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Could Spike Lee Be On The Verge Of Finally Winning An Oscar?

Of all the realistic outcomes of Oscar night, one of the most pleasing sights would be seeing Spike Lee on stage giving an acceptance speech. A five time Academy Award nominee (including three just this year), Lee is one of the highest profile filmmakers never to have been given a competitive statue. He has an Honorary Oscar, but it’s not the same. Up for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay (co-written with David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, and Kevin Willmott) for BlacKkKlansman, this is the best chance yet to see Lee get a moment in the sun. Can it happen? We’ll be discussing just that possibility next, so read on…

Last night, I attended An Evening With Spike Lee, highlighted by a conversation between Lee and Lawrence O’Donnell, followed by a screening of BlacKkKlansman. Lee knows how to entertain a crowd, so it’s worth noting that Academy members who saw him on the awards path all season could have feared witness to something similar over the past month or two. If so, it’s not hard to see voters being even more inclined to check off a box for him. In 1998, he was up for Best Documentary Feature for 4 Little Girls but fell short to The Long Way Home. Notably, in 1990, he was snubbed in Best Director for Do The Right Thing but got his first citation in Best Original Screenplay. Obviously, he did not win, with that prize going to Tom Schulman for Dead Poets Society instead. Now, however, it could be his time.

For those who need a reminder of what BlacKkKlansman is about, here you go: “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.”

So, will it happen? Best Picture isn’t happening, while Best Director would be a pretty big and unexpected upset. To that end, if it happens, it’ll be for Best Adapted Screenplay. Winning last weekend in that category at the BAFTA Awards is a real big step in the right direction. There’s some stiff competition, but at least for the moment, I’m one of the pundits predicting Lee to win that category. If so, he’d finally have that elusive Academy Award. It’s hardly a foregone conclusion, but the auteur has never been this close to a win before. Now, it’s just up to the Academy. What could go wrong?

The most likely outcome is hard to say, if we’re being honest. It’s about 50/50 whether or not Lee ends up with an Oscar, given that he’s almost assured of losing in two categories and the very mild frontrunner in the other. I wouldn’t be shocked if he lost, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Lee actually win. In fact, it would be an utter delight. This will be one of the big stories to keep an eye on in ten short days. For now, it’s just a waiting game. Voters have their ballots in hand right now, so the decisions are literally being made as you read this. Sit tight…

Stay tuned to see if Spike Lee takes home an Oscar on February 24th!

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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