‘Moonlight’ Wins Best Picture Oscar After Embarrasing On-Stage Flub

February 27, 2017 | Updated: 4:31 a.m., February 27, 2017

It’s an Oscar moment that will go down in history.

Not only did “Moonlight” pull out a surprise win over “La La Land” for best picture, but their big moment came after presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway accidentally announced the wrong winner.

They initially announced “La La Land” as best picture.

The cast and producers from “La La Land” had already taken the stage and began their acceptance speeches when they learned “Moonlight was the actual winner.

Host Jimmy Kimmel took the stage to explain the mistake as the crew from “La La Land” exited and the news sunk in for the “Moonlight” cast and producers.

“Guys, this is very unfortunate what happened,” Kimmel said. “I would love to see you get an Oscar anyway. Why don’t we just give out a whole bunch of them?”


Beatty then took the mic to explain “La La Land” was mistakenly announced because he and Dunaway received an envelope that had Emma Stone’s name on the card.

Backstage, Stone claimed she had the card that announced her as best actress win “the entire time.”

“I don’t mean to start stuff,” she said. “But whatever story that was … I had that card. I’m not sure what happened.”


Stone added that she was “so excited” for “Moonlight.”

“I think it’s one of the best films of all time,” she said.

Jenkins thanked the cast and producers from “La La Land” for being “gracious” and “generous.”

“My love to ‘La La Land,'” he said.

“La La Land” had been an early favorite to win in the category, but the shift in tides of award season in recent weeks had led some to predict “Moonlight” could pull an upset.


The coming-of-age drama took home two other awards, including one for Mahershala Ali.

Kimmel closed out the night saying, “I blame myself for this… I knew I would screw this show up, I really did.”


A timeline of a historic Oscars blunder

Director Barry Jenkins said he was “speechless” after his movie “Moonlight” was announced as the winner of best picture on Sunday night, following an unprecedented moment in Oscars history. And he wasn’t the only one.


“Is that the craziest Oscar moment of all time?” Emma Stone asked backstage. “We made history tonight.”

But what exactly happened that led to that now-infamous moment where “La La Land” was mistakenly announced as best picture at the Academy Awards?

Here’s how it all went down:

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty present

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty — on hand to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Bonnie and Clyde” — presented the nominees for best picture. On stage, Beatty was given the task of opening the envelop that was supposed to contain the winner. (Later, Beatty would say it contained the name of a winner, but not the winner.)


On stage, Beatty looked at the card and said, “And the Academy Award…”

The crowd laughed, assuming he was building suspense.

He looked down at the card again and then looked at Dunaway.

“…for best picture…”

Dunaway playfully told Beatty, “You’re impossible.” She assumed he was joking around.


“Come on,” she prompted him.

He showed her the card, and Dunaway read it aloud.

“‘La La Land,'” she said.

‘La La Land’ has a lovely night…briefly

“La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz was the first to speak. Producer Marc Platt followed.


As Platt spoke, viewers at home saw someone run across the stage behind him.

From the crowd, “Moonlight” actor Mahershala Ali, a winner for best supporting actress, noticed the activity.

“When I did see security or people coming out on stage, and their moment was being disrupted in some way, I got really worried,” he told press backstage.

Jenkins wasn’t surprised by the initial result.

“I think all the movies that were nominated were worthy so I took the result,” he said backstage. “I applauded like everyone else.”

On stage, “La La Land” producers were approached by a man wearing a headset and holding an envelope.

Platt called producer Fred Berger to the mic next. As Berger began speaking, Beatty started heading to the mic, but Berger beat him to the announcement.

“We lost, by the way, but, you know,” he said.

Horowitz clarified: “I’m sorry, there’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture.”

“This is not a joke,” he said, gesturing to the “Moonlight” cast and producers and inviting them to stage.

Platt added: “This is not a joke. They read the wrong thing.”

Horowitz showed the envelope to the crowd.

“I wanted to express to them that they had won,” he said later.

‘Moonlight’ wins

Jimmy Kimmel then hopped on stage and attempted to clear the air.

“I think you all should just keep it anyway,” he joked.

Off stage, the “Moonlight” crew celebrated. Director Barry Jenkins covered his mouth in shock.

“It threw me more than a bit,” Ali said. “I didn’t want to go up there and take anything from somebody. It’s very hard to feel joy in a moment like that.”

As the “Moonlight” cast and creators headed to the stage, Kimmel said, “This is very unfortunate what happened.”

