All the gleaming Hollywood performances of 2016 couldn't outshine the glaring error that capped off what was supposed to be a celebration of the year's brightest films and performances.
Late Sunday, screen legends Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced the final and most anticipated award of the night, Best Picture, would go to La La Land. But then it didn't.
As producers of the musical tribute to the Hollywood dream were finishing up their thank yous and the celebrity elite prepared for an annual night of mutual pats on the back, something very unexpected happened.
In an awkward turn of events, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz returned to the microphone and told a shocked crowd: "Moonlight won Best Picture... This is not a joke."
The folks on stage, including La La Land star and best actress winner Emma Stone, appeared as confused as millions of television viewers felt about the unprecedented flub.
According to the AP, Beatty and Dunaway walked on-stage not with the Best Picture envelope, but with the one from Emma Stone's earlier win for the film.
Assuming it was a mistake to have the actress' name on the card, Beatty and his Bonnie and Clyde co-star appeared to confer before Dunaway read the name of the film only.
"It's one of the strangest things that's ever happened to me," Beatty reportedly later said.
"Thank God there were two of us up there," Dunaway responded.
To reporters backstage, Emma Stone said she was totally confused because she kept the card bearing her name with her after her win.
"I also was holding my best actress in a leading role card [from the envelope] that entire time," she said.
But, as Variety notes, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (now PwC) accountants bring two briefcases each year, then stand on each side of the stage and hand the envelopes to the presenters right before they walk out.
While the presenters were no doubt a little embarrassed, the folks behind La La Land were put in the likely more uncomfortable position of having to congratulate the Moonlight victors as they took the stage to accept the award.
The only person feeling more vindicated than Moonlight director Barry Jenkins following the correction was TV personality Steve Harvey.
The host of the Miss Universe pageant became the butt of jokes worldwide after crowning the wrong 2015 winner. Harvey quipped on Twitter following the Oscars mix-up: "Good morning everybody! Went to sleep early last night. So... what I miss? #Oscars"
there are always two sets of envelopes at the Academy Awards: The PriceWaterhouseCoopers accountants bring two briefcases, then stand backstage, one on each side of the stage. They hand the envelopes to the presenters right before they walk out.
"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," a statement from the firm said. "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."