‘Moonlight’ or ‘La La Land’?: The Shocking Mixup During the Best Picture Announcement

Steve Harvey, all is forgiven. The Academy Awards ended in dramatic fashion when screen legends Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly crowned La La Land the year’s Best Picture. Moments later though, it emerged that the actual winner was Moonlight, a dramatic reversal that played out in equally dramatic fashion.

Here’s how this Oscar mistake went down: After the montage of all the nominees, Beatty opened the envelope and appeared to be taking a deliberate pause before announcing the winner. “You’re impossible,” his Bonnie and Clyde co-star remarked, laughing. He then handed the envelope to Dunaway, who took a quick look at the card and read, La La Land. The team behind the musical — which had already won six Oscars, including Best Actress for Emma Stone and Best Director for Damien Chazelle — thronged the stage, and producer Jordan Horowitz was the first to speak, thanking the Academy, his wife and the cast and crew.

But as producer Marc Platt stepped up to the mike to take his turn, Oscar producers emerged from backstage and spoke to the assembled group. When the final producer, Fred Berger, took his turn, he offered up a few thank yous, before saying, “We lost, by the way.” At that point, Horowitz rushed back over and said, “There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture. This is not a joke.”

With the audience still clearly uncertain about what was happening, host Jimmy Kimmel took the stage to help clear things up. And Horowitz helped out, holding up the card with Moonlight‘s name printed on it, graciously saying, “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight,” as the La La Land team ceded the stage.

While the Moonlight group gathered, Beatty returned to the mic to explain what had happened. “I opened the envelope, and it said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land,” the actor/director said, suggesting that he had been handed the envelope that corresponded to the Best Actress category rather than Best Picture. “That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at you [the audience]. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

With the actual winner announced, the room erupted in cheers for Moonlight, and director Barry Jenkins seemed as wowed by what had transpired as the crowd. “Very clearly, even in my dreams this could not be true. But to hell with dreams! I’m done with it, because this is true.” He also took a moment to send his love to La La Land, before turning to one of his stars, Janelle Monáe, for a hug. “I’m still not sure this is real,” said Moonlight producer Adele Romanski, summing up the feelings of many in the audience.

So there you have it. Moonlight, not La La Land, is the Best Picture of 2016. And now we may have also solved another long-standing Oscar debate: whether or not Marisa Tomei genuinely won her Best Supporting Actress statue in 1993 for My Cousin Vinny. For years, rumors have circulated that presenter Jack Palance had his own Steve Harvey moment, reading the wrong name off the card. But the Academy has always maintained that if such a mistake was ever made, they would intervene. Tonight, we saw that in action.

Here’s the complete list of 2017 Oscar winners:


Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Actor in a Leading Role
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Actress in a Leading Role
Emma Stone, La La Land

Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Actress in a Supporting Role
Viola Davis, Fences

Original Screenplay
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Adapted Screenplay
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

La La Land

Documentary Feature
OJ: Made in America

Documentary Short
The White Helmets

Live-Action Short

Foreign-Language Film
The Salesman, Iran

Animated Feature Film

Animated Short Film

Original Score
La La Land

Original Song
“City of Stars,” La La Land

Production Design
La La Land

Visual Effects
The Jungle Book

Costume Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Makeup and Hairstyling
Suicide Squad

Film Editing
Hacksaw Ridge

Sound Editing
Sylvain Bellemare, Arrival

Sound Mixing
Hacksaw Ridge