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Oscars goof-up: From mistake to making up, here’s all that has happened so far

The 89th Academy Awards were victim to one of the most embarrassing mistakes in the history of the awards on Monday. Here’s what happened since then.

hollywood Updated: Feb 28, 2017 18:41 IST
Soumya Srivastava
Soumya Srivastava
Hindustan Times
Oscars,Goof Up,Academy Awards
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway on stage with the wrong card in their hands.

A lot has happened since the dreaded Monday morning, which registered the biggest, most embarrassing thing to happen to the prestigious Academy Awards.

Reel-life Bonnie and Clyde, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, were appointed to present the most coveted award of the night, the Academy Award for Best Picture. However, they made an unprecedented goof-up and gave away the award to Damien Chazelle’s La La Land when the winner was actually Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight. And thus, an embarrassing error to haunt the Academy for the rest of forever, was born.

Writer and Director Barry Jenkins of Moonlight holds up the Best Picture Oscar in front of host Jimmy Kimmel (rear) as he stands with Producer Adele Romanski (R). ( Reuters )

More jokes have been made, memes have been shared, conspiracy theories birthed and blames slapped on several people in 24 hours than ever before.

Of course, the chaos would make it difficult for regular people to keep up with. Fret not, here is a holistic guide to all that went down on the night (Monday morning in India) and everything that has happened since. So strap in and prepare yourself for yet another journey through the cringe-fest that was the 89th Academy Awards.

The Happening

Faye Dunaway, left, and Warren Beatty present the award for best picture. ( AP )

It has been Oscar tradition to present the Best Picture award at the very end, right after the Best Actress in a Leading Role award is presented. Every year, last year’s Best Actor in a Leading Role gives away the award to that particular year’s best actress. On Monday, Leonardo DiCaprio gave it away to Emma Stone for La La Land.

Best Actress winner Emma Stone is congratulated by Leonardo DiCaprio as she accepts her award for La La Land. ( Reuters )

After that was done and over, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were called up on stage to give away the Best Picture award. When Beatty opened the envelope, he took his sweet time and took a second and a third look at the winner’s name. At that moment, it looked as if he was toying with people’s patience and delaying calling out the name. He showed the card to Dunaway who read the words ‘La La Land’ on it and said the name of the film out loud.

Jordan Horowitz, foreground center, and the cast of La La Land mistakenly accept the award for best picture at the Oscars. ( AP )

The Dolby Theatre was filled with cheer and applause and the crew of the ‘winning’ movie stormed the stage. They started giving out speeches and thanking their families. But soon, a wave of confusion ran through the winning party.

Emma Stone and others from La La Land crew realising the mistake that has been made.

Jordan Horowitz, producer of La La Land, took the mic and told everyone present that it was Moonlight that had actually won the award. He called the bewildered crew from Moonlight on stage, snatched the real Best Picture card from Beatty’s hand and showed it to the cameras.

Jordan Horowitz shows the envelope, revealing Moonlight as the true winner of Best Picture. ( Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP )

The Clarifications

Warren Beatty holds the award envelope with ‘Best Actress In A Leading Role’ clearly written on it. ( REUTERS )

Warren Beatty realised it was the right time to reveal to the confused audience what actually has happened. Beatty said he was given the Best Actress in a Leading Role envelope instead of Best Picture.

He explained that he had opened the envelope and he was confused when it read ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ He had shown it to Faye Dunaway briefly, as though he wanted her to read it, which she did, apparently assuming the Emma Stone part was off but the “La La Land” part correct.

More Clarifications Backstage

Warren Beatty (L) and Mahershala Ali backstage. ( AFP )

“It’s one of the strangest things that’s ever happened to me,” Beatty said backstage. “Thank God there were two of us up there,” Dunaway responded.

Dunaway then asked Beatty, “Who else should I tell?”

“Everybody,” he said.

At that point, a security guard tried to take the real envelope and Beatty said, “Security is not getting this. I’m giving it to (Moonlight director) Barry Jenkins at a later time.” Beatty also refused to show it to anyone else.

