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The most coveted award of the Oscars has descended into bedlam, with La La Land mistakenly named the Best Picture winner, instead of Moonlight.

The cast and crew of the celebrated musical, widely tipped to claim the top honour, took to the stage and began accepting the award before being interrupted with the words no Oscar winner wants to hear: "I'm sorry, there's a mistake."

Presenter Warren Beatty, who fumbled with the card for a long time before announcing the winner, had read the wrong name.

"I opened the envelope and it said 'Emma Stone, La La Land'. I wasn't trying to be funny," he said.

Host Jimmy Kimmel tried to put the spotlight on the silver lining.

"I don't know what happened. I blame myself for this. Let's remember it's just an awards show," he said.

"I mean, we hate to see people disappointed. But the good news is we got to see some extra speeches."

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