The 2017 Academy Awards ceremony was mostly uneventful and typical, until it was time to announce Best Picture. Due to an unfortunate envelope mixup that saw presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway read off a duplicate Best Actress card, Damien Chazelle's musical La La Land was proclaimed the winner, instead of the actual Best Picture, Barry Jenkins' Moonlight. The snafu quickly became the most infamous flub in Oscars history, and Pricewaterhouse Cooper - the accounting firm that tabulates Oscar votes - quickly issued an apology and said they would investigate the situation.
Cinephiles were curious to see how the Academy would deal with an unprecedented scenario, and the organization seems to have moved quite swiftly as they try to ensure this embarrassing mistake will never happen again. The two accountants responsible for what happened are done working with the Oscars.
The news comes courtesy of Jeff Sneider, who tweeted the following today:
BREAKING: Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs says the 2 accountants responsible for screwing up Best Picture won't work the Oscars again.
— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) March 1, 2017
Many people probably won't be surprised by this development, which is possibly just the first step in determining the right solution. It's true this was merely a case of human error (and nothing more nefarious), but removing the guilty accountants from future Oscars broadcasts reads as a necessary decision. It will be interesting to see what other steps the Academy takes. Some have pointed to the new envelope designs, which were allegedly more difficult to read than previous years, so perhaps some alterations could be made there. A simple fix could be using a single set of envelopes (as opposed to having one for stage right and stage left), which would obviously eliminate the slightest chance of a repeat screw up.
Though some view the Oscars (and other awards shows) as something inconsequential that doesn't "matter" ultimately, it's easy to see why the Academy is going to great lengths as they deal with the aftermath. Awards season builds up to Oscar Sunday, and they want the operation running smoothly so film lovers spend the following days talking about their favorite winners and snubs, not a mind-boggling mistake that capped off the festivities in an awkward manner. Yes, the infamous mixup proved to be great publicity for the indie Moonlight (which is getting a nationwide expansion), but the film's profile still would have been raised if it was crowned the victor under normal circumstances. Hopefully, next year's telecast won't be as chaotic. Maybe all the presenters should heed the words of Martin Scorsese, who jokingly asked for the envelope to be double-checked when he won for The Departed.
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