Al Pacino responds to Oscars controversy after breaking from tradition at the ceremony

Al Pacino’s appearance at the Oscars to announce Best Picture caused controversy, as he broke from tradition and didn’t announce the nominees before revealing Oppenheimer’s victory.

Now, the actor, 83 – who previously won an Oscar in 1992 for Scent of a Woman – has spoken out about the controversial moment.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 10: Al Pacino speaks onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)© Kevin Winter
Al Pacino announced Best Picture at the Oscars

“There seems to be some controversy about my not mentioning every film by name last night before announcing the best picture award,” Al observed in a statement in Variety.

“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.” 

The star added that he was: “honored to be a part of the evening and chose to follow the way they wished for this award to be presented.”

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

THE OSCARS - The 96th Oscars held on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood and televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide. (Stewart Cook/Disney via Getty Images)AL PACINO© Stewart Cook
Al at the Oscars

“I say this as someone who profoundly relates with filmmakers, actors and producers so I deeply empathize with those who have been slighted by this oversight and it’s why I felt it necessary to make this statement.”

Already, Al’s appearance was arguably unconventional, as he forewent the classic phrase, ‘And the Oscar goes to’, opting for a more improvised announcement.

(L-R) US and presenter Actor Al Pacino, British filmmaker Christopher Nolan (also Best Director), British film producer Emma Thomas, and US film producer Charles Roven, pose in the press room with the Oscar for Best Picture for "Oppenheimer" during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 10, 2024. (Photo by Robyn BECK / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)© ROBYN BECK
Al catches up with the Oppenheimer team in the press room

“Well, this is the time for the last award of the evening. It’s my honor to present it. Ten wonderful films were nominated, but only one will take the award for Best Picture,” he said.

“I have to go to the envelope for that. And I will. Here it comes. My eyes see Oppenheimer.

At first, people didn’t seem to realize that Al had announced the winner until the music started to play. 

Even host Jimmy Kimmel joked with Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos in a backstage interview: “I guess [Pacino’s] never watched an awards show before? Seems like everyone in America knows the rhythm of how it’s supposed to go, down to the ‘And the Oscar goes to…'”

Oscars producer Molly McNearney confirmed Al’s statement, telling Variety that “it was a creative decision” not to have Al list all 10 best picture nominees before announcing the winner. 

She added that the creative team was “very worried that the show was going to be long”, and they had included clips of the the films throughout the show

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