke, Moonlight has won Best Picture," Horowitz reiterated into the microphone. He then pulled the card from Beatty's hands and held it up for all to see:
The stunned auditorium rose to their feet in applause, as members of the Moonlight team embraced.
"Guys, this is very unfortunate, what happened," Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel then said. "Personally, I blame Steve Harvey for this. I would like to see you get an Oscar, anyway. Why can’t we just give out a whole bunch of them?"
"I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight" Horowitz interrupted, before Kimmel quipped "That’s nice of you."
As the cast and crew of Moonlight took the stage they exchanged embraces with Team La La Land, in what has to be the most surreal Oscar moment of all time. Beatty then briefly commandeered the microphone again, this time to try and explain what the hell just happened.
Here's the transcript of his exchange with Kimmel, per The New York Times:
Warren Beatty: Hello. Hello. I want — Kimmel: Warren, what did you do!?
Beatty: I want to tell you what happened. 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.
Kimmel: Well, you were funny.
Beatty: Thank you very much, thank you very much. This is “Moonlight” — the best picture.
FINALLY, the Moonlight team approached the microphone to accept their award. And the rest, as they say, is history. We just hope the "mix-up" doesn't take away from the real story of the night, which is, of course, Moonlight's triumphant win.
Producer Adele Romanski (C), writer/director Barry Jenkins, producer Jeremy Kleiner and cast/crew members accept Best Picture for 'Moonlight' onstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
On Monday morning, PricewaterhouseCoopers the accounting firm responsible for tabulating Oscar votes and getting the right envelopes into the hands of presenters (talk about a YOU HAD ONE JOB situation...) issued a statement of apology:
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 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.