After That Best Picture Mixup, Here’s What To Know About The Firm That Counts The Results

Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images.
By now, you've obviously heard of the insane mix-up that happened last night at the Oscars when it was time to give out the award for Best Picture. In case you didn't, here's a quick recap: The award was handed to La La Land, and then the people on the stage were like, "Guys, our bad, Moonlight is the real Best Picture winner." It was one of the most remarkable moments in the history of both the Oscars and live TV.
After the dust settled, PricewaterhouseCoopers, also known as PwC, issued a statement apologising for the royal screw up.
"We sincerely apologise 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. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected," the organisation said. "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."
So, what is PwC? The U.K. accounting firm is one of the most recognised in the world. For the past 83 years, it has been in charge of counting the Oscar ballots. It has also been in charge of supervising that the correct winners are announced during the ceremony.
Through all that time, a little over a dozen people have been in charge of tabulating the votes, according to the BBC. Alongside a small team, Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan were the people in charge of counting the votes of the 7,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Ruiz is a tax partner at the firm and Cullinan is the U.S. board chairman, per CNBC.
Ruiz and Cullinan each has the complete set of results — and they're the only two people who have that information prior to the ceremony. Last night, they carried the briefcases with the winner envelopes inside. You could actually see them on the stage trying to fix the gaffe when the La La Land team began to deliver acceptance speeches for Best Picture.
The real question on everyone's mind is: How did this happen? Well, apparently there are duplicate envelopes for each category as a precaution. Somehow — and this is the part that is still unclear — it appears that presenter Warren Beatty was given the duplicate envelope for the Best Actress category, which named Emma Stone for La La Land, rather than the envelope for Best Picture, which would have said Moonlight.
The system was supposed to be foolproof. Until, well, it wasn't.

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