×

Spike Lee Is Finally an Oscar Nominee for Best Picture and Director

After more than three decades of making films that have collectively established an undeniable cultural legacy, 61-year-old auteur Spike Lee is finally an Academy Award nominee for best picture and director.

It’s as noteworthy a headline as Tuesday’s Oscar nominations announcement is bound to produce. In fact, Lee’s original screenplay notice for the 1989 lightning rod “Do the Right Thing,” which will celebrate its 30th anniversary this summer, and a bid for the 1997 documentary “4 Little Girls,” remained his only Oscar nominations to date until this morning, when he picked up three for “BlacKkKlansman.”

The Academy somewhat rectified the years of oversight for landmark achievements like “Malcolm X” and “25th Hour” (considered by some to be one of the very best films of its decade) with an Honorary Oscar in 2015, but Lee’s bids for directing and producing his latest are obviously a long time coming.

For the prolific filmmaker, who also continues to work in the documentary space and adapted his 1987 debut film “She’s Gotta Have It” for the small screen in 2017, the Oscar arena has felt out of reach for so long he had squared himself with it. “After what happened with ‘Do the Right Thing,’ I just had to let it go and just be at peace with knowing that the great work is going to outlast awards,” Lee told Variety‘s “Playback” podcast in October. “Do the Right Thing” was notoriously passed over in a number of categories, including best picture, where “Driving Miss Daisy” reigned.

“People are still shocked to this day that ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ won best picture,” Lee continued. “Who’s watching that film now? So, I’m at peace with it.”

Nevertheless, better late than never.

Lee is the sixth black filmmaker to be Oscar-nominated for directing, after John Singleton (“Boyz N the Hood”), Lee Daniels (“Precious”), Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”), Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), and Jordan Peele (“Get Out”). He’s also the 11th black producer to be nominated for best picture, and the first black writer to be nominated a second time for screenplay. No black filmmaker has ever won best director.

Other nominations for “BlacKkKlansman” included supporting actor (Adam Driver), film editing, and original score.

Other films in the mix for best picture this year include “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite,” “Green Book,” “Roma,” “A Star Is Born” and “Vice.”

Related: 

More Film

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    Why Emma Stone Was Haunted by Fear of Vomiting While Shooting 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

    SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains a slight spoiler for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” The zombie slayers are back! Ten years after Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin first killed dead people walking in “Zombieland,” they’ve reunited for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” “You take stock of your life a little bit,” Stone says of [...]

  • Hereditary

    The Best Horror Films to Stream Right Now

    Good horror movies aren’t always easy to scare up, but with Halloween on the horizon, Variety has compiled a list of some of the best horror films available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. NETFLIX Apostle Cult horror meets religious hypocrisy in this creepy gothic thriller, which follows prodigal son Thomas Richardson, who returns home [...]

  • Brett Gelman

    'Stranger Things' Star Brett Gelman Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse'

    Brett Gelman, best known for his scene-stealing roles in “Fleabag,” “Stranger Things” and “Love,” has joined Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of Tom Clancy’s “Without Remorse.” Jamie Bell and Jodie Turner-Smith are also on board. Jordan is starring as operations officer John Clark, also known as John Terrence Kelly, a former Navy SEAL who [...]

  • US director Francis Ford Coppola holds

    Francis Ford Coppola Honored With Prestigious Lumiere Prize by Thierry Fremaux, Bong Joon Ho

    Francis Ford Coppola took the stage to claim the Lumière Festival’s lifetime achievement honor, the Lumière Prize, in a stirring celebration that marked the festival’s 10th edition on Friday night in Lyon, France. The four-time Academy Award winner accepted the prize after a series of video tributes, musical performances and testimonials from family, friends and [...]

  • 'Human Capital' Sells to Vertical Entertainment,

    Liev Schreiber, Maya Hawke's 'Human Capital' Sells Rights to DirecTV, Vertical Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV have jointly acquired the North American distribution rights to “Human Capital,” an official selection of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival from director Marc Meyers. The film stars Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, and Maya Hawke. The ensemble drama follows numerous interconnected stories surrounding a hit and run, [...]

  • Robert Zemeckis

    Robert Zemeckis in Talks to Direct Live-Action 'Pinocchio' for Disney (EXCLUSIVE)

    Robert Zemeckis is in early talks to direct Disney’s live-action “Pinocchio.” Andrew Miano and Chris Weitz will produce through their company Depth of Field with Weitz penning the script. “Paddington” director Paul King had originally been tapped to direct but had to leave the project for unknown reasons at the beginning of the year. David [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content