Sleuths on the internet have found that Warren Beatty was holding the wrong envelope onstage when he was presenting the best picture award. His envelope appears to say “actress in a leading role” on the outside:
That’s what led to co-presenter Faye Dunaway seeing Emma Stone’s best actress card for “La La Land” in the envelope, and incorrectly announcing the film as the best picture winner.
But Emma Stone mentioned that she was holding onto her already-opened best actress card that was used when her name was announced.
So how is that possible? Apparently there are “two sets” of envelopes for each winner, according to a BBC interview with Martha Ruiz, a partner at accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which counts the votes.
USA Today confirms this account in its report from backstage: “The real drama kicks in when La La Land filmmakers take the stage to accept best picture.The accountant from PriceWaterhouseCoopers jumps up and says, ‘He (presenter Warren Beatty) took the wrong envelope!’ and goes running onstage.”
A big question is: What if Beatty had instead grabbed the “actor in a leading role” envelope, with Casey Affleck’s name on it? Then Dunaway might have announced the best picture winner as his film, “Manchester by the Sea,” an extreme long shot — and everyone would have really been surprised.