After much controversy, the hostless Oscars went ahead last night without much of a hitch. Coming in at just over three hours, the ceremony itself was surprisingly smooth, flowing fast so that half the awards were already handed out by the 90-minute mark – something the Academy hasn’t been able to do in a long time.
Several wins were widely lauded from Spike Lee finally getting a long overdue Oscar to Olivia Colman’s hilariously genuine acceptance speech for Best Actress, but the talk in the wake of the end of the awards has all been about one thing – the selection of “Green Book” for Best Picture and the subsequent reaction to it.
Within two hours of the award being handed out, numerous articles went up proclaiming it to be the worst selection for Best Picture since “Crash” in 2005. This year’s Best Picture race was wide open with “Roma” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” also major contenders as that pair snagged multiple awards in other categories, with “Green Book” considered a ‘safe choice’ even with the controversy surrounding its treatment of both its subjects along with its handling of racial issues.
No-one however was more upset about it than “BlacKkKlansman” director Spike Lee. In 1990, Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” was famously overlooked for even a nomination with “Driving Miss Daisy” ultimately taking the gong over not just Lee’s film but others like “Dead Poets Society,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Field of Dreams” and “My Left Foot”.
While “BlacKkKlansman” was a long shot to win Best Picture, his being shut out for a road movie – one heavily criticised for its antiquated and clumsy approach to the topic of racism like ‘Miss Daisy’ was – must have felt like history repeating. Deadline reports that after presenter Julia Roberts announced “Green Book” as the winner, Lee appeared visibly angry and attempted to walk to the back of the auditorium. After an “intense conversation with Jordan Peele” who was behind him, he returned to his seat but turned his back on the stage.
After the ceremony, Lee was asked backstage in a press conference if his win for the “BlacKkKlansman” script makes up for the “Do the Right Thing” overlook to which he responded: “I’m snake bit. Every time somebody is driving somebody, I lose – but they changed the seating arrangement!”. He was then asked for a response to the “Green Book” victory to which he said: “Let me take another sip…. NEXT QUESTION.”
Even though he wasn’t mentioned by name during the ceremony last night, U.S. President Donald Trump responded to Lee’s awards speech which called on people to ‘mobilise’ for the 2020 election. Trump sent out the tweet: “Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!.”