- “Green Book” took home the Oscar for best picture on Sunday night.
- It was a controversial pick, as the movie dealt with bad press through awards season.
- Controversies included an anti-Muslim tweet by one of its screenwriters and the questioning of its portrayal of real-life events.
- Despite that, along with the Oscar for best picture the movie also won best original screenplay, and its star Mahershala Ali won for best supporting actor.
Universal’s “Green Book” took home the Oscar for best picture at the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday night, and that’s not sitting well for many.
Though the movie was a frontrunner through most of awards season, it weathered many controversies leading up to Hollywood’s biggest night.
Days after the movie won two Golden Globes, including one for best comedy or musical, one of the movie’s screenwriters,Nick Vallelonga, deleted his Twitter account after a 2015 tweet resurfaced in which Vallelonga replied to a claim by Donald Trump that “thousands of people” were cheering in Jersey City, New Jersey, after the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001.
“100% correct. Muslims in Jersey City cheering when towers went down. I saw it, as you did, possibly on local CBS news,” Vallelonga tweeted.
Numerous media outlets debunked that claim in 2015.
And the movie’s director, Peter Farrelly, came under fire after the Globes when stories from 1998 resurfaced of the director – who is best known for making gross-out comedies like “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary” – flashing his genitals in front of colleagues.
“I was an idiot,” Farrelly told The Hollywood Reporter after the resurfaced stories came out. “I did this decades ago and I thought I was being funny and the truth is I’m embarrassed and it makes me cringe now. I’m deeply sorry.”
There were also knocks about the movie on how it portrayed the real-life events it’s based on.
“Green Book” tells the true story of Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), an Italian-American bouncer at clubs in New York City who took a job driving the African-American musician Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) during a tour through the Deep South in the 1960s.
Multiple family members of Shirley’s have said the movie misrepresents him. Both Vallelonga and Shirley died in 2013. Nick Vallelonga is Tony Vallelonga’s son.
“They decided to make Don Shirley estranged from his black family, though that was not true,” Yvonne Shirley, Shirley’s great niece, told The Hollywood Reporter. “They decided to make him absurdly disconnected from black community and culture, though that was not true. They decided to depict him as having spent his formative years in Europe, though he spent them in the Deep South where he was born and raised. They decided to create a story of a white man’s redemption and self-realisation using an extraordinary black life and a history of black oppression in this country as their backdrop.”
Nick Vallelonga told The Hollywood Reporter that he interviewed both his father and Shirley in the 1980s for research. He said Shirley requested had requested that a script focus only on Shirley and Vallelonga’s relationship, that the younger Vallelonga not interview anyone else, and that the movie not be released during Shirley’s lifetime.
These controversies led many to speak out against the film on social media throughout the rest of awards season. And there was even some shade thrown at the movie on Oscar night.
Those looking closely could see the presenter Samuel L. Jackson giving a puzzled look when opening the envelope for best original screenplay and seeing “Green Book” was the winner.
— Ryan Aguirre (@aguirreryan) February 25, 2019
He then gave the side eye to the “Green Book” screenwriter Brian Hayes Currie when handing him his Oscar.
Samuel L. Jackson giving an Oscar to Green Book / Samuel L. Jackson giving an Oscar to Spike Lee pic.twitter.com/5S3YGENfSw
— Mark (@tole_cover) February 25, 2019
Despite all the negative press leading up to Oscar night, “Green Book” came out on top.
It won best picture and best original screenplay, while its star Ali picked up the Oscar for best supporting actor.
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