Watching Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway give the Oscar for Best Picture to La La Land – only to have Moonlight read out as the real winner half-way through their acceptance speeches – is car crash television.
But we can’t help looking back in horrified fascination at the moments leading up to the worst mix-up in Academy Awards history.
So what happened? Well, the 79-year-old star of Bonnie and Clyde seems to have been unsure about the contents of his envelope when he opened it. In fact, this video clearly shows him checking and double checking up the card with a look of confusion on his face.
Most people probably thought he had forgotten his glasses, or was just teasing the audience
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 27, 2017
He then showed the card to his co-presenter, in what some say was an attempt to pass the buck – and others reckon was simply a failed attempt to get her to double-check his card. Either way, there was a major communication error behind the scenes as Faye happily read out the film she saw on the card.
Beatty later stepped up to the mic to explain he had been given the result of the Best Actress prize, rather than Best Picture.
“I opened the envelope and it said, Emma Stone, La La Land, that’s why I took such a long look at Faye,” Beatty said as the cast and crew of Moonlight and La La Land gathered on the stage in joy and horror (respectively).
He sheepishly added: “I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
The wrong winner has never previously been announced in the history of the Academy Awards.
And the plot thickened backstage as Stone informed the press room that she had been holding her winning envelope the entire time.
So, what happened? Footage clearly shows Beatty holding the result for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – were two of the same envelope accidentally produced? The plot thickens…