Oscar mix-up conspiracy theories: Our suspects for the best picture trainwreck


The 2017 Oscars were decidedly tepid, mostly playing it safe with host Jimmy Kimmel reverting a good chunk of the ceremonies to a grandiose version of his late night show antics. It was set to be a forgettable Oscars — until the final category was announced. 

La La Land, you guys won best picture! This was the initial call from award presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, and even if it was a letdown, this was expected: La La Land tied the record for most Oscar nominations with 14. The musical was a heavy favorite to win the award, anyway. So La La Land's team went up to accept their award, producers Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt gave their speeches. By this point, publications were seconds away from posting their think pieces on why La La Land didn't deserve to win.  

But then a flurry of activity behind the La La Land producers began to arouse suspicion. Another producer, visibly upset, casually mentioned that the film lost. Huh? It's OK, here's Horowitz to clear things up. La La Land, you guys won best picture, right? 

"Moonlight, you guys won best picture," he said. Holy shit. 

In a twist M. Night Shyamalan would be proud of, Moonlight was the actual winner of the best picture race. The envelope presented to Beatty and Dunaway was apparently Emma Stone's best actress win. This type of drama — for the Oscars' most coveted award, no less — is so shocking and unprecedented, it's sure to ignite conspiracy theories behind how this could've happened. 

Here are the main suspects behind the craziest moment in Oscars history. 

Jimmy Kimmel 

Kimmel's late night show is known for his occasionally cruel pranks: He once asked parents to send him videos of themselves telling their children they ate all of their Halloween candy. Giving La La Land's team the ultimate joy before snatching it away seems par for the course. 

"I knew I would screw this up, I really did," he joked after the mix-up. Perhaps Kimmel knew because he really did screw it up. 


Warren Beatty 

Beatty did hand the envelope over to Dunaway, who actually read the incorrect winner. Some are seeing this as a dick move on Beatty's part, while others believe he was trying to show Dunaway that there was something off with the card (in fairness, he noticeably paused after opening the envelope). 

Maybe Beatty knew about the mix-up the whole time, and upstaging the Oscars' final award was his form of silent protest. Why would he be protesting? Well, Beatty's wife Annette Bening, who gave one of the year's best performances in 20th Century Women, was snubbed this year. 



Leonardo DiCaprio 

So there's a full-fledged conspiracy that Leo — perhaps accidentally — is at fault for the screw-up. Leo was the one who was holding Stone's envelope for her win, and theoretically it's possible that he could've misplaced it backstage where it inevitably fell into the hands of Dunaway and Beatty. 

But would Leo have any sinister motivations behind messing with the Oscars' presentation? It depends on whether you think he's upset about being snubbed at the Oscars for over a decade, and could only muster a win by freezing his ass off in the wilderness, eating raw bison liver and getting attacked by a giant grizzly bear in what was arguably one of his weaker Oscar performances

Just a thought. 


Isabelle Huppert 

Were you shocked when Moonlight was suddenly announced as the real winner? Twitter was, the entire Slate culture team's Slack channel was, and so was everyone attending the Oscars. Except for Isabelle Huppert. 

Somehow the French actress had no reaction to the fiasco. Coincidentally, Huppert lost the best actress category to La La Land's Emma Stone. Was this a revenge scheme from the actress described as the "French Meryl Streep," who has 19 fewer Oscar nominations than the actual Meryl Streep? 

Miles Teller 

Teller needed to bring the attention away from himself after an extremely accurate mean tweet during the show. 

Marisa Tomei 

For over two decades people have suspected that Marisa Tomei didn't actually win the 1993 best actress Oscar for My Cousin Vinny, and that presenter Jack Palance intentionally read the wrong name. Now, whether or not this is true, it's a controversy that's followed Tomei's win since. 

How can you be vindicated for the Oscars' biggest scandal? Create a bigger one. Twitter hath declared you are free, Marisa. 

Joanne the Scammer 

She's a messy bitch who lives her drama, and sabotaging the Oscars' best picture winner would be the ultimate scam.  


Mic has ongoing Oscars coverage. You can follow our main Oscars hub here.