At long last, after hours of speculation and mounting conspiracy theories, an explanation has emerged as to what the hell happened last night at the Oscars. In case you've been living under a rock and missed this unprecedented screw-up, La La Land was incorrectly announced as Best Picture when Moonlight had in fact won.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that has handled the Oscar ballots and envelopes for several years, issued a statement earlier today in which they apologized profusely, but said that the details were still being investigated. Now, a PwC spokesman has offered a more detailed explanation, and it basically all comes down to "human error" and... piles of paper.
There are two separate, identical piles of winner envelopes backstage, and when PwC partner Brian Cullinan went to retrieve what should have been the Best Picture envelope, he accidentally drew it from the "backup" pile. As a result, Cullinan handed the wrong envelope—the duplicate for Best Lead Actress—to Warren Beatty, who carried it to the stage and was noticeably confused to see Emma Stone's name in print. Beatty handed the envelope over to Faye Dunaway, who read out "La La Land" without noticing the error, and the rest is history.
"We clearly made a mistake and once the mistake was made we corrected it and owned up to it," said Tim Ryan, PwC's U.S. chairman and senior partner. He confirmed that Cullinan "feels very, very terrible and horrible. He is very upset about this mistake. And it is also my mistake, our mistake and we all feel very bad."
But clearly the larger mistake here is that the Academy uses piles as its filing system for Hollywood's most closely-guarded secrets. Like, are the piles even labelled? Color-coded? So many questions here.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.