Oscars whodunit: Which accountant screwed up the 'Moonlight' win?

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PricewaterhouseCoopers representatives Martha L. Ruiz and Brian Cullinan arrive at the 89th Annual Academy Awards with the results envelopes.PricewaterhouseCoopers representatives Martha L. Ruiz and Brian Cullinan arrive at the 89th Annual Academy Awards with the results envelopes.

Image: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

2016%2f09%2f16%2ff7%2fhttpsd2mhye01h4nj2n.cloudfront.netmediazgkymde1lza1.7d00bBy Josh Dickey2017-02-27 20:46:38 UTC

And then there were two.

We got some clarity late Sunday night as to exactly how La La Land was announced as Best Picture when it was really Moonlight's prize to win: Someone from Pricewaterhousecoopers — which has had this Academy Awards gig for more than 80 years now — handed presenter Warren Beatty the wrong envelope.

That narrows it down to two suspects. And as of publication, only these two individuals know who did the deed. 

On one side of the stage was Brian Cullinan, Chairman of PwC’s U.S. Board, taking part in his fourth Oscars. On the other was his colleague Martha L. Ruiz, now participating in her third Academy Awards.

Each held a briefcase with identical sets of envelopes, each tasked with handing the presenters — depending on what side of the stage they were coming from — the appropriate envelope for the award being presented. And each knows (and memorizes) the winners in advance to guard against shenanigans.

As we now know, sealed inside Beatty's envelope was the duplicate card featuring Emma Stone's name, who had accepted the Best Actress award just moments before. Beatty got visibly flustered and deferred to co-presenter Faye Dunaway, who saw the words "La La Land" on the card and blurted it out.

Pricewaterhousecoopers accountants Brian Cullinan (center) and Martha Ruiz (right) try to straighten this out.

Pricewaterhousecoopers accountants Brian Cullinan (center) and Martha Ruiz (right) try to straighten this out.

Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The confusion that ensued included Beatty's on-stage explanation, Stone's backstage questioning of that explanation and, finally, a late-night statement from Pricewaterhousecoopers ultimately claiming responsibility.

Not to get too forensic about this, but ... there's still a missing piece of this whodunit. And that's, well ... who actually done it? Was it Cullinan or Ruiz? And what might have caused the culprit to fumble the hand-off?

ABC/Disney, which distributed the PwC mea culpa statement, did not immediately respond to requests for clarity. Neither did a PwC rep immediately return calls and emails.

Given the nuclear-launch-code secrecy that surrounds the Academy Awards' voting process, this might be one mystery that — like the identity of the winners before the envelopes are opened — that stays with exactly two people.

The truth is out there.

Cullinan and Ruiz -- or Mulder and Scully? -- at the 2016 Oscars.

Cullinan and Ruiz — or Mulder and Scully? — at the 2016 Oscars.

Image: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Topics: Entertainment, envelope, Movies, la la land, moonlight, oscars 2017

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