By Hayden Wright
La La Land tied the record for most Oscar nominations for a single film (14) but the night was far from a clean sweep—in fact, it got very messy.
The Los Angeles-set musical walked away with awards for Best Actress, Best Director and Best Original Song for “City of Stars,” which John Legend performed in a medley during the telecast. It also picked up honors for Best Production Design, Cinematography and Original Score.
The musical lost Best Editing and two Sound categories to Hacksaw Ridge, while Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them triumphed in the Best Costume Design race. La La Land‘s Ryan Gosling lost to Casey Affleck, whose film Manchester by the Sea also beat the musical for Best Original Screenplay. Those predicting a La La Land sweep discovered that Oscar felt like sharing the love this year.
For the night’s biggest prize, there was too much love to go around. Moonlight snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when the La La Land producers discovered that Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway had presented the award in error. In a gracious moment for the Hollywood history books, producer Jordan Horowitz announced: “No, there’s a mistake, Moonlight, you won Best Picture.”
Beatty had an opportunity to clarify the mistake: He received a Best Actress envelope and the ensuing confusion led Dunaway to read the wrong movie. Reports suggest that there are two briefcases containing all 24 envelopes, so the duplicate was handed to him in error. Moonlight writer-director Barry Jenkins took to the stage and accepted this award while the audience (and millions of viewers worldwide) watched in stunned disbelief.
“Very clearly, even in my dreams this could not be true, but to hell with dreams, I’m done with it, ‘cause this is true,” he said.
Backstage, stars and reporters tried to piece together what happened. In the press room, a dimly accusatory Emma Stone insisted that she kept her Best Actress envelope with her through the botched Best Picture announcement. Accounting firm PwC issued this statement taking responsible for the debacle:
“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.”
Watch the shocking moment here: