Everything We Know About the 2017 Oscars Best Picture Envelope Mix-Up

The show ended with an unexpected shocker

By Samantha Schnurr Feb 28, 2017 3:55 AMTags

UPDATE: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has released a statement following the Best Picture envelope mix-up.

"We deeply regret the mistakes that were made during the presentation of the Best Picture category during last night's Oscar ceremony. We apologize to the entire cast and crew of La La Land and Moonlight whose experience was profoundly altered by this error. We salute the tremendous grace they displayed under the circumstances. To all involved — including our presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the filmmakers, and our fans watching worldwide — we apologize," the statement read. "For the last 83 years, the Academy has entrusted PwC to handle the critical tabulation process, including the accurate delivery of results."

"PwC has taken full responsibility for the breaches of established protocols that took place during the ceremony," the statement continued. "We have spent last night and today investigating the circumstances, and will determine what actions are appropriate going forward. We are unwaveringly committed to upholding the integrity of the Oscars and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

PwC also shared a comment on Twitter that partly read, "For the past 83 years, the Academy has entrusted PwC with the integrity of the awards process during the ceremony, and last night we failed the Academy." 


It was a finale to never forget. 

While everyone watching the 2017 Oscars Sunday night thought the Best Picture winner would be announced, the audience would cheer, host Jimmy Kimmel would say goodbye and everyone would get up and leave in one fell swoop, the last moments of the Academy Awards were not so seamless. 

It began with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, two Hollywood legends, Oscar winners and former co-stars, who took the stage to present the last category of the evening, Best Picture. 

However, it seemed something was a touch awry when Beatty paused in between revealing the name of the film on the card he was holding. He looked down, looked back up and looked at Dunaway, while viewers watched and waited.

Meanwhile, Dunaway urged him to "come on" and announced La La Land herself. While some thought Beatty's reaction might have been a simple jest, in hindsight, it was a sign that things were not right with the card. 

Oscars 2017 Winners

As cast and crew of the Oscar's most nominated film in history filled the stage, producer Jordan Horowitz began a series of impassioned remarks to the audience, thanking his colleagues, parents and wife. Next, producer Marc Platt stepped up to speak, though as he offered his gratitude, curious activity ignited behind him as people ran onto the stage from the wings. Then, after giving his own acceptance speech, producer Fred Berger quipped, "We lost by the way" as he heard murmurings behind him. 

Quickly, Horowitz returned to the mic to reveal the true winner. "There's a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture. This is not a joke."

"This is not a joke. Moonlight has won Best Picture," he reiterated before holding up the correct winner's card. "Moonlight—Best Picture." 

Barry Jenkins, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Garfield, Michelle Williams and More React to the 2017 Oscars' Best Picture Mix-Up

As the cast and crew of Moonlight made their way to the stage, Beatty returned to the mic to explain himself. 

"I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope. 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," he said. "This is Moonlight, the Best Picture."

Upon closer look, the envelope Beatty was holding had "Best Actress in a Leading Role" printed on the front, an indication that he had the wrong envelope with him when the presentation began. 

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PricewaterhouseCoopers, the firm that has managed the Oscars' balloting process for more than 80 years, vowed to investigate "how this could have happened" and said that the presenters had been given the wrong card. 

"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," a statement from the company read.

"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."

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Watch: "La La Land" Producer Breaks Down the "Moonlight" Mix-Up

Following the ceremony, Horowitz recalled how the entire moment unfolded to E!'s Zuri Hall

"There was a stagehand guy who started buzzing around looking for the envelope, and I had taken the envelope from whomever—either Warren Beatty or Faye Dunaway. I walked up there, I took the thing and I did my speech and I was just holding the envelope. Then one of the stagehand guys came on and started looking for the envelope and asked me for my envelope. He opened it and it said Emma Stone, La La Land' on it, right? At that moment it was clear that there was a problem, and so then they started looking for the Best Picture envelope," the movie producer said. 

"At a certain point there was clearly a Best Picture envelope that said Moonlight on it, and I happened to be standing next to the stagehand when that happened. It happened really fast," Horowitz continued. "Listen, I'm a producer. I gather things together and I change directions and I kind of march things forward. I had just gotten finished saying how much love there was in the community and I want to do sort of diverse and bold work, and so to be able to actually put that into action and make that physical by bringing those guys up onstage and giving them the award that they won...I don't want to say it was an honor, because it was really confusing."

Jimmy Kimmel Jokes He's Responsible for La La Land and Moonlight's Best Picture Switcheroo at the 2017 Oscars

After stepping off stage, Kimmel also commented on the situation, though he was just as confused as everyone else. 

"I don't know the whole story. There are a couple things I do know, though. The envelope Warren Beatty was holding said Best Actress. That I do know. He was confused, because the card—which he showed to be me, by the way—said, 'Emma Stone, La La Land.' We thought he was being coy and cute and milking it, but in reality he was as perplexed as anybody," the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host reportedly said during ABC's Oscar after-show. "You do a talk show every night. You thrive on these moments. This is exactly what you want."

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

While there is much still to sort out, the true outcome was a welcomed surprise for Moonlight's director, Barry Jenkins

"It's a little bit mixed up, but [I'm] happy as hell. We won Best Picture," he told E! News afterward. "As a kid, you watch the Oscars and you imagine being up onstage, and I was up there twice. It's a beautiful feeling."


As for Steve Harvey, who famously accidentally announced the wrong winner at the the 2015 Miss Universe pageant, he does feel a bit of relief to know he's not the only one. 

"I would like to say in the words of Martin Luther King...'Free at last, free at last, Thank God almighty, I'm free at last,'" he said during his morning radio show Monday. "It ain't just me!"

(Originally published February 27, 2017 at 11:17 a.m. PST) 

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