A visibly angry Spike Lee waved his hands in disgust and appeared to try to walk out of the Dolby Theatre after Julia Roberts announced “Green Book” had won this year’s Oscar for best film.
Lee, whose film “BlackKkKlansman was also nominated, had won an Oscar earlier in the evening for best adapted screenplay.
Jordan Peele, who was sitting behind Lee, also declined to applaud the winner, as did others in the room.
Spike Lee’s first-ever competitive Oscar award turned a mostly staid ceremony into a joyful, passionate, and briefly profane one.
Lee, who captured the best adapted screenplay trophy for BlacKkKlansman, jumped into the arms of presenter, longtime collaborator and friend Samuel L. Jackson when he took the stage on Sunday to accept his award with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott. The audience gave him a standing ovation.
The veteran filmmaker had waited a long time to be recognized by his peers in the movie industry beyond the honorary Oscar he received in 2016 for his contributions to movies. He received his first Oscar nod in 1989 for best original screenplay for Do The Right Thing.
After unleashing an expletive as he warned Oscar producers not to put a clock on his speech, Lee noted that his award came during Black History Month, and recited a litany of facts, among them the 400-year-old enslavement of Africans and transport to America. He also said his grandmother was a graduate of the predominately black Spelman College, despite her mother having been a slave.
“Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who helped build this country,” Lee said. “We all connect with our ancestors … when we love our humanity.”
“Let’s do the right thing, you know I had to get that in there.”