The Academy Faces Backlash over Green Book’s Best Picture Win


By Vanessa Obioha

At the 91st edition of the Academy Awards for Motion Pictures Arts and Science which held last night at the Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, diversity was well embraced until it was upended by Green Book’s Best Picture win.

Earlier on, women, people of colour made historic wins. Spike Lee, the director of ‘BlacKkKlansman’ took home his first Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay; Rami Malek won the Lead Actor prize for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, Regina King clinched the prize for Best Supporting Actress for her role in ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’, Alfonso Cuaron took home the Best Director trophy, making it the fifth time a Mexican filmmaker tops that category in the last six years. Guillermo del Toro took home the award last year for ‘The Shape of Water’. Cuaron also became the first director to win for shooting his own movie as he was awarded the prize for Best Cinematography.

Mahershala Ali also won his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar win in the last two years for his role in ‘Green Book’

‘Black Panther’ though failed to clinch the Best Picture win had a historic moment as Ruth Carter (Best Costume Design) and Hannah Bleacher (Best Production Design) became the first African-American women to win in these categories.

With the diversity call going so well, things took a nosedive when the Academy announced ‘Green Book’ as the winner of the Best Picture.

In the preceding days to the Oscars, predictions mostly favoured films like Roma, the Netflix film which enjoyed quite a run in this awards season and also had a tie with ‘The Favourite’ as the most nominated film in this year’s Oscars.

Directed by Peter Farrelly, ