It was deja vu for Spike Lee at the Oscars. The filmmaker, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman,” was, well, less than thrilled when “Green Book” won Best Picture on Sunday. In the press room backstage, with a glass of champagne in hand, he vented his frustration and spoke about “Green Book” for the first time this season (watch above).
“This is my sixth glass [of champagne] and you know why. I’m snake-bit. Every time somebody is driving somebody, I lose! But in ’89 I didn’t get nominated, so,” Lee said, referring to “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989) winning Best Picture the year his seminal “Do the Right Thing” wasn’t even nominated.
“Green Book,” of course, has been compared to “Driving Miss Daisy”: two gentle race dramedies featuring a black person and a white person in car. Neither film received a directing nomination either. During awards season, when asked about “Green Book,” which was widely criticized for its throwback handling of race relations and for perpetuating the White Savior stereotype (Seth Meyers just mocked this), Lee repeatedly declined to comment, saying he won’t speak about the other nominees. “I had a talk with my wife and we’re not speaking about no other films, particularly that one,” he told Leslie Stahl on “CBS This Morning.”
Lee was seen waving his arms and trying to leave the Dolby Theatre, according to those in attendance, but was asked to remain until the speeches were over.
Spike Lee was visibly angry when "Green Book" was announced as the winner of best picture at the Oscars, waving his arms in disgust and appearing to try to storm out of the Dolby Theatre before he was stopped at the doors. He returned to his seat when the speeches were over.
— Andrew Dalton (@andyjamesdalton) February 25, 2019
So now that it’s all over, how do you really feel, Spike? “I thought I was courtside at the [Madison Square] Garden and the ref made a bad call,” he said of the moment he heard “Green Book” being announced as the winner.
Lee did give props to former academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs for aggressively diversifying its membership in recent years in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, which he credits for his first competitive win (he has an honorary award as well). “Without April Reign [creator of #OscarsSoWhite] and the former president of the Academy I wouldn’t be here tonight. They opened up The Academy. Three black women won Oscars,” he said, referring to wins for Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) and “Black Panther” costume and production designers Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler. Carter and Beachler are the first black winners of their respective categories.
And he does have a lot to celebrate between his victory, which was presented by his pal Samuel L. Jackson, and his beloved New York Knicks winning Sunday night. “Samuel L. Jackson and I went to the same college. I have known Sam from way, way back,” he said. “To have him open up the envelope and say my name it was a great thing. Did I jump up on him? That was a genuine reaction.”