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In New York’s 40th-anniversary culture package, we interview Spike Lee about his seminal New York movie Do the Right Thing. But Spike being Spike, he had plenty more to say, including his entirely reasonable theory about how the Oscar is “like the makeup-call in basketball.” By Spike’s estimation, we guess, he’ll get his about fifteen years from now. —Logan Hill
Spike on Driving Miss Daisy and Do the Right Thing:
Driving Miss Daisy… Let’s be honest, you look at the makeup of the Academy then, you have to choose between Radio Raheem and Morgan Freeman’s character — what was his name? Mocha or something? — who are they gonna take? Some angry, threatening black man or some subservient, meek … So what that taught me is that never should I ever, ever make a film for an award. You can’t do that. You have to do the best work you can, and if it gets acknowledged, great, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m sorry — Ordinary People over Raging Bull?
Spike on Scent of a Woman and Malcolm X:
Al Pacino over Denzel? When Al doesn’t win for Godfather I, Godfather II, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon — they fucked him over at least five times, I know. Then he does Scent of a Woman. Denzel [nominated that year for Malcolm X] already won for Glory: “He’s young, he’ll be back, he’ll be all right. We fucked over Al, we’ll give it to him.” [Whispering] “Denzel, we’ll hook you up, we got you.” Training Day! He wins for Training Day. So we don’t get it for Malcolm X. It’s like the makeup call in basketball. It messes everything up.
Spike on Martin Scorsese:
If you don’t get it when you should, it messes everything up. The problem is, you don’t get it when you need to get it. And when you get the makeup call, then you’re fucking somebody else over and it just keeps going on and on and on. Now I love Marty — does he think Departed was the best film? Hell, no, he knows that, but would he give it back? Hell, no!
How I Made It: Spike Lee on ‘Do the Right Thing’ [NYM]Spike Lee on Why He’ll Win an Oscar in 2025