Oscars blunder: ‘I’m sorry, there’s a mistake. This is not a joke’

La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz holds up the winning envelope with 'Moonlight' as Best Picture.

La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz holds up the winning envelope with 'Moonlight' as Best Picture. Photo: Getty

The Academy Awards were mere minutes from ending when a blunder of epic proportions derailed the show, with presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway reading out the wrong winner for Best Picture.

The cast and crew of La La Land were interrupted mid-celebration when the show’s producers realised a monumental error had been made.

“I’m sorry, no, there’s a mistake,” La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz said.

Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture. This is not a joke.”

Horowitz then held up the winning envelope which bore the words ‘Best Picture – Moonlight’ as evidence.

“This is not a joke. I’m afraid they read the wrong thing,” an unidentified man added.

Beatty returned to the microphone to explain he had been handed the wrong envelope and had been trying to figure out what was going on when Dunaway jumped in and read the wrong name.

“I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope. And it said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land’. That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny,” Beatty said.

The ceremony’s host Jimmy Kimmel joked: “I knew I would screw this show up. I really did.”

La La Land was the hot favourite to win the award, so Moonlight’s victory was a massive upset.

Watch the awkward moment below

Upon closer inspection, shots of Beatty right before the award was announced revealed he was, in fact, holding the envelope for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Those on social media were quick to identify the culprit, with many blaming Leonardo DiCaprio, the man last spotted with the offending envelope.

Others speculated the whole thing was a set-up designed to generate publicity for the awards show.

In the end Price Waterhouse Coopers – the accounting firm tasked with compiling the Oscars votes – apologised and took responsibility for the mix up.

The winners

While it missed out on Best Picture, La La Land dominated several other categories, with its star Emma Stone winning Best Actress and director Damien Chazelle scoring Best Director, as well as accolades for Best Original Song and Best Original Score.

Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea were the other big winners of the evening, with Casey Affleck taking home Best Actor for his performance in Manchester by the Sea, while Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight.

Fences star Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress and gave a tearful speech thanking her parents: “The people who taught me good or bad, how to fail, how to love, how to hold an award, how to lose.”

Kimmel joked Davis had already been nominated for an Emmy for the speech.

As for Australian winners, local sound editors Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright accepted the trophy for Best Sound Editing for Hacksaw Ridge alongside Americans Peter Grace and Kevin O’Connell.

The full list of winners:

Best Picture: Moonlight

Best Actor: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress: Emma Stone for La La Land

Best Director: Damien Chazelle for La La Land (the youngest in history to win best director at 32 years old).

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Suicide Squad, Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregornini and Christopher Nelson

Best Costume: Colleen Atwood Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Documentary Feature: OJ: Made in America

Achievement in Sound Editing: Sylvain Bellemore for Arrival

Achievement in Sound Mixing: Hacksaw Ridge, Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Renee Gracie.

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis for Fences

Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman, directed by Asghar Farhadi

Best Animated Short Film: Piper, Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer

Best Animated Feature Film: Zootopia, Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

Achievement in Production Design: David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco for La La Land

Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book, Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

Achievement in Film Editing: John Gilbert for Hacksaw Ridge

Best Documentary (Short): The White Helmets

Best Short Film (Live Action):  Kristof Deák and Anna Udvardy for Sing

Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren for La La Land

Best Original Score: Justin Hurwitz for La La Land

Best Original Song: City of Stars from La La Land by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea by Kenneth Lonergan

Best Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight by Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney

Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue

Aside from that brief moment of confusion, late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel was widely commended for his hosting abilities, particularly his hilarious opening monologue.

“It has been an amazing year for movies, black people saved NASA and white people saved jazz. That is what you call progress,” he joked of nominated films Hidden Figures and La La Land as part of a politically charged series of jokes.

A handful of the jokes targeted controversial Hacksaw Ridge director Mel Gibson for his past racist comments.

Kimmel said he felt pressure to stand up and unite America during such a tumultuous time, but joked: “There is only one Braveheart in this room and he is not going to unite us either, OK?”

Finally, Kimmel had many in the audience in stitches with his “tribute” to Meryl Streep, poking fun at Donald Trump’s appraisal of her as “overrated”.

“Of all the great actors here in Hollywood, one in particular has stood the test of time for her uninspiring and overrated performances,” Kimmel said.

“May I say from her mediocre early work in The Deer Hunter and Out of Africa and Kramer Vs Kramer, Streep has phoned it in for more than 50 films.”

“Nice dress by the way,” Kimmel concluded, “Is that an Ivanka?”

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