PwC Apologizes For "Historic, Colossal, Ludicrous" Oscar Screw-up
For those who missed last night's ritual of Hollywood self-congratulation, it ended in perhaps the greatest humiliation in Oscars' history, when the spectacle that relentlessly mocked and ridiculed Donald Trump, both directly and indirectly, concluded by handing the Best Picture award to the wrong movie.
The award was given to Moonlight after presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially announced that La La Land had won best picture. As the film's producers were making their acceptance speeches, producer Jordan Horowitz informed viewers that the category's winner was actually Moonlight, and showed the card announcing the winner to the camera. Beatty then informed the stunned audience of the mix-up, as he and Dunaway had mistakenly been given, and read, the card for best actress, which was presented to La La Land's Emma Stone just minutes before.
As the WSJ's Jason Gay summarized hours after the show, "Well, that was nuts, even for Hollywood."
Let’s be clear: the Oscars were already a fairly ridiculous exercise. A cathedral of glamour and ego, the movie industry’s annual awards conclave is a bloated exercise of hype and self-satisfaction that takes as long to complete as the second year of medical school. This is, of course, why we watch it. An Oscars ceremony that isn’t too long, inane and occasionally infuriating—that’s not a proper Oscars, buddy!
And yet, what happened late Sunday in Los Angeles redefined the already high standard for absurdity at the Academy Awards. An event that once gave us a Rob Lowe duet with Snow White, as well as Telly Savalas,Pat Morita and Dom DeLuise singing “Fugue For Tinhorns” from “Guys & Dolls,” now has its signature moment of insanity: “Bonnie & Clyde” compatriots Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway erroneously awarding Best Picture to “La La Land”— rather than the actual winner, “Moonlight.”
I’ve watched the sequence on replay several times now and, to be honest, it’s way too bizarre to be infuriating. It appeared that Mr. Beatty and Ms. Dunaway were somehow in possession of an incorrect envelope, containing not the Best Picture winner, but the Best Actress, which had just been awarded to Emma Stone of “La La Land.” Opening the crimson envelope, 79-year-old Mr. Beatty seemed baffled, pausing briefly before handing it off to Ms. Dunaway, who announced “La La Land” as the winner.
The most painful thing, really, is that mistake wasn’t recognized immediately. Where was the production team? Already tucking into steaks at Musso & Frank? Even Steve Harvey botching the prize for Miss Universe 2015—the previous gold standard for bungled awards show finales—was faster to repair the damage of a winner incorrectly named.
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Between the election, the Super Bowl, and now this, it has been some stretch for late-breaking upsets. It will be tempting for some to seize upon the Oscar flub as an example of Hollywood hubris, or karmic retribution for the political leanings of the filmmaking tribe. I guess you could do that, though that sort of takes the fun out of it. Conspiracy theories will pop up, too, but it really seems like what happened Sunday was a screw-up.
Gay's punchline: "a historic, colossal, ludicrous screw-up, which undoubtedly has some very talented people feeling very terrible. But let’s keep some perspective. It’s just the Oscars, man. It’s a TV show that’s always been too long and too weird. If they promise to always be this crazy, I’ll stay up late to watch every time." Which perhaps was the whole point.
In any case, with the damage done, the fingerpointing begins, and as expected, the first on the firing line is none other than the firm tasked with making sure epic fiascos like this never happen.