Forty-eight hours after launching countless internet memes, Best Picture presenter Warren Beatty is asking the academy to weigh in on the snafu. He told the AP, “I feel it would be more appropriate for the president of the academy, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, to publicly clarify what happened as soon as possible.” Beatty is married to Annette Bening, a long-serving representative of the actors branch on the academy’s board of governors.
Since Sunday, the academy has had little to say about the mix-up beyond that it is “investigating the circumstances” and “will determine what actions are appropriate going forward.” On Monday, it did issue a statement from the accounting firm PwC, which has handled ballot counting for the last 83 years of the Oscars. The statement reads in full:
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 Brian Cullinan and his associate Martha Ruiz. Each of them has a set of envelopes for all two dozen categories. Cullinan, 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.
We know Ruiz had given Best Actress presenter Leonardo DiCaprio her version of that envelope. It was Cullinan who gave Beatty and Faye Dunaway the spare Best Actress envelope instead of the Best Picture one. The accountant did make his way onstage to right this wrong but only after several minutes, during which the “La La Land” producers delivered heartfelt acceptance speeches.What took Cullinan so long to bring this runaway train to a halt? We know he was waiting in the wings as he tweeted out a photo of Stone holding her Oscar as she awaited the announcement of Best Picture.