La LOL Land
by Amanda Arnett
The Oscars. It is arguably the biggest night in the entertainment world, and on this, the 89th year of the ceremony, it was also the biggest flop of the entertainment world.
As a beautiful night of glittering gowns, Jimmy Kimmel roasting Matt Damon, and everyone pretending to be shocked when La La Land won basically every award, wound down, it was time for the award everyone had been waiting for, Best Picture. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of beloved TV show Bonnie and Clyde, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asked Faye Dunaway (Bonnie) and Warren Beatty (Clyde) to present the most prestigious award of the night. The stars sauntered onto the stage with bright smiles, but after Beatty opened the red envelope, he seemed confused. He paused, looked at the audience, then back down at the card. He then showed it to Dunaway, who only glanced at it and announced La La Land had won best picture. Now pause here: remember the Miss Universe 2015 pageant when Steve Harvey mistakenly announced the runner up as the winner? Yeah so that’s what I’m getting at here because no, the Best Picture winner was not La La Land, it was actually the film Moonlight. Just in case you happened to miss it.
The La La Land crew had already begun giving their acceptance speeches, tears of joy were being shed, and little statuettes of golden men had been given to the cast. Chaos then erupted on stage as officials emerged from backstage and spread the news that Moonlight had won, and La La Land had been announced mistakenly. The frenzy of confusion evoked diverse reactions, including some small giggles from Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and an “I blame Steve Harvey” joke by host Jimmy Kimmel.
How could a mistake of this magnitude happen on one of the most watched shows on the planet? What happened was that Beatty had been given the backup envelope for Best Actress, which said Emma Stone, La La Land as the winner, instead of the Best Picture envelope. After the mistake had been corrected, Beatty explained that he was not trying to be funny but that he was utterly confused when he read the envelope and knew something was awry.
Two accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm were at the heart of the fiasco, as they were directly responsible for handing the result envelopes to the presenters. The two accountants, Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan, also manually count the votes made by members of the Academy and are the only people who had prior knowledge of the winners. Ironically, just days before the event, the pair told the Huffington Post that they were unsure of the exact procedure if the wrong winner was announced.
According to PwC United States Chairman Tim Ryan, Mr. Cullinan was the one responsible for handing Warren Beatty the wrong envelope. What may have caused Cullinan to make this drastic mistake is unknown, but just minutes before the incident he posted a photo to twitter of Emma Stone backstage after her Best Actress Win. It is speculated that his posting and gawking over the celebrity may have distracted him and contributed to his mishap.
PwC has since issued a formal apology and it is unknown at the moment if the company’s contract with the Oscars is in jeopardy or not. Academy president Cheryl Boone, however, announced Wednesday that both Ruiz and Cullinan have been fired from working any future telecasts
The 2017 Oscars will go down in the books as one of the most intriguing ceremonies in Oscar history, and as one of the biggest fails in the entertainment industry.