La La Land was announced as the best film winner at the 2017 Oscar Awards on Sunday night – but then had to hand the award over to Moonlight after a mistake was noticed in what was the most dramatic moment in the history of the Academy Awards. In extraordinary scenes, the La La Land team were halfway through their victory speeches when it was noticed that the wrong film name had been read out by Warren Beatty and that Moonlight was actually the winner.
“There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you won best picture,” Jordan Horowitz, La La Land producer, announced to the gasps of a shocked crowd. He held up the card clearly showing the winner was Moonlight. Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, the partners at PriceWaterhouseCoopers who count the votes, establish the winners and place them in sealed envelopes before giving them to the awards presenters, are looking like the ones responsible for the error.
PWC have since released an apology, saying: “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.”
Playbacks from the ceremony show Cullinan, Ruiz and other behind-the-scenes Oscar Awards staff take to the stage to discuss the mix-up. Producer Fred Berger gamely continued with his speech before admitting defeat: “We lost, by the way”, as stars and crew of La La Land shuffled off the stage and handed their gold statuettes to a jubilant Moonlight team. Beatty said he had been given the wrong envelope to open. “I opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone, La La Land,” he said, adding he had not done it “to try to be funny”.