And the winner isn’t…

27 February 2017 | Lloyd Hughes

The headline news today has been very much Oscars focused.

It always is at this time of year.

But rather than the good PR associated with a round of platitudes praising the winners, the news has focused on the fact they got it spectacularly wrong and handed the award for Best Picture to the wrong film.

Sunday night saw La La Land initially announced as the winner and with the key figures associated with the film descending on the stage en masse and allowed to begin their acceptance speeches, it gradually became apparent that someone had handed the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty who was presenting the awards.

After a panicked looking discussion behind the speechmaker, the truth soon came out: the actual winner was Moonlight.

Cue stunned disbelief.

La La Land’s producer Jordan Horowitz showed admirable decorum in taking control and urging the Moonlight cast and crew to come up to the stage and accept the award that was, in fact, for them.

A monumental mix up, caused through a seemingly basic error of handing over the wrong envelope and headlines all around the world focusing on the mistake, rather than the winner.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accountancy giant that has overseen the counting of the Oscars ballot for 83 years, has been left understandably red-faced by the fiasco.

A real dose of bad PR for the firm, and it’s had to issue an apology, saying it will conduct an investigation into the failings behind it.

I can only imagine how it feels to be told you’ve won something and then have it crushingly taken away from you. It also taints the achievement of those involved with Moonlight. Much like Olympic medal winners receiving their prize after a drug cheat’s expulsion, the achievement and sense of euphoria is tarnished. Winning should be a special and unique moment, but last night’s Oscars farce was anything but.

The Academy Awards are a massive spectacle, known throughout the world and the scrutiny around them has been intense. No doubt some tough questions will have been asked in the PwC headquarters today.

The person behind the blunder, Brian Cullinan, is being talked about all over the press, which is no doubt a very uncomfortable experience, especially when it centres on a personal error. You can't help but feel sorry for him, but taking probably the biggest gig in the accountancy world (who knew accountants handed out the envelopes?!), comes with its own responsibilities. And in this instance Brian, sadly, failed in what he was tasked to do.

Widely billed as the biggest mistake in Oscar history, it's not something you'd want your name associated with for evermore. But, unlike yesteryear, news isn't simply tomorrow's chip paper anymore. The internet keeps things there forever (at least until the advent of a Trump induced nuclear holocaust perhaps), so poor Brian is now in it for the long haul.