Tonight we witnessed one of the most insane Oscars moment of all time. They. Read. Out. The. Wrong. Best. Picture. Winner. THE GREATEST AWARD SHOW SIN OF ALL. And it was perpetrated by two beloved Hollywood legends, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway! Here’s how it all went down.
After sweeping six of its 14 Oscar categories (including Director and Best Actress), La La Land seemed on track to take the big prize of the night, Best Picture. Sure enough, when the time came to announce the victor, Warren Beatty handed off the honour to Dunaway, who pronounced La La Land the Best Picture winner.
The whole La La Land crew rushed the stage, including Chezelle and Stone, plus John Legend and Ryan Gosling, along with numerous crew members. Producer Jordan Horowitz gave an impassioned acceptance speech. Mostly unnoticed by the audience and viewers was the small knot of Oscar show producers gathering behind them, examining the envelope and then frantically conferring among themselves and the La La Land peeps. Producer Fred Berger was mid-speech, but paused when he overheard them stating that Faye Dunaway had announced the wrong film.
He then turned back to the mic, saying, “We lost, by the way. But…y’know.” At this point, the audience still hadn’t figured out what was happening. Berger shrugged, then wandered off, with faux Oscar in hand. Horowitz then reached over for the mic, and bellowed, “There was a mistake! Moonlight—you guys won Best Picture.”
The stunned crowd thought this was an act of charity, with a producer graciously turning over the award to their competitor. But no—”This is not a joke,” Horowitz said. “Come up here.” Then La La Land producer Marc Platt chimed in: “This is not a joke. I’m afraid they read the wrong thing.” Cut to everyone losing their minds. Then Horowitz again: “This is not a joke: Moonlight has won Best Picture.” Then Horowitz violently ripped the presenter card out of Beatty’s hand and thrust it in front of the camera. “Moonlight!” he proclaimed. “Best Picture!” And then the camera did the chicest slow zoom onto the presenter card in what is surely will become the most notorious live television move of the past decade (give this cameraperson a promotion immediately).
Cut to the audience going buck wild.
Moonlight director Barry Jenkins staggered to the stage, clasping his hand to his mouth.
Jimmy Kimmel: “This is very unfortunate, what happened. I blame Steve Harvey for this.” Then, to Berger: “I’d like to see you get an Oscar anyway. I wish we could give out a whole bunch of ’em!” Horowitz then said: “I’m gonna be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight.”
Then, Beatty got in the mix. (The camera cut to Charlize Theron, BTW, looking none too pleased with the whole boondoggle.) He then spent 45 seconds explaining how the envelope he got, he claims, was the one decreeing Emma Stone the winner for La La Land, hence why he handed it off to Dunaway to confirm—who then just read out La La Land as the Best Picture winner.
(There’s already conspiracy theories on the Internet that Leonardo DiCaprio somehow pocketed Emma’s winner card, which could have messed up the order, but it seems likelier there was simply a duplicate winner card in error.)
The camera followed the Moonlight crew, who staggered to the stage in complete shock, with star Trevante Rhodes and producer Dede Gardner open-mouthed in surprise. Once on stage, director Barry Jenkins finally spoke about his big, big win: “Very clearly, even in my dreams, this could not be true. To hell with dreams, I’m done with it, ’cause this is true. Oh, my goodness.”
Oh, my goodness indeed. It may have been one hell of a gaffe—but it will be remembered for all time.
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