The Won Thing - Peggy Mccoll - Google Books
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Wake Up! Your Life Is Calling. Mike Jaffe. Ignite the Light. There was therefore pressure to make the ceremony an event that the Academy could be proud of. Jack Lemmon had been sent to Moscow. Mel Gibson and Glenn Close went to London. Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa received a deserved honorary award. Stalwart actor Marlon Brando was given a supporting-actor nod for his turn in the apartheid drama A Dry White Season, helmed by Euzhan Palcy —a Martiniquan director who had incidentally, as of this movie, become the first black woman to direct a film for a major Hollywood studio MGM.
Boundaries were being broken. Jessica Tandy, the British star of eventual best-picture winner Driving Miss Daisy, won best actress at 80 years old—the oldest woman ever to win in that category. Old and young, black and white, American and not—the Academy, at least according to the Academy, was open to them all.
And yet there were limits, even in an increasingly liberal Hollywood. Academy Award history is scrutinized as much for its questionable champions as for its unforgivable omissions, and the 62nd Academy Awards—largely remembered for the films that were barely acknowledged—is a case in point. And then, occupying a category unto itself, there was a certain Spike Lee joint. By the time it opened in the U. In a review often quoted by Lee including when I interviewed him for this magazine in , David Denby, of New York, suggested that the film might spark real-life racial violence.
It went home empty-handed. It holds fast to the possibility of mutual respect and understanding across racial lines, at least between blacks and Jews. As a Jewish American, Miss Daisy is white, but not a full beneficiary of whiteness. Late in the film, her synagogue is bombed, manifesting the social injustices threatening her own life. Do the Right Thing is, by contrast, less beholden to Hollywood notions of safe politics or good taste. After the death of Radio Raheem, delivery man Mookie, played by Lee himself, ups the ante—and changes cinema history—by picking up a trash can and hurling it through the window of the beloved local pizzeria.
The scene is notable for the range of reactions it inspires. You are free to believe, as Denby suggests in his review, that this climactic riot is a mess of conflicting attitudes towards violent protest, endorsing what it decries, celebrating what it denounces. Miss Daisy star Morgan Freeman, who was rightly up for best actor, and the younger talents of Denzel Washington and Spike Lee all had their supporters in Hollywood that year, a split that felt indicative of a greater generational shift among black actors.
But there was a feeling that it could have gotten close. He had nabbed a best-director nomination at the Golden Globes a few months earlier, for example, and his movie had legs both critically and with audiences. Or maybe not, exactly, like Lee. It talks back. Lee has, to date, only been awarded one Oscar—an honorary award in That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like Do the Right Thing is.
It earned only two nominations: for best picture and best original song which it wound up winning. Merely two years after snubbing Lee, John Singleton became the first black director to be nominated in that category, for Boyz 'n the Hood.