Al Pacino Explains Awkward Oscars Moment Presenting Best Picture


The actor Al Pacino sought to explain his awkward and abrupt announcement of “Oppenheimer” as the best picture winner at the Academy Awards, saying in a statement on Monday that the producers had decided he would not read the full list of nominees.

“I just want to be clear it was not my intention to omit them, rather a choice by the producers not to have them said again since they were highlighted individually throughout the ceremony,” Pacino said in the statement. “I was honored to be a part of the evening and chose to follow the way they wished for this award to be presented.”

Instead of the typical lead-up to the most important announcement of the night, Pacino omitted the customary “And the Oscar goes to” followed by a dramatic pause, instead opening the envelope and proclaiming: “And my eyes see ‘Oppenheimer.’ ” That prompted what appeared be a moment of uncertainty that soon ebbed as the cast and crew of the film, including its director, Christopher Nolan, realized that they had won and began to make their way to the stage.

The anticlimactic end to the show became fodder for online chatter and memes on social media as viewers tried to figure out if something had gone awry. (Comparisons to the “Moonlight”/“La La Land” best picture mix-up of 2017 were perhaps inevitable, but the temporary confusion at Sunday’s ceremony was not close to reaching those levels.)

In an interview with Variety, one of the show’s producers, Molly McNearney, said Pacino’s presentation was “always supposed to be fast” because the show had included video packages for each of the 10 nominees through the night, and that there had been fears that the telecast would go over its allotted time.

McNearney acknowledged in the interview that the unconventional delivery had “made it a little confusing” but said that “that’s the excitement of live television.”

After the ceremony on Sunday night, Bill Kramer, the chief executive of the academy, said in an interview that he had been pleased with Pacino’s performance. “Everything went beautifully,” Kramer said. “He was just having fun up there.”

Pacino, who won a best actor Oscar for his role in the 1992 movie “Scent of a Woman” and has been nominated eight other times, said that he had felt it necessary to make a statement on the reaction to his delivery because he “profoundly relates” to filmmakers, actors and producers who might feel slighted.

“I realize being nominated is a huge milestone in one’s life and to not be fully recognized is offensive and hurtful,” he said in the statement.

Nicole Sperling and Matt Stevens contributed reporting.


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