Spike Lee Leads Condemnation of Best-Film Choice

More than one critic calling 'Green Book' the worst choice for best picture since 'Crash'
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2019 6:19 AM CST
Surprise Win by Green Book Is Not Going Over Well
Peter Farrelly, center, and the cast and crew of "Green Book" accept the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Green Book had a great night at the Oscars, taking home best picture, best original screenplay, and best supporting actor (Mahershala Ali). The morning after, however, things are a little less great, because all that glory and attention is bringing out the critics who think the movie should not have won best picture. For those unfamiliar, director Peter Farrelly's Green Book is about a black jazz pianist who hires a white driver (Viggo Mortensen) to take him through the Deep South. Watch the trailer here. Some reaction:

  • Spike Lee: "I thought I was court-side at the Garden," he said. "The ref made a bad call.” Lee's Do the Right Thing famously lost to Driving Miss Daisy in 1989. “I’m snake-bit. Every time someone’s driving somebody I lose," said Lee, whose BlackKkKlansman was nominated. Lee also was "clearly furious" right after the announcement, notes Deadline. (Lee did win another Oscar on Sunday night, his first.)
  • Scathing: It's the worst winner since Crash in 2005 and just plain "embarrassing," writes film critic Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times. "Insultingly glib and hucksterish," the movie "reduces the long, barbaric and ongoing history of American racism to a problem, a formula, a dramatic equation that can be balanced and solved."

  • Similar theme: “Remember that this is the same organization that gave its top honor to ‘Crash’ – so not surprising but still, f--- it,” tweeted movie critic Manohla Dargis of the New York Times.
  • A shared slam: This tweet from NBC political reporter Alex Seitz-Wald was in wide circulation: "Some of Green Book’s best friends are black movies."
  • Bad surprise: It just "felt really wrong," writes Brian Truitt at USA Today. "It's a head-scratcher of a choice when sitting right there in the category were 'Black Panther,' the blockbuster Marvel superhero movie that was a humongous, game-changing win for black representation, and Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman,' which depicted a racist past that mirrors our current tumultuous times."
  • Past reviews: In light of the controversy, Mashable rounds up some of the slams the movie received from reviewers. Included is this line from Matt Goldberg of Collider: "It hides in warm, fuzzy feelings that haven’t been earned and lessons that haven’t been learned. I’d rather a movie made me feel bad for a good cause than feel good for a bad cause."
  • Other controversy: The film won despite director Farrelly apologizing for his habit of flashing his penis years ago on movie sets and after anti-Muslim tweets surfaced from screenwriter Nick Vallelonga. Variety has the details.
(Read more Oscars stories.)

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