Annually, the most prestigious and esteemed actors of the year gather at Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, Calif. to acknowledge their artistic achievements in the form of flouncy dresses, tight suits, flying Junior Mints, Donald Trump jokes and small, golden statues. A nomination for an Oscar is one of the highest accomplishments producers, directors, editors and actors can receive throughout their entire career. The highest award possible, introduced at the end of the three hour long ceremony, is the “Best Picture” award, offered to the films that exude cinematic perfection for that year.
The race was tight this year, with “La La Land,” “Arrival,” “Lion,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hidden Figures,” “Moonlight,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Fences” competing against one another for Best Picture. Heading into the awards ceremony, “La La Land” had very high hopes — and high audience ratings — for winning the Oscar. Most critics, audience members and other actors and actresses believed “La La Land” was taking home Best Picture.
Actors Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway walked on stage with a red envelope clutched in their hands, all eyes in the room focused on the words inside the envelope. Beatty slowly ripped open the envelope and hesitated, seemingly confused at the contents on the page. He turned to Dunaway and handed her the envelope, and Dunaway screamed “La La Land” into the microphone while the directors, producers and actors of “La La Land” erupted into cheers and cries.
Once the crew piled on stage to receive their award, “La La Land” producer Fred Berger took the envelope from Dunaway along with the Oscar statue. But, when he read the words in the envelope, he walked up to the microphone and said, “We lost, by the way.”
“I’m sorry, there’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you won Best Picture. This is not a joke,” Jordan Horowitz, another “La La Land” producer said.
The envelope Beatty and Dunaway read stated “Emma Stone, La La Land,” which is the card for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Beatty knew there was something wrong, but Dunaway read the envelope aloud anyway.
The firm responsible for calculating the winners based on the votes from the Academy, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), prepared two briefcases with two copies of the envelopes given to the presenters.
The mixup is still muddled, but supposedly one of the accountants backstage gave the extra copy of Best Actress in a Leading Role to Beatty and Dunaway rather than the actual Best Picture card, which read Moonlight.”
“I have to say, and it is true, it’s not fake: We’ve been on the road with these guys for so long. And that was so gracious and so generous of them,” ‘Moonlight’ director Barry Jenkins said in his acceptance speech. “My love to ‘La La Land.'”
In the 88 years of The Oscars, there has never been a mishap with the winners of a specific category. Although “La La Land” revelled in the limelight for Best Picture for only a short few moments, “Moonlight” took home the golden statue for Best Picture and host Jimmy Kimmel made several “Should I laugh?” jokes, the Oscars remains as one of the most fanciful and prestigious nights for those attending and watching.