In the worst blunder in Oscar history, the Academy Award for best picture was handed to the wrong nominee - and the mistake was only discovered halfway through the acceptance speech.

Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner for best picture at the end of the night, awarding the trophy to La La Land when it actually was supposed to go to Moonlight.

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty mistakenly announce La La Land as the best picture winner when it should have gone to Moonlight. Photo/Getty
Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty mistakenly announce La La Land as the best picture winner when it should have gone to Moonlight. Photo/Getty
Moonlight

director Barry Jenkins said he was "speechless" when the correct result was offered.

It all started as Dunaway's co-presenter, Warren Beatty, opened the envelope to read the winner for best picture. He looked confused, took a long pause, and then looked over at Dunaway, who clearly thought he was doing some sort of bit.

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"You're awful!" she said, as the crowd laughed nervously. "God."

Beatty then handed the envelope to Dunaway, who announced "La La Land!"

The cast and crew of La La Land arrived on stage to accept the award before someone realised the mix-up, which set off moments of extreme confusion, slight panic and...well, no one really knew what was happening.

"There's been a mistake," producer Jordan Horowitz said, as he ran onstage. "Moonlight, you guys won."

Jordan Horowitz, producer of La La Land, shows the envelope revealing Moonlight as the true winner of best picture at the Oscars. Photo / AP
Jordan Horowitz, producer of La La Land, shows the envelope revealing Moonlight as the true winner of best picture at the Oscars. Photo / AP

As Beatty later explained to the crowd, he had paused to look at the envelope, which read "Emma Stone,

La La Land

." Stone had just won best actress.

"That's why I took such a long look at Faye...I wasn't trying to be funny," Beatty explained to the audience. "This is Moonlight the best picture."

La La Land's cast and crew were halfway through their acceptance speeches when the mistake was realised.

Host Jimmy Kimmel joked: "Warren, what did you do?"

Warren Beatty exits the stage after announcing the wrong award for best picture. Photo / AP
Warren Beatty exits the stage after announcing the wrong award for best picture. Photo / AP
The Washington Post

described it as the most shocking Oscars moment ever and the error was quickly picked up as a topic of discussion by viewers.

Afterwards, Emma Stone spoke to reporters backstage:

"Of course it was an amazing thing to hear La La Land. We would have loved to have won best picture. But we are so excited for Moonlight. I think it's one of the best films of all time.

The cast and crew of Moonlight accept the award for best picture. Photo/Getty
The cast and crew of Moonlight accept the award for best picture. Photo/Getty

"I was also holding my 'best actress in a leading role' card that entire time. So whatever story, I don't mean to start stuff, but whatever story that was, I had that card."

Moonlight director Jenkins said he's a longtime Oscar viewer, and had never seen anything like this happen before.

"I noticed the commotion and I thought something strange had occurred, and I'm sure everybody saw my face, but I was speechless when the result was offered," Jenkins said backstage.

"So it made a very special feeling even more special, but not in the way I expected."






Additional reporting: Washington Post