In what will inevitably go down as one of — no, the — craziest moment in Oscar history, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner for Best Picture at the Academy Awards late Sunday night. They called La La Land. That film’s team came up onstage and began making speeches. Then, in a moment of mayhem and confusion, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz told the world that there was a mistake. Moonlight was the real winner.
That much we know. But questions abound, even after Beatty stepped up to the microphone to insist he was given the wrong envelope, one for Best Actress that Emma Stone won moments before. Jimmy “The Fixer” Kimmel closed the show by saying, “I blame Steve Harvey for this.”
If the card read “Emma Stone,” how come neither Beatty nor Dunaway realized at the time that they had the wrong envelope? And why did Stone say during her post-event press room interview that she was in possession of her envelope while they announced Best Picture? Is someone lying? Were there two cards? And how did the presenter wind up with the wrong card?
We pieced together the puzzle in real time to attempt to explain what the heck happened.
12:09 a.m. ET: La La Land announced as Best Picture.
— CNN (@CNN) February 27, 2017
12:11 a.m. ET: Moonlight announced as actual Best Picture.
MOONLIGHT actually won
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) February 27, 2017
12:12 a.m. ET: Chaos reigns!
This is INSANE #Oscars
— jen yamato (@jenyamato) February 27, 2017
12:21 a.m. ET: Twitter points out that Warren Beatty double-checked the envelope (but made the announcement regardless).
— Hawkeye KSCS DJ (@HawkeyeOnAir) February 27, 2017
12:22 a.m. ET: Twist maestro M. Night Shyamalan claims credit for writing the end of the Oscars.
I wrote the ending of the academy awards 2017. @jimmykimmel we really got them!
— M. Night Shyamalan (@MNightShyamalan) February 27, 2017
12:24 a.m. ET: Closeups reveal Beatty did in fact have incorrect envelope.
— Ryan Lavender (@RealLavender) February 27, 2017
12:26 a.m. ET: Access Hollywood blames Leonardo DiCaprio.
— Access Hollywood (@accesshollywood) February 27, 2017
12:26 a.m. ET: Or maybe it was Matt Damon?
10 minutes earlier: Matt Damon hands the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty in an effort to ruin Jimmy Kimmel's awards show #Oscars
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) February 27, 2017
12:27 a.m. ET: Even The Academy’s official Twitter handle announces La La Land. The plot thickens.
— C. Molly Smith (@cmollysmith) February 27, 2017
12:36 a.m. ET: Barry Jenkins tweets proof of his Moonlight win.
12:41 a.m. ET: Emma Stone throws a curveball into this whole weird game.
“I was holding my Best Actress in a Leading role card the whole time…I’m not sure what happened.”—Emma Stone on THAT moment #Oscars
— Susan Cheng (@scheng_) February 27, 2017
12:46 a.m. ET: Maybe there was some confusion between DiCaprio and Beatty?
— Ev Williams (@ev) February 27, 2017
12:52 a.m. ET: Jenkins tells reporters that he saw two envelopes when he finally made his way to the stage. Insiders explain that there are in fact two envelopes for each category.
— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) February 27, 2017
So there you have it. No one was lying. There were two envelopes. (This was confirmed to Yahoo Movies by a source at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Academy’s longtime accounting firm, which is charged with tallying the votes and keeping the results under lock and key.) Beatty was accidentally given the extra Best Actress envelope, which confused him and Dunaway, but which they read anyway. When the correct Best Picture envelope was handed to Horowitz and the La La Land team, he opened it, discovered the mistake, then called the Moonlight crew to the stage.
As for why Beatty still let Dunaway announce La La Land, when he was clearly confused when he tore open the envelope and the card said, “Emma Stone?” We’ll let Jimmy Kimmel explain:
— Douglas Pucci (@SonOfTheBronx) February 27, 2017
Update (3:09 a.m. ET): The Academy’s ballot counters at PricewaterhouseCoopers have issued a statement about the mix-up: “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. 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.”
More to come, we’re sure.
Watch Barry Jenkins explain his side of the story: