In 2019, you might be surprised to think there has never been a black director to win the best director Oscar, but it’s true. It may even come as a surprise that after a prolific career making award-winning movies such as Malcolm X, 4 Little Girls, Inside Man, Do The Right Thing, When The Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts, Lee’s 2019 nomination for best director (BlacKkKlansman) is his first Oscar nomination in the category.
Spike Lee has received an honorary Oscar before receiving a best director Academy Award nomination, and if that seems a bit unusual to you, you aren’t alone.
Just let that sink in for a moment. Spike Lee won an honorary Oscar before being nominated for best director. Now consider this: Spike Lee has 84 directorial credits (film and video) with more projects in the works, and this is his first nomination in the best director category.
And if you think that thirty years into Spike Lee’s career it’s time he is nominated for best director you’re on point, but more people feel it is way past time for a black director to actually win the award, not just receive a nomination.
To the Academy’s credit, Spike Lee was nominated for best writing/screenplay in 1990 for Do The Right Thing. In 1998, 4 Little Girls was nominated for best documentary.
Still, many find that Lee’s lack of nominations and awards, and especially receiving an honorary Oscar with his body of work, a little odd.
Will 2019 be a magical year for Spike Lee? Will a black director finally win an Oscar?
Spike Lee is the sixth black man to ever be nominated for best director. Three of the nominees took place in the past three years.
In 1991, John Singleton became the first black man to receive the best director nomination for Boyz n the Hood. Lee Daniels scored the second nomination in 2009 for Precious.
In 2012, Steve McQueen became the first black director to direct an Oscar-winning film as 12 Years a Slave won best picture.
Things have taken a shift after many protests and in 2016, Barry Jenkins was nominated for Moonlight. Jordan Peele scored the nomination in 2017 for Get Out.
Will Spike Lee’s nomination for BlacKkKlansman prove to be a historic moment when the first black man wins an Oscar for best director?