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Al Pacino Says Awkward Best Picture Delivery Was “a Choice by Producers”

Al Pacino’s unconventional delivery of the 2024 Oscars’ best picture winner Sunday night had some people in the audience wondering if the Godfather star was winging it with Oscar tradition, but Pacino says he was largely following the Academy’s own script.

“There seems to be some controversy about my not mentioning every film by name last night before announcing the best picture award,” Pacino said in a statement issued Monday. “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.  I was honored to be a part of the evening and chose to follow the way they wished for this award to be presented.

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

During the show, Pacino announced the winner of the biggest award of the night by saying, “Ten wonderful films were nominated, but only one will take the award for best picture.” He did not announce all the films in the category, instead going directly to the envelope, which felt hurried and a little anticlimactic to some. “I have to go to the envelope for that, and I will,” Pacino said on the telecast. “Here it comes. And my eyes see Oppenheimer. Yes. Yes.”

Throughout the night, the Academy had been paying tribute to the individual best picture nominees with video clips, and producers felt that those presentations had sufficiently done the job of acknowledging the films. In the interest of keeping the show from running long, Oscars producer Molly McNearney told Variety that, “We did not give [Pacino] a clip package. We did not give him nominations to read. I apologize if our decision to not have to read through all those nominations put him in a tough spot.”

Up until Tuesday, Pacino had been scheduled to co-present best picture with his Scarface co-star Michelle Pfeiffer, but Pfeiffer ended up staying in New York for a family matter, according to multiple sources. At Oscar rehearsals at the Dolby Theatre on Saturday, Pacino practiced his delivery solo, without the nominees’ names, as he would do on the telecast, according to a source who was at rehearsals.

After the ceremony, Academy chief executive Bill Kramer praised Pacino’s delivery to The New York Times. “Everything went beautifully,” Kramer said. “He was just having fun up there.”

The hubbub over Pacino’s Oscar night delivery overshadowed another piece of news the actor made on Monday, the announcement that his memoir, Sonny Boy, will be published this fall by Penguin Press. On that text, at least, Pacino’s got the last say.

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