UPDATED with details from backstage: While he didn’t take the stage like Kanye West did years ago on the MTV Video Music Awards when Taylor Swift won an award that he felt should have gone to Beyoncé, BlacKkKlansman director Spike Lee did the next best thing when the Best Picture Oscar was won by Green Book.
Our Pete Hammond reported from the Dolby Theatre that Lee clearly was furious, got up and walked toward the back of the auditorium in a huff. He then turned back and appeared to get into an intense conversation with Jordan Peele, who was behind him. Lee paced the aisle and stormed to the back of the auditorium. When he came back, he turned his back to the stage during the speech.
In a recent appearance he made on CBS Sunday Morning to promote his Best Picture candidate, Lee recalled the time that Do the Right Thing didn’t get a Best Picture nomination for 1989, the year that Driving Miss Daisy won. At that time, he said he wasn’t commenting on Green Book but might have something to say if that film won. Don’t be surprised if microphones follow him everywhere. Awkward moment for Universal, which released Green Book, and whose Focus Features released BlacKkKlansman.
Lee finally won the first Oscar of his long career, sharing Best Adapted Screenplay with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmot. He got skunked in the Best Director category when Alfonso Cuarón won, but didn’t get out of his chair for that one. It is unlikely that Lee’s classless outburst was simply sour grapes for not winning. This was about the undercurrent that seemed to follow Green Book through much of the race. It did seem hypocritical of Lee, whose Oscar speech emphasized choosing love over hate, when speaking about President Trump and the 2020 presidential elections.
Asked backstage at the Dolby Theatre if his Adapted Screenplay win makes up for Do the Right Thing loss at the 1990 Oscars and the Academy overlooking it for a Best Picture nomination, Lee quipped in reference to that year’s Driving Miss Daisy Best Picture win and this year’s Green Book Oscar in the top category: “I’m snake bit. Every time somebody is driving somebody, I lose – but they changed the seating arrangement!”