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Oscars 2017 Best Picture blunder explained

Writer: Florey DM



"La La Land" producer Jordan Horowitz announcing "Moonlight" as the real Best Picture winner.

28 Feb – The world is still reeling from the big Oscars mix-up that caused quite a confusing scene at the prestigious awards ceremony yesterday.

By now, everyone, regardless whether they caught the 89th Academy Awards live or watched snippets of it afterwards, would be aware of the Best Picture blunder where "La La Land" was mistakenly announced as the winner before a correction was made and the top honour rightfully went to "Moonlight".

"This is not a joke," "La La Land" producer Jordan Horowitz said as he held up the card with the real winner's title, in the midst of the musical film's cast and crew acceptance speech.

Everyone has their own take on the issue – Warren Beatty pulled a Steve Harvey (remember the Miss Universe hullabaloo?), it was the stage manager's fault, it was just a setup, it was Kimmel's prank (Kimmel denied this, saying he would've inserted a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon if he were trolling the Oscars) and even going as far as pointing the finger at Leonardo DiCaprio (payback for Oscars taking forever to give him a Best Actor award).


1967 "Bonnie and Clyde" stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presenting
Best Picture at the Oscars (Photo source: TMZ | Getty Images)

Cast those speculations aside, looks like the fault doesn't lie with presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, or even with Leo, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has owned up to the mistake, calling it "human error".

"We sincerely apologise 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 firm read.

Responsible for the tabulation of the Oscar ballots, as well as for the 24 envelopes containing the name or titles of the winners, PwC takes pride in "leading the Oscars balloting process on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences", it stated on its website in celebration of its 83rd year of collaboration with the Oscars.

The "human" in question for the error is PwC associate Brian Cullinan, who, along with fellow associate Martha L. Ruiz, was responsible of handing out the envelopes to the presenters. Each of them has a suitcase that contains the envelopes and stands on either side of the stage so they can hand out the envelopes no matter which side the presenters enter from.


Envelopes such as this contain the names or titles of the Oscar winners (Photo source: NY Times).

"[Cullinan] feels very, very terrible and horrible. He is very upset about this mistake. And it is also my mistake, our mistake, and we all feel very bad," Tim Ryan, the U.S chairman of the accounting firm, told Variety after the event.

Cullinan reportedly gave the envelope for Best Actress (the category was announced by Leonardo DiCaprio right before Best Picture) to Beatty and Dunaway. Unaware of the mix-up, while giving away the Best Picture award, Beatty could be seen looking perplexed as he stared at the card inside the envelope, deciding whether to read it or not. Dunaway, no longer able to withhold her excitement, took a look at the card and read it aloud.

It was such a surreal moment even Emma Stone had trouble believing things at first when Beatty said he had the Best Actress card in his hand instead of Best Picture. She was adamant that she still held the Best Actress card in her hand. It was only later revealed that there are two copies of each envelope containing the winners' names (the card in Stone's hand is from Ruiz).

The fate of PwC and its good ties with the Oscars remains unclear at the moment. While now it's clear that the blunder wasn't deliberate, the awards ceremony might have trust issues with the accounting firm from now on.

(Photo source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Cinema Online, 28 February 2017



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