Lee’s gotta have it! I will probably not be watching the Oscars this year, but I will probably be looking at updates on who is winning while the ceremony is going on. But the only way… THE ONLY WAY, you will have me turn on the television and watch the Oscar broadcast is if I hear Spike Lee win best director. That way I will be able to see the only person I am rooting for in this debacle of an awards season, get up and receive the honor he should’ve been given all the way back in 1989.
And let’s get this straight, awarding Lee this year is not a “Makeup Oscar” for he rightly deserves it. Blackkklansman is a hodgepodge of tone and style, it’s a 70s cop thriller, a political commentary, and a social satire all in one. In a lesser director’s hand, this whole mish mash of a construct would fall apart on itself, but in the self-assured confidence of Lee, he makes it work.
Now Cuaron pretty much has this award all wrapped up for him, and that’s good. I admire greatly what he did with Roma, a film which moves like a childhood memory with gorgeous black and white cinematography. I also won’t sneeze at Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War, who created such a wonderfully unique romance, which touched me tremendously.
Lee’s film is dramatically different and it’s difficult to compare any of these director’s accomplishments ( I mean in a perfect world we wouldn’t), but my vote would still go to him. The film weaves in and out from style to style, and is unpredictable where it will go next. Lee moves our emotions from one spectrum to another, and we see him playing with us like a punk rock Hitchcock on a piano. It’s an energy boost of righteousness going right into our hot-blooded outrage.
The one underlying thing that is constantly felt in Blackkklansman, is how we can feel the modern world seeping in. Yes it takes place in the 1970s, and it’s about a black cop who infiltrates the KKK with the help of his Jewish partner, but the film is not blunt about the parallels this story has with what is going on today. And Lee knows we’re not stupid, he’s deliberately drawing on these parallels, and he’s not being coy about it either – he’s practically rubbing it in our face.
Lee wants to light a flame under our seats, he wants us to get riled up, he wants us to feel something, he wants to wake us up. You do not feel apathy when you walk into a Spike Lee joint, what you feel is a call to arms, a fight against injustice, criminality, corruption, and pain. Lee’s been fighting this complicit behaviour all his life. His films are proactive battle cries, so it’s no wonder a mostly conservative stuffed shirt group like the Academy has been ignoring this man for years.
But the times are a changin’, when last year the Academy decided to bring in a more younger, diverse group into their membership, and people who probably remember being rattled when Do the Right Thing dropped like an A-bomb on Hollywood. It’s time Lee will not be ignored any longer, just the thought of his nomination should shake the cages of some people in the establishment and that’s a good thing.
It’s a crucial time in the world, and art should reflect what’s going on, we need the films which convey our outrage, the ones out there with the youthful message of making a difference. It’s now time to stand up and be counted, if we are to worship at the feet of a pointless awards show then give it to the man with enough guts to say “We will not take it anymore”. Give it to Spike Lee, and as he would “And that’s the truth, Ruth!”