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The Daily Dish Awards Season

How in the World Did That Oscars Best Picture Mix-Up Even Happen?

Here's what we know so far about the epic Oscars fail.

By Laura Rosenfeld
Bravolebs Perform Famous Oscars Speeches

It's the Oscars moment that everyone's talking about. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway incorrectly presented this year's Academy Award for Best Picture to La La Land when it was actually supposed to go to Moonlight. Amid some major confusion, the cast and creative team behind La La Land left the stage as the people behind Moonlight stepped up to the mic to accept the prestigious trophy. 

Social media users responded with a wide range of emotions, from confusion to anger to shock to disbelief to humor, as the moment unfolded on live TV.


Warren immediately explained what happened onstage as the Moonlight team assembled to accept the award at the end of Sunday night's Oscars telecast. "I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope and it said, 'Emma Stone, La La Land,'" he said, suggesting that he had accidentally been given the envelope containing the Best Actress winner instead of the one for Best Picture. "That's why I took such a long look at Faye and at you. I wasn't trying to be funny."

According to PEOPLE, the legendary actor and director told a small group of reporters backstage at the Dolby Theatre, “I don’t know anything … I don’t think anyone knows. I’ve asked and I haven’t got an answer.”

“I read the card that was in the envelope,” Warren continued as he made his way to the Governors Ball. “I read it but I didn’t say La La Land. I thought, ‘This is very strange because it says Best Actress on the card.’ And I felt that maybe there was some sort of misprint.”

“As planned, I gave it to Faye,” he added. “And that’s all I want to say on the subject.”

Photos from the night confirm that the envelope in Warren's hand read "Actress in a Leading Role" on the front. "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," PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm in charge of the balloting for the Academy Awards, said in a statement. "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."

So how could he have ended up with the wrong envelope? That remains to be seen, but PwC's Brian Cullinan and Martha L. Ruiz, confirmed to MarketWatch in an interview prior to the Oscars ceremony that there are two sets of winning envelopes for security purposes. USA Today described a chaotic scene backstage when La La Land was erroneously announced as Best Picture: "As the La La Land filmmakers take the stage to accept best picture, the accountant from PriceWaterhouseCoopers jumped up and said, 'He (Beatty) took the wrong envelope!' and goes running onstage. Craziness breaks out. No one knows how Beatty got the best actress envelope instead of the best picture envelope." 

Emma Stone confirmed to reporters in the Oscars press room that she was in possession of the Best Actress envelope following her win. “I also was holding my Best Actress in a Leading Role card the whole time. I’m not sure what happened,” Emma said, according to PEOPLE. “I think everyone’s in a state of confusion still. Excitement but confusion. I think everyone is just so excited for Moonlight. It’s such an incredible film.” 

La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz got the spotlight when he announced that Moonlight was the rightful Best Picture winner during Sunday night's telecast. “I don’t know what happened. I don’t care to know what happened. There was a f*** up. I saw the envelope that said Moonlight and it needed to be corrected,” Jordan said moments after the snafu happened, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I’m glad it was them because I love those guys. We’ve spent a lot of time together over the last couple of months.”

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, who won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay earlier in the night with Tarell Alvin McCraney, didn't seem to have any hard feelings. “No explanation. Things just happen,” he said in the press room after winning the Best Picture Oscar, according to PEOPLE. “I will say, I saw two cards, and so things just happen. I wanted to see the card, to see the card, and Warren refused to show the card to anybody before he showed it to me. And so he did. He came upstairs and he walked over to me, and he showed the card. Everyone was asking, ‘Can I see the card?’ And he was like, ‘No, Barry Jenkins has to see the card, I need him to know.’ And I felt better about what had happened." 

Check out some more unforgettable Oscars moments, below.

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