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The High Highs and Low Lows of Spike Lee’s Oscar Night

Best Adapted Screenplay winner for 'BlackKklansman' Spike Lee attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party following the 91st Academy Awards at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on February 24, 2019. (Photo by JB Lacroix / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JB LACROIX/AFP/Getty Images)
Spike Lee attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.
JB Lacroix/Getty Images

It was a historic night for filmmaker Spike Lee. Five nominations and one honorary Oscar later, Lee finally took home the gold statue for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film, BlacKkKlansman. His reaction was the best of the night, but the night was not entirely a happy one for the filmmaker, who was visibly upset when Green Book took home the Oscar for Best Picture.

When the winner was announced, Lee could reportedly be seen walking to the back of the theater, before realizing the doors wouldn’t be opened until the ceremony was over, heading back to his seat, and standing with his back to the stage during the acceptance speech.

At the press conference backstage, Lee was in good spirits, sipping on champagne—and sipping, and sipping again—as he was asked about his reaction to the Green Book win.

Lee’s Do the Right Thing was famously left off the list of Best Picture nominees the year Driving Miss Daisy won, a circumstance many observed seem to be repeating itself this year. “Every time somebody’s driving somebody, I lose,” Lee quipped.

Reporters continued to ask Lee about his thoughts on Green Book at the Vanity Fair Oscar party. Seeming weary of being asked about someone else’s win instead of his own, Lee was diplomatic this time, saying, “I’m not gonna trash the film.”

But just in case anyone was confused, Lee made it clear Green Book was not really his thing, and found a moment of joy in setting two interviewers up for his punchline.

Lee’s reaction is a familiar one, with many viewers and critics calling out Green Book for its problematic politics. After such a historic night for people of color, Green Book’s win was a hard one to celebrate.

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