The 2017 Academy Awards will now forever be remembered for one thing; the massive blunder that resulted in the wrong movie being awarded Best Picture. With the world watching, Faye Dunaway declared that La La Land had won the category, and cast and crew took the stage to accept the award. However, problems became apparent during the acceptance speech from producer Mark Platt, and as the gaffe became clear, Platt stopped his speech and his fellow La La Land producer, Jordan Horowitz, announced that the category had actually been won by Moonlight.
As it turns out, presenter Warren Beatty had been given a Best Actress envelope in error, which is why, in footage from the event, he appears to look for another card in the envelope and then check with Dunaway. Emma Stone, who won Best Actress, had kept her card and envelope, but since there is always a duplicate set of envelopes kept backstage ‘just in case,’ it appears that somehow, it was the duplicate that was handed to Beatty instead of the Best Picture envelope.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers, who have been in charge of counting the Academy votes for the last 83 years, has now issued an apology (via The Guardian) for the mistake, which at best confused those watching, and at worst seemed like the most cruel twist of fate for those on stage believing they had won the Best Picture Oscar, only to have it snatched away a moment later.
“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 statement says, before promising a full investigation into how the error occurred.
PwC also say they will focus on ensuring a fail-safe system for the future, though presumably the system they were using was considered pretty watertight. PwC employees wait in the wings during the show, ready to hand the relevant envelopes to each presenter, but one mishap in 89 Academy Award ceremonies is hardly a big deal. Sadly, though the incident was handled with dignity from all concerned, it seems likely that some people will pay a heavy price for the gaffe.
Under the current system, the votes are counted by a small team before being run through a computer system and then checked again. PwC supervisors Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz place the results into two sets of envelopes, which are then kept in a safe until the day of the Awards. Cullinan and Ruiz travel to the event separately, under security protection, each with a full set of envelopes and results. It surely seems like a system where nothing could go wrong, but unfortunately on this occasion, something did. There is margin for human error in all things, and it seems pretty likely that this is the case now. How unfortunate that it had to happen during the biggest and final award of the night.
Source: The Guardian