'The ref made a bad call': Spike Lee wasn't happy about 'Green Book' winning best picture at the Oscars

  • Spike Lee said “Green Book” winning best picture at the Oscars was a “bad call.”
  • The movie has been controversial because of its approach to the real life of its main black character, and because of one of the screenwriter’s anti-Muslim remarks.
  • It’s also been accused of promoting “white saviourism.”
  • Lee compared the movie’s Oscar win to “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989, a similar movie about race relations. It was a contender the same year as Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.”

Spike Lee didn’t seem to happy when “Green Book” won best picture at the Oscars Sunday night. He didn’t join the applause when Julia Roberts read the movie’s name from her envelope on stage. And speaking to reporters after the event, he made it clear he thought it was the wrong choice.

“Next question,” he said, before continuing. “I thought I was courtside at the Garden and the ref made a bad call.”

Lee himself won best adapted screenplay for writing “BlacKkKlansman,” which he also directed and produced. The movie was nominated for best picture against “Green Book,” which won awards in both best supporting actor and best original screenplay categories.

“Green Book” was a controversial choice for Best Picture. The movie is based on a true story, about a white man who is hired to drive black musician Don Shirley through the south. But its writers didn’t seek input from members of Shirley’s family, who criticised it as a poor portrayal of Shirley’s life and whitewashed approach to race relations. One of the writers, Nick Vallelonga, was also criticised for a 2015 tweet supporting a false, anti-Muslim conspiracy theory from President Donald Trump that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated 9/11. Vallelonga has since apologised.

Lee compared the Oscar win to “Driving Miss Daisy” winning Best Picture in 1989. That year, “Do the Right Thing,” considered by many critics to be Lee’s best movie, didn’t make the cut.

“Every time someone is driving somebody I lose,” he said. “But in ’89 I didn’t get nominated, so.”

Asked later about “Green Book,” he said it “wasn’t my cup of tea.”

Lee reportedly made a fuss from the audience when “Green Book” won best picture, according to Associated Press reporter Andrews Dalton.

“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,” Dalton wrote on Twitter. “He returned to his seat when the speeches were over.”

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