Oscars 2019: Spike Lee unhappy with ‘Green Book’ Oscar win, says Academy made “bad call”
American film director Spike Lee was unhappy with ‘Green Book’s’ best picture win at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony.
When ‘Green Book’ received the award, Lee, whose film ‘BlacKkKlansman’ was also nominated in the same category, was visibly upset. He tried to leave the ceremony before the speeches had concluded and later explained backstage why he was upset, reported The Hollywood Reporter.
In the press room, Lee recalled the time that his film titled ‘Do The Right Thing’ didn’t get a best picture nomination in 1989, the year that ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ won.
"This is my sixth glass and you know why. I'm snake-bit. Every time someone is driving somebody I lose. But in '89 I didn’t get nominated, so,” he told the reporters, while holding a glass of champagne.
When he heard that ‘Green Book’ was being awarded for best picture, Lee said, "I thought I was courtside at the Garden and the ref made a bad call."
Despite years of breakthrough work, Lee has never been nominated for an Oscar until this year.
‘Green Book’ narrates the true story of pianist Dr. Don Shirley played by Mahershala Ali and his white driver Tony "Lip" Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) as they embark on a concert tour through the Deep South.
The backlash appeared to be in response to the controversy, surrounding the film. The film had been criticised for perpetuating a white saviour narrative. The film was also involved in a controversy regarding the family members of Dr. Shirley, on whom the film was based on.
Earlier, Dr. Shirley’s nephew, Edwin Shirley III, and brother, Maurice Shirley had openly criticised the film, calling its portrayal of Dr. Don Shirley a “Symphony of Lies” – a statement that film star Viggo Mortensen called “unjustified” and “unfair.”
Additionally, writer and producer Nick Vallelonga also faced backlash when a 2015 anti-Muslim tweet resurfaced in which he agreed with Donald Trump's claim that Muslims in Jersey City cheered when the World Trade Center towers came down on 9/11. However, he later apologised for the tweet and even avoided public appearances for the remainder of awards season.
The film's director, Peter Farrelly, also faced criticism for a resurfaced 1998 Newsweek article that described how he used to flash his genitals as a joke, something for which he later apologised.