We pan in on the stage of the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where actors Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are about to announce best picture, the culmination of entertainment’s biggest awards show. Beatty opens a red envelope and looks at the card inside, giving a double-take. He looks inside the envelope to see if there’s anything else there.
BEATTY: “The Academy Award...”
He pauses, looks at the envelope again.
BEATTY: “For best picture...”
He pauses again and looks offstage, then hands the envelope to Dunaway, who gives it a quick glance.
DUNAWAY: “La La Land.”
The audience applauds, as the cast, crew and producers of La La Land take the stage to accept what many had anticipated, the coveted honour of best picture. Producers Jason Horowitz and Marc Platt give speeches, but something seems amiss as Platt speaks. There’s commotion among the people standing behind him as a man wearing headphones appears and checks red envelopes being held by producers.
PLATT: “Keep dreaming, because the dreams we dream today will provide the love, compassion and the humanity that will narrate the story of our lives tomorrow.”
The third producer, Fred Berger, takes his turn at the microphone and speaks briefly before looking at a confused scene behind him.
BERGER: “We lost, by the way.”
HOROWITZ: “There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won best picture. This is not a joke.”
PLATT: “This is not a joke. I’m afraid they read the wrong thing.”
HOROWITZ: “This is not a joke. Moonlight has won best picture.”
Horowitz takes a card from Beatty and holds it up. The camera pans in so the words are visible: Moonlight has indeed won best picture. Host Jimmy Kimmel approaches the microphone and alludes to Steve Harvey, whose 2015 reading of the wrong Miss Universe winner instantly becomes the second most-embarrassing awards show flub.
KIMMEL: “Guys. This is very unfortunate what happened. Personally, I blame Steve Harvey for this.”
Kimmel looks at Horowitz.
KIMMEL: “I would like to see you get an Oscar anyway. Why can’t we just give out a whole bunch of them?”
HOROWITZ: “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends at Moonlight.”
KIMMEL: “That’s nice of you.”
Beatty approaches the microphone.
BEATTY: “Hello? Hello?”
KIMMEL: “Warren, what did you do?”
BEATTY: “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 you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
By now, the cast and crew of “Moonlight” is taking the stage, supplanting the folks from La La Land, who were slipping away. The camera switches to people in the audience who look dumbfounded. Matt Damon whistles. Barry Jenkins, creator of Moonlight, approaches the microphone.
JENKINS: “Very clearly in my dreams, this could not be true. But to hell with dreams, I’m done with it, because this is true. Oh, my goodness.”
Jenkins finishes his speech. Then Kimmel takes the microphone again.
KIMMEL: “Well, I don’t know what happened. I blame myself... It’s just an awards show... I knew I would screw this show up. I really did... I promise I’ll never come back.”
Celebrities were quick to react to the gaffe. Here’s what some of them had to say:
“And the award for best actor goes to #WarrenBeatty. #moonlight”
“Warren Beatty is getting a lot of flack but wasn’t Faye Dunaway the one who actually said “La La Land”...?”
La Toya Jackson
“Congrats to #Moonlight #BestPicture #WarrenBeatty #oscars #Oscars2017 what mixup of an upset!”
M. Night Shyamalan
“I wrote the ending of the academy awards 2017. @jimmykimmel we really got them!”
Jessie Tyler Ferguson
“Maybe I won an Emmy one of the 5 times I lost! Anything is possible. Congrats to #Moonlight. An amazing and deserving best picture winner!”
“Warren Beatty just became the new host of FAMILY FEUD. #Oscars”
Neil Patrick Harris
“I feel bad for all involved: Warren, Jimmy, Marc Platt and the incredible La La Land team. That said, congrats to Moonlight. It’s brilliant.”
“Well come on, Bonnie & Clyde – they ARE robbers.”
“Nothing like live TV. Congrats to Moonlight! And to La La Land for such a gracious reaction. #Oscars”
Chloe Grace Moretz
“So that was wild.”