Oscars 2024: Al Pacino defends Oppenheimer Best Picture moment

Heat star Al Pacino has released a statement defending how he unveiled the Best Picture winner at this year's Academy Awards following a backlash over how he did it.

Usually, the nominees are read out prior to the big moment as the climax of the Oscars ceremony.

However, on Monday afternoon (NZT), Pacino left viewers shocked by simply opening the envelope and saying unusually: "My eyes see Oppenheimer." 

A stunned silence filled the Dolby Theatre auditorium amid concerns Pacino had messed up the award - but seconds later he held up the piece of paper from the Academy, which had the details of the winner on.

Since then, many have criticised the Scent of a Woman star for how he announced the winner and questioned what happened.

On Tuesday (NZT), Pacino issued a statement to Variety magazine, saying he did not mean to disrespect the other nominees by not naming them.

"There seems to be some controversy about my not mentioning every film by name last night before announcing the Best Picture award," he said.

"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 honoured to be a part of the evening and chose to follow the way they wished for this award to be presented."

Pacino's explanation was backed up by the show's producers who said they had been worried the show was already overrunning.

Oscars show producer Molly McNearney said it was a creative decision.

"By the time you get to the end of the show, you've seen all 10 best picture clip packages. People just want to hear who wins, and they're pretty ready for the show to be over," she said.

"At least that's what we anticipated. So, we did not give him a clip package. We did not give him nominations to read. I apologise if our decision to not have to read through all those nominations put him in a tough spot."

In 2017, the Academy was embroiled in a row when the Best Picture winner was incorrectly revealed after presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were handed the wrong envelope.

Instead of announcing that Moonlight had won the Best Picture, they wrongfully declared La La Land had taken the top prize.

"The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected," financial services firm Pricewaterhousecoopers said in a statement at the time. "We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred."