Fame and celebrity

Oscars auditors PwC apologise for Moonlight/La La Land best picture mix-up

Tinseltown legends Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 6:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2017, 8:01am

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm responsible for tabulating Oscar ballots, apologised for an “error” in the announcement of the best picture award, admitting Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope.

The embarrassing mix-up saw the Oscar incorrectly given to musical La La Land before the actual winner, coming-of-age drama Moonlight, was finally handed the prize.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

“The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and, when discovered, was immediately corrected,” it added.

“We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.”

Watch: “Moonlight’ wins best picture at botched Academy Awards

The mistake made for a chaotic end to the film industry’s biggest night, on which La La Land went home with six awards including best director, actress, score and song, to three for Moonlight.

Until the final minute, the film industry’s biggest night had run smoothly, and was marked by plenty of political statements, mainly jabs at US President Donald Trump, and light-hearted jokes from host Jimmy Kimmel.

But the epic stumble on the final award was the nightmare Hollywood ending no one wanted to see.

Tinseltown legends Beatty and Dunaway, stars of 1967 crime classic Bonnie and Clyde, were meant to give the best picture Oscar to Barry Jenkins’s film, but she mistakenly called it for Damien Chazelle’s musical.

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

Scenes of confusion and embarrassment followed after the La La Land crew - already on stage and delivering speeches - suddenly realised the mistake and announced themselves that Moonlight had actually won, prompting Beatty to mumble apologies.

The Oscar-winning veteran actor and director, 79, said he’d been given the wrong envelope - the one containing the card announcing La La Land star Emma Stone’s best actress win.

Stone said backstage she had been hanging on to her winning envelope the whole time, although slowed-down footage of the commotion appeared to corroborate Beatty’s explanation.

Several reports suggested that two sets of envelopes are typically on site during the ceremony - one on either side of the stage.

“This was confusing, obviously, so... we thought he was being coy and cute and milking it but, in reality, he was perplexed by why her name was on it,” host Jimmy Kimmel told ABC after the show.

“I noticed the commotion and thought something was strange. And then I was speechless by the result,” Jenkins, who won earlier for best adapted screenplay, said backstage.

“I’ve watched the Academy Awards before and have and have never seen that happen before.”

Starring Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali - who bagged the first of the movie’s three Oscars - Moonlight tells the life story of a young African-American struggling to find his place as he grows up poor in Miami. Ali was the first Muslim film star to pick up a golden statuette.

The film has won plaudits as a vital portrait of contemporary African-American life and is praised in equal measure as a moving meditation on identity, family, friendship and love.

It beat seven other films besides La La Land - including alien thriller Arrival and family dramas Manchester by the Sea and Fences - for best picture honours.

Elsewhere, Manchester by the Sea star Casey Affleck was named best actor, winning his first Oscar despite 2010 sexual harassment allegations that resurfaced during awards season. Affleck denied the allegations which were settled out of court.

Earlier in the show, US President Donald Trump had been the butt of numerous jokes, capping an awards season marked by fiery protests by celebrities at his policies.

Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel fired off political zingers and even tweeted at the Republican president, getting no immediate response.

Several celebrities wore blue ribbons on Sunday in support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) advocacy group that worked to get Trump’s bid to ban travellers from seven majority Muslim nations blocked in US courts. But for the most part, speeches at the ceremony were mild or made general pleas for tolerance rather than directly attacking Trump.

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi was an exception. His drama The Salesman was named best foreign language film but Farhadi, boycotted Sunday’s ceremony because of the Trump’s travel ban.

In a speech delivered on his behalf by Iranian-American space expert Anousheh Ansari, Farhadi said his absence was due to “an inhumane law that bans entry into the US... Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war.”

Additional reporting by Reuters