The 89th Academy Awards just heralded in the the mystery of the year: how did La La Land get accidentally announced as Best Picture? As we slowly recover from those final, shocking moments of the Oscars tonight, let’s break down what we know about the epic upset.
How it started
Bonnie and Clyde‘s iconic costars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the nominees, but something was off from the moment Beatty opened the card to announce the winner. He stared at the card, hesitated and checked to see if there was another card in the envelope. There wasn’t. He paused a few times before making an announcement, and even looked for help in the wings, before turning to Dunaway, who announced, “La La Land.” Watch the moment below for yourself.
Warren Beatty really a savage if he knew it was the wrong card and was just like "Here, Faye Dunaway" pic.twitter.com/TzVhkgcb0b
— Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) February 27, 2017
They had the wrong card, the one for Actress in a Leading Role.
If you listen closely, you can hear Beatty whisper “it says Emma Stone” to Dunaway after she announces La La Land as the Best Picture Winner. After the real winner is revealed, the actor returned to the mic to clarify the mix-up. “I opened the envelope, and it said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land,'” he explained, adding: “That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 27, 2017
Related article: 18 Hilarious Moments That Actually Happened At The Oscars 2017
If you look at the close-ups, it’s true that the actor was given the wrong card when he stepped on stage. It indeed read “Actress in a Leading Role”
— Kazi Mamun (@kazi_mamun) February 27, 2017
Zoomed-in photo of the envelope Warren Beatty was carrying onstage — it was NOT the envelope for best picture. pic.twitter.com/VThHQ8JnT8
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) February 27, 2017
A stagehand actually realized Beatty had the wrong card after he had stepped on stage.
“Oh … Oh my god, he got the wrong envelope,” someone from backstage reportedly said, after the presenters had already left the wings for the mic, according to the LA Times.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) February 27, 2017
— Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) February 27, 2017
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Emma Stone, however, said she was holding onto her Best Actress card the whole time.
Stone told Entertainment Weekly: “I also was holding my Best Actress in a Leading Role card the entire time. So whatever story… I don’t mean to start stuff, but whatever story that was, I had that card. So I’m not sure that happened.
— The Mold Standard (@TheMoldStandard) February 27, 2017
Emma Stone backstage said SHE HAD HER CARD THE WHOLE TIME!!! pic.twitter.com/WecMyquaGp
— Marc (@MarcSnetiker) February 27, 2017
Leonardo DiCaprio handed the card with Emma Stone's name on it to her as they came offstage—and she says she never let go of it: pic.twitter.com/MJuN4YeO13
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) February 27, 2017
But that’s because there are two official, identical copies of the winning cards.
According to a story published by Slate in 2014, there are two separate sets of the winning cards. This is how they are created:
“The head accountants then stuff two complete sets of presenter cards into envelopes, and place them into identical briefcases. (The stationers prepare presenter cards for every nominee, just as both teams in a World Series have championship hats and t-shirts made in advance of the game. The loser’s cards are destroyed.) The briefcases remain in a vault until the day of the show. The two accountants each carry one briefcase to the theater, traveling in separate cars. The last thing presenters do before striding into the spotlight is receive the envelope from a PwC accountant, who is standing just offstage.”
Related article: These Are All The Winners Of The Oscars 2017
But what about THAT tweet from The Academy’s official account?
In addition to announcing the wrong winner in the theater, why did The Academy also tweet out that La La Land won Best Picture? Blank graphic templates are made so that someone can input the winner as soon as it’s announced, before tweeting it out, a historian from the Academy explained to BAZAAR.com’s Culture Editor, Julie Kosin.
— Perez (@ThePerezHilton) February 27, 2017
The tweet was then deleted and updated with the correct winner by the end of the night.
And the Oscar goes to… pic.twitter.com/i846CnSDAi
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 27, 2017
From: Harper’s BAZAAR US