The accountants responsible issued an apology for the biggest mistake in the 89-year history of the Oscars. At Sunday’s ceremony, Brian Cullinan of PwC gave Best Picture presenter Warren Beatty the wrong envelope. In turn, his co-presenter Faye Dunaway announced that “La La Land” had won rather than the real champ “Moonlight.” What followed was four minutes of chaos far more compelling than most of the movies in competition.
The statement from PwC, which has handled ballot counting for the last 83 years of the Oscars, says:
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.
Prior to the opening of any envelope at the Oscars, only two people know the names of the winners: PwC partner Culliman and his associate Martha Ruiz. Each of them has a set of envelopes for all two dozen categories. Culliman, the chairman of the US board of PwC, has led the Oscar ballot team since 2014 while Ruiz has been on the team for more than a decade.
Culliman did make his way onstage to right his wrong but only after several minutes, during which the “La La Land” producers delivered heartfelt acceptance speeches. Kudos to one of them, Jordan Horowitz, for his graciousness when revealing to a stunned audience that “Moonlight” was the actual winner.