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“BlacKkKlansman” – Adam Driver, Spike Lee, and John David Washington: Hollywood Film Tribute

Today we are recognizing BlacKkKlansman, as well as co-writer/director Spike Lee, plus co-stars Adam Driver and John David Washington. Our Hollywood Film Tributes recognize films and talent for their excellence in the art of filmmaking.

One of the awards season’s most consistent players, BlacKkKlansman is a timely film that deserves to be recognized for the masterwork from Spike Lee that it is. Lee arguably has made one of his best movies ever here, while Driver and Washington are nomination worthy. It’s one of 2018’s best, plain and simple…

From our rave review back in the summer:

Spike Lee is not a subtle filmmaker. Sometimes, the stick of dynamite works better than the scalpel. Other times? Not so much. That’s sort of been the hallmark of his career, and in particular, the last handful of years. Well, this week, Lee is back with a vengeance, as he’s got one of his best movies to date coming out. The film in question is BlacKkKlansman, a piece of vital cinema that stands tall among anything else the auteur has done. Not only is it one of Lee’s best, it’s one of the year’s best as well, in addition to being a major Oscar player. This is something special folks.

Based on an incredible true story, the movie centers on Colorado Springs Police Officer Ron Stallworth (John David Washington). Teamed with partner Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), they would go undercover and take down the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Initially, Ron calls up the Klan on a whim, but Walter (Ryan Eggold) is so taken by him, before long, Flip (standing in for Ron), is immersed in their activities. Walter, and later David Duke (Topher Grace) love “Ron” unabashedly, though Felix (Jasper Pääkkönen) is suspicious. As Flip struggles with the hate he hears on a daily basis, as well as his Jewish faith, Ron tries to pursue the case, while dealing with racism, along with a courtship of radical student Patrice (Laura Harrier). It’s suspenseful, exciting, and often hilarious, though with a poignantly sad ending. Lee directs and co-writes the adaptation of Stallworth’s book with David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, and Kevin Willmott. The top notch supporting cast includes the likes of Ashlie Atkinson, Alec Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Robert John Burke, Ken Garito, Corey Hawkins, Paul Walter Hauser, Frederick Weller, and Isiah Whitlock Jr. Terence Blanchard again provides Lee with a score, while the cinematography here is by Chayse Irvin. Jason Blum and Jordan Peele are among the producers.

This is Lee at the height of his crowd pleasing abilities. At times, this is among the funniest films of 2018. At other times, it’s righteously angry. The mixture is messy, but pretty much spot on. A frequent target here, both literally and figuratively, is Donald Trump, so as much as this is a period piece, there are plenty of modern equivalencies to be found as well. His filmmaking is inspired, while Driver and Washington give two subtle yet moving performances. Not only is this almost certainly going to be a big financial hit, it could also really do some Academy Award damage. Yes, the movie is that good.

In terms of awards, BlacKkKlansman could be an across the board contender. Look for Focus Features to campaign it in Best Picture, Best Director (for Lee), Best Actor (for Washington), Best Supporting Actor (for Driver, Grace, and/or Pääkkönen), Best Supporting Actress (for Harrier), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Lee, Rabinowitz, Wachtel, and Willmott), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, and Best Original Score. At the moment, it seems like the film could really be a force in Picture, Director for Lee, Adapted Screenplay for Lee, Rabinowitz, Wachtel, and Willmott, Film Editing, and Original Score. Voters may very well embrace this one in a big way.

Photos Courtesy Focus Features

Hollywood Film Tributes recognizing films and talent for their excellence in the art of filmmaking.
Editors: Carlos de Abreu and Joey Magidson [Tomatometer-approved critic]
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CRITERIA: HOLLYWOOD FILM TRIBUTES are based on multiple elements that are taken into consideration including award events and consultations with industry insiders (agents, managers, journalists, awards strategists, filmmakers, awards voters, producers, studio execs).

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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