What REALLY Happened During The Oscars Major "Moonlight" Mix-Up

by Stephanie Maida · February 27, 2017

'Twas the night of the Oscars and all through the house, people were gasping as the biggest f*ck up in Hollywood history was announced. By now, we all know what went down during the Best Picture category, when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway read off the wrong card. While the La La Land cast took to the stage and got started on their Thank You speeches, they were quickly alerted that Moonlight had actually gotten the award. It was awkward, confusing, and while it made for pretty quality memes, it nevertheless overshadowed the monumental win for such an important film.

Beatty took to the mic to explain that the original card he'd been given read "Emma Stone, La La Land," which makes sense since he appeared visibly confused and seemed to look inside the envelope for another paper before showing it to Dunaway to read aloud. However, even more drama ensued when Emma Stone told the press backstage that she had held onto her card the entire time, fueling conspiracy theories. So what really happened?

Well, in regards to Emma's statement, the accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the firm that's been in charge of tallying the Academy's votes for over 80 years, there are always two cards printed from every category. In an interview with MarketWatch ahead of the show, one of PwC's accountants explained:

From a security perspective, we double up everything. That’s why there’s two of us. We have two briefcases, that are identical, and we have two entire sets of winning envelopes. Martha carries one of those briefcases, I carry the other. We go to the show separately with police escorts. I used to think it was for our security, it’s really for the briefcase [laughs]. We take different routes to get there just because of the kinds of things that can happen in L.A. traffic. We want to make sure that no matter what happens, one of us gets there. We’ve never really had a problem with that.

While some people questioned Beatty's story, claiming that he hadn't gotten that new envelope which was displayed to the camera, PwC seem to be taking the blame, releasing an official statement that's just painful to read. 

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.

OOF. For the record, this is the first time the wrong winner was announced in Academy Award history. While we still don't know how or why Beatty wasn't given the correct envelope in the first place, we can probably guess that next year, the Oscars will be tallied up by some new accountants. 

[Photo via Getty]

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