The Make -All-The-Memes Phase

The fiasco, reminded host Jimmy Kimmel (and almost everyone who watched the ceremony) of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant where host Steve Harvey wrongly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the winner while the actual winner was Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach from the Philippines. Kimmel even joked on stage that he ‘blamed Steve Harvey for this’.

The internet went into an instant overdrive and started churning out thousands of memes and jokes by the second. Not just random Twitter users but even the official handle of Miss Universe and celebrities did not miss out on the golden opportunity.

Steve Harvey cashed in on the gaffe too and offered his support to Beatty.

The Conspiracy Theories

The goof-up, which has now been christened ‘Envelopegate’ by the internet, also inspired quite a few conspiracy theories. Most people argued that it was all an elaborate prank by Kimmel.

Some thought Leonardo DiCaprio was to blame. People reasoned that maybe Leo gave the Best Actress award card to Beatty on his way out which led to all the trouble.

They said it was Leo’s way of getting back at the Academy for not giving him his award sooner.

Some even conspired that the Academy did this to up their ratings. However, this year’s ceremony was the least watched in US since 2006.

Emma Stone Adds Fuel To Fire

After the ceremony, Emma Stone was asked to react on the goof-up by the international press. She maintained that Moonlight is ‘one of the best films of all time’ and was happy that it won. However, she also said that she was carrying her own card, given to her by Leonardo DiCaprio, the entire time. With this, she shut down the rumours that DiCaprio gave her card to Beatty on his way out.

Time To Say Sorry

Representatives from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Martha L. Ruiz, Brian Cullinan with the winners’ name in the briefcases. ( AFP )

PricewaterhouseCooper, the accounting firm responsible for counting votes and keeping the winners’ names secure then issued an apology. “The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and, when discovered, was immediately corrected,” it said in a statement. “We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.”

PwC’s representatives were Brian Cullinan, a partner at the firm - and, according to his bio on the company’s website, a Matt Damon lookalike - and Martha Ruiz, the second woman to serve as a PwC Oscars tabulator.

Cullinan is the lead partner for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, including the annual balloting for the Oscars ceremony. He has been part of the balloting team since 2014.

In a promotional video on the company’s website ahead of the show, Cullinan said he and Ruiz are the only two who knew who the winners were on the night of the awards.

“There are 24 categories. We have the winners in sealed envelopes that we hold and maintain throughout the evening and hand those to the presenters before they walk out on stage,” he said.

Both Cullinan and Ruiz would have had a briefcase on either side of the auditorium to hand out the envelope for the category to be announced.

One Tweet To Ruin It All

PwC later identified that Cullinan was responsible for the mix-up. “PwC Partner Brian Cullinan mistakenly handed the back-up envelope for Actress in a Leading Role instead of the envelope for Best Picture. Once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough by Mr. Cullinan or his partner,” a statement from the company said.

The Wall Street Journal and celebrity website on Monday reported that Cullinan had posted a backstage photo of Emma Stone on Twitter minutes before the mix-up.

The photo, from Cullinan’s Twitter account, was later deleted but was still viewable on Monday on a cached archive of the page. Cullinan could not immediately be reached for comment.

Academy Apologises

“We deeply regret the mistakes that were made during the presentation of the Best Picture category during last night’s Oscar ceremony,” the Academy said in a statement on Monday. “We apologize to the entire cast and crew of La La Land and Moonlight whose experience was profoundly altered by this error.”

The Academy also apologised to presenters Beatty and Dunaway and to fans watching around the world.

Trump Ties An Ugly Little Bow To It All

US President Donald Trump, who was at the centre of ridicule through the ceremony, managed to find a silver lining for himself.

Host Jimmy Kimmel tweets ‘U up?’ to President Donald Trump during the ceremony. ( Reuters )

“I think they were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end. It was a little sad. It took away from the glamour of the Oscars. It didn’t feel like a very glamorous evening. I’ve been to the Oscars. There was something very special missing, and then to end that way was sad,” he told Breitbart.

With inputs from agencies

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First Published: Feb 28, 2017 17:24 IST