Spike Lee was not pleased with “Green Book” winning best picture. The “BlacKkKlansman” writer-director was sipping champagne backstage at the Academy Awards, where he won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay. But he had some choice words for “Green Book” which beat his film out for best picture.
“I thought I was court-side at the Garden,” he said. “The ref made a bad call.”
Lee has some history here. His 1989 film “Do The Right Thing” was not nominated for best picture the year “Driving Miss Daisy” won the best picture Oscar. The comedy drama dealt with a wealthy white woman (Jessica Tandy) learning from her black chauffeur (Morgan Freeman).
Director Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” focuses on a black jazz pianist (played by Mahershala Ali) who hires white driver and bodyguard (Viggo Mortensen) to drive through the deep South. The drama-comedy won three Oscars, including best actor for Ali, best original screenplay and best picture.
“I’m snake-bit. Every time someone’s driving somebody I lose. They changed the seating arrangement,” said Lee. “But in ‘89, I didn’t get nominated (for best picture). But this one we did.”
The animated Lee gave respect to the diversity in the Oscar show, which saw his first non-honorary Oscar win. He paid respect to April Reign, who started the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag that went viral after 2017’s nominations, and former academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who was key to expanding the Academy membership to make it more diverse.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be here tonight,” said Lee. “They opened up the academy to make it more like America, to make it more diverse.”
Image: Spike Lee attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball with his Oscar for best adapted screenplay.