“Personally, I blame Steve Harvey for this,” Kimmel said, referring to the TV host’s infamous Miss Universe gaffe.

“I’m going to be very proud to hand this to my friends from ‘Moonlight,'” Horowitz interjected.

Beatty attempted to explain himself further.

“I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope and it said, ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at [the audience]. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

Stone later told press she was confused because she had the card that said her name with her “the entire time.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) typically create two complete sets of winners’ envelopes. So it is possible Stone had her envelope and another was handed to Beatty.

“During the ceremony, two accountants stand on opposite sides of the stage throughout the ceremony, alternating between each other in the handing out of envelopes, depending on which side of the stage the presenters enter from,” according to THR.

Behind Beatty, the two casts traded spots.

“This is ‘Moonlight,’ the best picture,” Beatty said.

Matt Damon whistled from the crowd.

Taraji P. Henson was shown with her mouth wide open in the crowd.

“Very clearly, even in my dreams this could not be true,” Jenkins said. “But to hell with dreams. I’m done with it because this is true.”

Jenkins also offered a thanks to the “La La Land” team.

“I have to say, and it is true, it’s not fake: We’ve been on the road with these guys for so long. And that was so gracious and so generous of them,” he said. “My love to ‘La La Land.'”

“Moonlight” producer Adele Romanski summed up: “Thank you to the Academy. I don’t know what to say. I’m still not sure this is real.”

Romanski said she hoped the movie’s win was “inspiring to people, little black boys and brown girls, and other folks watching at home who feel marginalized.”

She hoped they took “some inspiration from seeing this beautiful group of artists… standing up here on this stage accepting this top honor.”

The aftermath

Emma Stone was the first directly involved in the viral moment to address the press backstage.

“I don’t even know what to say,” she said. “I think it’s an incredible outcome, but very — a very strange happening for Oscar history.”

She also expressed her love for “Moonlight.”

“God, I love ‘Moonlight’ so much. I was so excited for ‘Moonlight,” she said.

Jenkins, meanwhile, said he was given no official explanation for what happened.

“I will say, I saw two cards,” he said. “I wanted to see the card…and [Beatty] refused to show the card to anybody before he showed it to me. And so he did. He came up stairs and he walked over to me he showed the card….and I felt better about what happened.”

Jenkins thanked the “La La Land” team for being “so gracious” in the moment.

“I can’t imagine being in their position and having to do that,” he said. “We spent a lot of time together in the last six months and I can’t imagine being in their position and having to do that. It’s wild.”

He added: “I wasn’t speechless because we won. I was speechless because it was so gracious for them to do that.”

PwC said in a statement: “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,” the company said. “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,” the statement added.”



Oscars ‘La La Land’ flub joins list of embarrassing award show errors

Miss Universe 2015

Possibly the most embarrassing moment in a Miss Universe competition came in 2015.

That year, host Steve Harvey handed the winning crown to Colombia’s Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo live on stage — except, she wasn’t the winner.

After realizing his mistake, Harvey apologized and announced the real winner: Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach from the Philippines.

The mix-up was painfully awkward to watch — Wurtzbach covered her mouth in shock and then walked to the front of the stage, waiting for Gutierrez to hand her the crown.

After the Oscars flub, Miss Universe tweeted the Academy Awards with an offer of help — “Have your people call our people – we know what to do.”


Golden Globes 2017

At this year’s Golden Globes pre-show, host Jenna Bush Hager asked producer and composer Pharrell Williams how he planned to celebrate the night after being nominated for “Hidden Fences.”

The only problem was Pharrell was nominated for the best original score for “Hidden Figures.”

Michael Keaton also confused the two movies — which feature black leads — when presenting best supporting actress Octavia Spencer.


BET Awards 2011

In 2011, a BET — Black Entertainment Television — viewer selected to read the award accidentally presented the Viewer’s Choice Award to artist Chris Brown, due to a teleprompter error.

Moments later, she then announced Rihanna was the winner — an especially awkward mistake given Rihanna’s past assault allegations against Brown.


NRJ Awards 2009

At the 2009 NRJ Awards in Cannes, American pop sensation Katy Perry picked up a trophy for the Best International Single that was meant for Rihanna.

Host Nikos Aliagas waited until the end of the show to admit the mistake.

In 2013, Perry had another awkward encounter at the NRJ awards when the wrong mix was played to her hit Roar.