Last night’s Oscars included one of the biggest moments in the history of the Academy Awards… but it wasn’t who won best picture, but rather how it was awarded.
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced ‘La La Land’ as the Best Picture winner, when it was actually ‘Moonlight.’ Oops! As it turns out, they were given the wrong secret envelope before heading out on stage. Here’s how it went down:
This wasn’t the first time there was a problem with revealing the correct winner. In 1964, Sammy Davis Jr. was given the wrong envelope and named the winner of “best scoring of music—adaptation or treatment”, declaring John Addison the winner… except that wasn’t the category that Addison had been nominated in.
But that wasn’t the biggest flub.
The whole reason that the Oscars uses ‘secret envelopes’ dates back the to 1939 ceremony. Back then, newspapers were given the list of winners in advance, on condition that they not publish the winners until after the ceremony had concluded. But that year, the LA Times mistakenly published the winners before the ceremony had started, including the announcement of Gone With the Wind as best picture. To keep that from happening again, the secret envelopes were introduced for the following year.