Black Best Director Oscar Nominees
With “BlacKkKlansman” (2018), Spike Lee became only the sixth black filmmaker to receive a Best Director nomination at the Oscars. Which five auteurs managed to make the cut prior to him? Find out by taking a tour through our photo gallery.
The nomination is notable in how criminally overdue it is. Early in his career, he received a Golden Globe nomination for helming the controversial racial animosity drama “Do the Right Thing.” At the Oscars, Lee was omitted from the Best Director lineup in favor of Woody Allen (“Crimes and Misdemeanors”), Kenneth Branagh (“Henry V”), Jim Sheridan (“My Left Foot”), Peter Weir (“Dead Poets Society”), and the winner, Oliver Stone (“Born on the Fourth of July”). Lee did contend in Best Original Screenplay, losing to Tom Schulman (“Dead Poets Society”). Years later, he reaped a Best Documentary Feature nomination for “4 Little Girls” (1997), which was bested by “The Long Way Home.”
Lee entered the awards race in a big way with this true-life drama about an African American police officer (John David Washington) infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan. In addition to his directing bid, he also snagged nominations in Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, making him only the third black filmmaker in history to compete in all three categories. (The first was Jordan Peele for “Get Out” in 2017, who incidentally serves as a producer on Lee’s film.)
Surprisingly, no black filmmaker has ever won the Oscar for directing, despite Best Picture victories for “12 Years a Slave” (2013) and “Moonlight” (2016). So now that Lee is finally nominated, can he make history by snagging the Best Director prize?