The Academy Releases Statement Addressing 89th Oscars Best Picture Announcement Snafu
Photo Credit: "Moonlight"
Awards , Film

The Academy Releases Statement Addressing 89th Oscars Best Picture Announcement Snafu

Barry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney accept the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.(Photo by AP)
Barry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney accept the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay (AP)

UPDATE (12 hours later): The Academy has now released its own statement addressing the Best Picture Oscar announcement snafu that occurred during the closing minutes of Sunday night’s festivities. This comes after PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) , the accounting firm responsible for the Oscar ballots and envelopes announcing the winners, released its own statement. Here’s what The Academy has to say:

We deeply regret the mistakes that were made during the presentation of the Best Picture category during last night’s Oscar ceremony. We apologize to the entire cast and crew of La La Land and Moonlight whose experience was profoundly altered by this error. We salute the tremendous grace they displayed under the circumstances. To all involved — including our presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the filmmakers, and our fans watching worldwide — we apologize. For the last 83 years, the Academy has entrusted PwC to handle the critical tabulation process, including the accurate delivery of results. PwC has taken full responsibility for the breaches of established protocols that took place during the ceremony. We have spent last night and today investigating the circumstances, and will determine what actions are appropriate going forward. We are unwaveringly committed to upholding the integrity of the Oscars and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Whether any heads will roll is unlikely; this seemed like a genuine mistake to me and nothing intentional, nor in any way a publicity stunt as some have suggested. As was previously reported, this is something that’s never happened before in the history of the Oscars. The simplest way to correct a one-time error like this is to ensure that it doesn’t happen again; at least not for another 89 years.

I should note that ABC’s broadcast of the Oscars attracted an average audience of 32.9 million Total Viewers, which was just above 2008’s record low of 32.4 million, according to Nielsen. Last year’s telecast drew 34.4 million viewers. So despite a definite bump up in terms of the diversity among this year’s nominees (compared to last year), an expected rise in viewership historically associated with an increase in diversity, didn’t follow.

But the 2017 Oscars ceremony still qualifies as TV’s No. 1 entertainment telecast in the last year, dominating other key awards shows, outdrawing the 2017 Golden Globe Awards by 12.9 million viewers and the 2017 Grammy Awards by 6.8 million viewers.

During his show this evening, host of the 89th Oscars, Jimmy Kimmel, shared the below “inside story” of what happened during those chaotic final moments of the ceremony on Sunday night:

Below you’ll find the statement from PricewaterhouseCoopers, followed by my initial write-up immediately following Sunday night’s ceremony.


UPDATE (the morning after): PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm responsible for the tabulation of the Oscar ballots and the envelopes announcing the winners, released a statement early Monday morning addressing the incredible, unprecedented blunder that resulted in the wrong film – “La La Land” – being announced as best picture, instead of the actual winner, “Moonlight.” Their brief statement, released by The Academy, follows:

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.

—PwC

It’s unfortunate that the “Moonlight” cast and crew were robbed of the initial thrill that comes with hearing your work announced as winner the first time, and so had to deliver acceptance speeches amid chaos and confusion as a backdrop on the stage. It wasn’t quite the moment it could’ve been for all those involved if this error didn’t happen, with the mechanics of the screw-up now seemingly dominating the news.

And even though I’m no fan of “La La Land,” I imagine for the film’s cast and crew, the moment may have been a heart-breaking, even embarrassing one to be suddenly and so publicly stripped of something you thought you’d won.

All that said, “Moonlight” won, and ultimately that’s what matters.

My post from last night, immediately after the ceremony ended, follows below.


During what was the most bizarre sequence of the night’s celebration, we eventually learned that “Moonlight” won the Best Picture Academy Award, and not the film that presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced – “La La Land.”

What exactly happened (see the video below) is still being sorted out by the Academy as I type this, but once it’s all cleared up and made public, we’ll share all the gory details here. One reporter for ABC did say that this was an unprecedented occurrence; that never in the entire history of the Oscars has this kind of screw up happened.

But yes, “Moonlight” won the top award of the night, along with Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. With its Best Picture win, it becomes only the 2nd film in Oscar history with a black starring cast to win Best Picture; prior to its win, Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” picked up the award in 2013.

It’s also the first LGBTQ film to win Best Picture.

It’s quite a significant achievement that a coming-of-age film centered around the life of a gay black male from an impoverished locale, that cost a paltry $1.5 million (according to the filmmaker and producer), to have traveled this far, winning the highest of all film industry honors.

Worth noting is that both films (“Moonlight” and “12 Years”) were made possible in part by Brad Pitt’s Plan B production shingle.

Other winners of note, given this blog’s specific interests, include:

— In the Best Documentary Feature category, “O.J.: Made in America” (directed by Ezra Edelman) won the Oscar. This one was a surprise, as I believe most were expecting either “13th” or even “I Am Not Your Negro” to win.

— In the Best Supporting Actress category, Viola Davis won for “Fences.” No surprise at all; she was the front-runner almost from the start.

— For Best Supporting Actor, Mahershala Ali won, as expected; he’s been the favorite. It’s his first Oscar nomination and win.

— And finally “Moonlight” picked up the trophy for Best Adapted Screenplay; also expected. At least, that was my prediction.

“Moonlight,” which was nominated in 8 different categories, including all big ones, won 3 of them!

There’s more to be said about the night of festivities, which will come in a later post. For now, above are your winners!

Share you thoughts and reactions to the ceremony in the comment section. Immediately below is footage (both videos) of the final few minutes of the show when the Best Picture mix-up happened, for those who missed it.

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