The day after Oscar's craziest, shocking moment ever, questions still linger about why "La La Land" was announced best picture when "Moonlight" was the true winner.

L.A. Times' film critic Justin Chang comes to the conclusion that the two movies' fortunes were inextricable and the you-couldn’t-have-scripted-it finale oddly enough made sense.

If the L.A. Times hadn't broken an embargo in 1940, the Oscars envelope mix-up might have never happened

The 12th Academy Awards made history for a number of reasons.

The ceremony honored the films of 1939, a year considered by many to have produced some of the greatest movies of all time. Among the nominated works:

  • “Wuthering Heights”
  • “The Wizard of Oz”
  • “Goodbye Mr. Chips”
  • "Gone with the Wind
  • "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"

Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an acting award, for her role in “Gone with the Wind.” And Judy Garland was officially introduced to her Hollywood peers when she won the academy’s Juvenile Award for "The Wizard of Oz."

It was also the last Oscars ceremony for which the names of winners were released to the press, or anyone for that matter, before the onstage announcement.

Why did they turn to a secret system? 

You have the Los Angeles Times to thank for that. The academy's official history lays blame on The Times for breaking an embargo and publishing the winners in the paper's evening edition before the ceremony was underway. Think of it as the era's equivalent of a tweet that scooped everyone else.

As the academy's website says, the premature publication took place "much to the Academy’s dismay" and made the winners list "readily available to guests arriving for the event."

Not much suspense there. And this is an industry that knows not to give away an ending.

The next year, the top-secret winners envelopes -- like the one that went awry at this year's Oscars -- were put into action. The Times' report on the new system (see the clip here) pronounced it pretentious.

"No vestige of an authoritative pre-release was vouchsafed while the roll call of honorees went on until the midnight hour," the paper said. 

The details about how "La La Land" won, then lost, the best picture award to "Moonlight," are still being sorted. But the consensus is that it started when presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope.

 (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

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