PwC apologises for incorrect envelope during Oscars ceremony

28 February 2017 3 min. read
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The annual presentation of the Academy Awards - known as the Oscars – took place over the weekend. The award for the best film was awarded to La La Land, in error as it soon became clear, with Moonlight the real winner. The mistake was made, because the presenters of the prize had been given the wrong envelope by accountancy and consultancy firm PwC, which has for the past 83 years been responsible for the award procedure for the Oscars. PwC has apologised in a statement.

The Academy Awards – better known as the Oscars – is among the best known prizes in the world for film and film technique. The award ceremony is organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and was first awarded in 1929 – today making the Academy Awards the oldest award ceremony in the entertainment industry. Annually the AMPAS awards performances in 24 different categories, including those of best film, best male and female actors and best director, and also, for example, for best cinematography and best soundtrack.

Last weekend the 89th edition of the Oscars was held to honour the best films of 2016. The nominees for the awards were announced on January 24, 2017. La La Land, a romantic comedy-drama about a musician and an emerging actress in Los Angeles who fall in love, received a record number of 14 nominations. The same record of nomination has only been achieved two times earlier in the nearly 90-year history of the event, namely, by All About Eve in 1950 and Titanic in 1997. Arrival and Moonlight, two other high-performing films of last year, received eight nominations each.

PwC apologises for incorrect envelope during Oscars ceremony

During the event, however, something unexpected happened. When Warren Beatty took the stage along with Faye Dunaway to award the Oscar for best film, they opened the envelope containing the winner, La La Land, which was subsequently called out – by them – as the best film of 2016; however, when the entire cast of the film had gathered on stage, and they were partway through giving their acceptance letters and speeches, the microphone was seized by La La Land-producer Jordan Horrowitz, who announced that the Oscar had been incorrectly awarded. Moonlight, a drama about the life of a man of African-American descent, went on to claim the prize.

Shortly after the announcement of the mistake, Beatty took the microphone to explain that he had received the envelope for best actress in place of the one for best film. Emma Stone, the lead actress from La La Land, was indeed awarded the prize for best actress. It was discovered, later, that there were two copies of the envelop for best actress in circulation.

Double envelope

The error, which is dubbed "historic" by media outlets, was made by accounting and consulting firm PwC, which has, for the past 83 years, been responsible for the correct presentation of the Oscars. The firm has confirmed that a mistake was made during the preparation of the envelopes, which allowed Beatty to take the wrong category envelope onto the stage.

The Big Four firm apologised in a statement: “We sincerely apologize to "Moonlight," "La La Land," Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”

Despite the award for best film not going out to La La Land, the film – directed by Damien Chazelle – did win the most Oscars this year. La La Land went home with six golden statuettes.