Bonnie and Clyde stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway reunited Sunday at the Oscars stage to announce the biggest award of the night, but the actors who played the infamous outlaws nearly gave the Best Picture prize to the wrong film.
The duo initially read that the Best Picture winner was La La Land, but the mix-up was then corrected and Moonlight was awarded the night’s top prize. Beatty then went back to the microphone to explain that their envelope contained the winner for a different category — La La Land star Emma Stone, who won Best Actress just before. “I opened the envelope and it said, ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look … I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
The pair’s reunion came nearly 50 years after they starred in Arthur Penn’s landmark, Oscar-winning biographical crime drama. “It’s a privilege for us to present the final award of the evening,” Dunaway said when they first took the stage. “The films we honor tonight inspired us, touched our emotions, gave us hope and joy, and they even have changed our thinking.”
Added Beatty, “I think it could be said that our goal in politics is the same as our goal in art and that’s to get to the truth. So that’s like in the movies that we honor tonight, that not only entertain us and move us, they show us the increasing diversity in our community and our respect for diversity and freedom all over the world.”
Upon its release, Bonnie and Clyde — based on the real-life exploits of the titular bank robbers who were killed by Texas officers in 1934 — was enthusiastically received by younger generations, though mainstream crowds (and movie critics) weren’t as impressed. Over time, passion for the film’s unorthodox elements built, and Bonnie and Clyde ultimately helped usher in Hollywood’s aesthetic and thematic countercultural revolution that would last through the 1980s, paving the way for films like Taxi Driver, American Graffiti, Easy Rider, and Midnight Cowboy well into the future.
Beatty has been nominated for 14 Academy Awards across contributions to the industry an actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. His first (and only) competitive win came in 1982 when he took best director for helming the historical war drama Reds; he also received the honorary Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 2000. The Hollywood legend’s most recent picture in front of (and behind) the camera, Rules Don’t Apply, generated minor traction on the 2016 awards race, earning recognition at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards.
For her performance in Bonnie and Clyde, Dunaway received her first Oscar nomination in 1968. She went on to score two additional nods for Chinatown and Network — the latter of which she would translate into a victory. Her career quieted in subsequent years, though she did have starring turns in films like Eyes of Laura Mars, Dunston Checks In, and the cult classic Mommie Dearest. In January, she appeared in her first major theatrical roles in years, playing a small part in the horror film The Bye Bye Man.