A GIF Breakdown of the Oscars’ Last-Minute Best Picture Debacle

The cast and crew of Moonlight accepting their Oscar. Photo: Getty Images

Sorry, Abraham Zapruder: We’ve got a new piece of footage to pore over again and again. In the final moments of Sunday night’s Oscars telecast, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly announced La La Land as the Best Picture winner, only for that film’s acceptance speeches to be interrupted by the news that Moonlight had actually won instead.

How did this happen? Let’s turn to our culture’s one infallible record: GIFs.

First, Beatty opens the envelope. He’s initially befuddled by what he sees.

Then he vamps for a bit, and checks to see if there’s a second piece of paper inside.

The reason for his confusion? As eagle-eyed viewers later confirm, he’s holding the envelope for Best Actress.

More vamping.

Beatty hands the envelope to Dunaway. Seeing La La Land on the card, she confidently announces the musical as the Best Picture winner. As the camera cuts away, a microphone picks up Beatty telling her, “But it says Emma Stone.”

As the La La Land gang begins to accept the award, a man in a headset arrives on stage to check out the envelope, which is now in the hands of the ostensible winners.

A moment of uncertainty as team La La Land tries to figure out what’s going on.

Emma Stone: “Oh my God.”

Then La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz interrupts to set the record straight: Moonlight is the real winner.

“This is not a joke.”

The man in the headset hands the correct envelope to Horowitz, who shows it to the audience.


Team Moonlight is elated.

As the La La Land crowd sheepishly congratulates the Moonlight people, Jimmy Kimmel arrives to rib Beatty about the mistake.

Knowing that he’ll probably never live this down, Beatty explains that his envelope had Emma Stone’s name in it.

Beatty realizes he’s now a part of Oscar history. On the bright side, this will probably make people forget Rules Don’t Apply.

The Oscars’ Best Picture Debacle: A GIF Breakdown