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Crazy Oscars ending: "Moonlight" is best picture after "La La Land" mistakenly crowned


"Moonlight" claimed the heaviest hardware of the night at the end of Sunday's Academy Awards, winning the best-picture Oscar after a goof redolent of a certain 2015 beauty pageant mixup.

UPDATE: In a statement released about 3 a.m. Monday, PricewaterhouseCoopers apologized for the mess.

"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," said the statement from the firm responsible for tallying Oscar ballots and keeping up with envelopes containing winners. "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."

NEW: Steve Harvey's take on the best-picture goof: "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty" I'm free at last!

MORE: Mahershala Ali is the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar 

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"La La Land" was mistakenly announced as the best-picture winner in a cringe-worthy gaffe Kimmel did his best to smooth over.

"Personally, I blame Steve Harvey for this," the host quipped, referencing Harvey's inadvertent crowning of the wrong Miss Universe winner in 2015 .

Beatty, who with "Bonnie and Clyde" co-star Dunaway introduced the final award of the night, gave an explanation of what happened.

"Hello. I want to tell you what happened: I opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone, 'La La Land.' I wasn't trying to be funny," he said. "This is 'Moonlight,' the best picture."

MORE:   All the winners

It still isn't super clear what happened - did someone hand the presenters the wrong card, or what? Look for an exhaustive investigation.

Early on, "Moonlight" star Mahershala Ali picked up a best supporting actor trophy as the first winner of the night.

"Wow. I want to thank my teachers, my professors. I have so many wonderful teachers, and one thing that they consistently told me—Zelda Fichandler, Ron Van Lieu, Ken Washington—is that it wasn’t about you," Ali said during his acceptance speech. "It’s not about you. It’s about these characters you are serving. You’re in service to these stories and these characters, and I’m so blessed to have had an opportunity—it was about Juan, it was about Chiron, it was about Paula. The cast and crew was just such a wonderful experience. Thank you, (director) Barry Jenkins. Thank you, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Adele Romanski, who forced Barry to cast me, and it’s just such a wonderful experience. And I have so many people to thank who got me here. My manager Carolyn Govers, who I’ve been with for 10 years. Just thank you so much. And the rest of the cast, who did wonderful work. Any one of them could be up here right now holding this trophy. It’s such a gift getting to work with you and be inspired by you and the performances that you all offered up. So thank you, the Academy, I really appreciate this. I just want to thank my wife, who was in her third trimester during awards season. We just had our daughter four days ago. I just want to thank her for being such a soldier through this process and help, and really carrying me through it all. So thank you. Really appreciate it. Peace and blessings."

Stone picked up a best-actress trophy for her role in "La La Land," which also scored 32-year-old  Damien Chazelle best director honors.  "La La Land" also claimed best original song ("City of Stars"), cinematography and production design awards.

"I’m so grateful to have been involved in this film," Stone said in her acceptance speech. "And thank you for your faith and your patience and such a wonderful experience. And Ryan Gosling, thank you for making me laugh and for always raising the bar, and for being the greatest partner on this crazy adventure."

Sunday's Academy Awards event was peppered with mild political jabs from Kimmel, who at one point tweeted President Donald Trump. The president's artistic nemesis Meryl Streep, whom he disparaged as "overrated" after her Golden Globe speech blasting his policies, was in the running for a best-actress award. Since she didn't get a chance to give whatever speech she might have planned, it's unclear what Trump's response might be. Check Twitter, though.

Among the lighthearted moments: Kimmel welcomed a roster of tourists who thought they'd just be cruising around seeing the sights. Instead a guy named Gary from Chicago showed up, camera phone locked and loaded. After Gary introduced his fiancee and fellow tour member, Oscar nominee Denzel Washington jumped to his feet to pronounce them man and wife. (Shoot, what else do you need?)

The most pointed political commentary of the night came from a winner who did not attend. After "The Salesman" was named best foreign film, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi delivered his remarks via a spokeswoman,  Anousheh Ansari:

“It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I would like to thank the members of the Academy, my crew in Iran, my producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Cohen Media, Amazon and my fellow nominees in the foreign film category. I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.”


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Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for