In his long and internationally celebrated film career, director Spike Lee has never, ever been nominated for the Best Director Oscar. If he does not get a Best Director Oscar nomination for BlacKkKlansman, there is seriously something wrong with the Academy. This is one of the top films of 2018 and one of the best films of his career.
And you did read that correctly. Spike Lee directed DO THE RIGHT THING (1989), JUNGLE FEVER (1991), MALCOLM X (1992), the documentary 4 LITTLE GIRLS (1997), SUMMER OF SAM (1999), and INSIDE MAN (2006)…to name of few of his joints (productions). He's directed actors to Oscar nominations -- Denzel Washington for MALCOLM X and Danny Aiello for DO THE RIGHT THING. He's acted in films he directed and co-wrote -- SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT, DO THE RIGHT THING and MALCOLM X, for example.
But unlike actor/directors such as Woody Allen, Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson, Spike Lee has never, ever received an Oscar nomination for Best Director. The Academy bestowed him with an honorary Oscar.
You'll be disturbed to feel that the racist poison the cops try to stop in the 1970s has surfaced and spilled out again in modern-day America. In the movie, we know that it's not like DR. STRANGELOVE, FAIL-SAFE or SEVEN DAYS IN MAY. It's not a case of "it could happen here." The last ten minutes slap us hard in the face with the grim American reality that it did happen here just a year ago. Spike Lee holds a mirror up to this age of "Make America Great Again."
BlacKkKlansman should get the following Oscar nominations come January:
Spike Lee for Best Director
Best Adapted Screenplay
Adam Driver for Best Supporting Actor.
It's an account of alternate history if the South had won the Civil War. This "documentary" is done by a British TV crew and aired on a Northern California PBS-like station. Everything -- station IDs, local commercials, classic film clips, interviews -- everything is done is if we live in the Confederate States of America. It's like if Woody Allen's ZELIG meets the Key & Peele and Dave Chappelle comedy shows we saw on cable's Comedy Central. Classic film fans will marvel at Willmott's twist on film history and his knowledge of it. In this mockumentary is a scene from a silent D.W. Griffith film in which we see Abraham Lincoln, in blackface, caught trying to flee on the Underground Railway. It looks exactly like actual footage from Griffith's THE BIRTH OF A NATION. There's a classic 1940s film in which an obviously British and white actor is in blackface seriously playing a Southern plantation butler. It's laughable.
However, in the mid 1940s, after she'd played Queen Elizabeth I followed by the housekeeper/narrator in William Wyler's WUTHERING HEIGHTS, ivory white British film actress Flora Robson was covered in dark make-up and played the side-eye giving, formidable Haitian maid in the Warner Bros. romantic drama, SARATOGA TRUNK, starring Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper. Hollywood gave Caucasian Flora Robson a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for playing a dark-skinned Haitian maid. Writer/director/film professor Kevin Willmott knows his film history.
C.S.A.: THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA had me laughing so hard my sides hurt. The reviews for it were terrific. When I worked on-air with Whoopi Goldberg on her national weekday morning radio show out of New York City (from 2006 to 2008), I got a DVD copy, gave it to her, and enthusiastically suggested we do a phone interview of Kevin Willmott for a segment on the show. I'd contacted him, highly praised his work, and asked if he'd be open to doing an interview if she agreed to it. He was most gracious, very grateful and quite open to the idea of an interview.
For some reason, Whoopi was not as enthusiastic as I was. I was frustrated and disappointed that I couldn't give him some national exposure in 2006/2007 and introduce listeners to this gifted black talent.
Whoopi's radio show got canceled. Kevin Willmott went on to co-write screenplays with Spike Lee. His BlacKkKlansman was recognized, praised and honored at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Screenwriter Kevin Willmott could wind up getting an Oscar nomination early next year.
I wonder if Whoopi has seen the movie. She should. You should too.