Director Spike Lee will receive an honorary Oscar at next year’s ceremony.
The honor will come 25 years after his groundbreaking film, Do the Right Thing, was nominated for Best Screenplay. The Academy of Arts and Sciences announced on Thursday (August 27) that Lee would be receiving the award, along with actresses Gena Rowland and Debbie Reynolds. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued a statement about the 2016 Academy honorees.
“The board is proud to recognize our honorees’ remarkable contributions. We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished—with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference—will also enrich future generations.”
This is all interesting since Lee has been so vocal about his problems with the Academy over the years. From The Hollywood Reporter:
In 2011, Lee, still stung by that experience, told Charlie Rose, “In 1989, Do the Right Thing was not even nominated [for best picture]. What film won best picture in 1989? DrivingMiss motherf—ing Daisy! That’s why [Oscars] don’t matter. Because 20 years later, who’s watching Driving Miss Daisy?” He added in 2015, “Are they going to choose a film where you have the relatively passive black servant, or are they going to choose a film with a menacing ‘Radio Raheem’? A lot of times, people are going to vote for what they’re comfortable with, and anything that’s threatening to them they won’t.”
He’s also made comments about the Academy awarding Black actors with statues in cycles.
“Anyone who thinks this year was gonna be like last year is retarded. There were a lot of black folks up there with 12 Years a Slave, Steve, Lupita [Nyong’o], Pharrell [Williams]. It’s in cycles of every 10 years. Once every 10 years or so I get calls from journalists about how people are finally accepting black films. Before last year, it was the year  with Halle Berry, Denzel and Sidney Poitier. It’s a 10-year cycle. So I don’t start doing backflips when it happens.”
“The Academy is trying to be more diverse,” he added. “[Academy president] Cheryl [Boone Isaacs] is trying to open it up and have more diversity amongst the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But with Selma, it’s not the first time it’s happened, and every time it does I say, ‘You can’t go to awards like the Oscars… for validation. The validation is if your work still stands 25 years later.'”
Lee hasn’t made any comments about the news of his statue yet, but we can’t wait to see what he’ll say Oscar night.
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