LOS ANGELES • The Academy Awards this year will be remembered as the Oscars with a massive gaffe at its climax.
In an epic flub that drew gasps of horror - and joy - at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, actress Faye Dunaway mistakenly named La La Land the Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday, but in reality, Moonlight won the top prize.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the accounting firm responsible for tabulating Oscar ballots and safeguarding the results until they are announced, apologised.
"We sincerely apologise to Moonlight, La La Land, (presenters) Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture," the company said in a statement.
"The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and, when discovered, was immediately corrected."
Ahead of the event, PwC partners Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, who handle the Oscars, explained that two sets of envelopes are on site during the event.
"We stand on opposite sides of the stage, right off-screen, for the entire evening, and we each hand the respective envelope to the presenter," Mr Cullinan told medium.com. "It doesn't sound very complicated, but you have to make sure you are giving the presenter the right envelope."
The gaffe brought to mind the Miss Universe 2015 pageant, where host Steve Harvey named the first runner-up, Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez, as the winner, instead of Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach.
The announcement of the wrong Best Picture winner was all anyone could talk about at the exclusive Oscar after-parties. "One minute, everyone was cheering - and then we saw the guy with the mic rushing around on stage and we knew something was wrong," said an actor who declined to be named.