UPDATE: Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, told the Associated Press that Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, the two accountants responsible for presenting Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway with the Best Picture envelopes, would not be returning for future ceremonies.
“We clearly made a mistake and once the mistake was made we corrected it and owned up to it, ” Tim Ryan, the U.S chairman of the accounting firm, told Variety. On Sunday night, La La Land was accidentally named as the Best Picture winner before producers alerted everyone onstage that a mistake had been named and Moonlight was the winner.
Since the unbelievable Best Picture error, blame for the mix-up has been placed on Brian Cullinan, an associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers and one of two people responsible for distributing the award envelopes to the presenters.
“[Cullinan] feels very, very terrible and horrible. He is very upset about this mistake. And it is also my mistake, our mistake, and we all feel very bad,” Ryan added.
During the Oscar presentation, both Cullinan and fellow PricewaterhouseCoopers associate Martha Ruiz stand on opposite sides of the stage, each with a box containing the envelopes for all of the categories, since presenters enter from both sides of the stage.
While the exact details of how the mix-up occurred haven’t been revealed, it’s believed that Cullinan accidentally handed his box’s envelope for Best Actress to Warren Beatty instead of Best Picture; it was Ruiz who gave Leonardo DiCaprio her box’s Best Actress envelope when that actor presented the award to Emma Stone.
(Faye Dunaway, who proclaimed La La Land the Best Picture winner despite Beatty’s onstage confusion after being given the wrong envelope, said at a post-Oscars party, “I really fucked that up,” Variety reports.)
According to TMZ, in the moments before the Best Picture award was announced, Cullinan tweeted a photo of Stone backstage after her Best Actress win, suggesting he was possibly distracted at the time of the blunder. That tweet and similar backstage photos were subsequently deleted from Cullinan’s Twitter. He has not made any comment on social media since the incident.
In a statement following the Oscars, PricewaterhouseCoopers said, “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.”
However, Donald Trump posited another theory on the Best Picture mistake in an interview Monday, “I think [the Oscars] were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end. It was a little sad.”
‘Moonlight’ wins Best Picture over ‘La La Land’ in one of the biggest snafus in Oscars history.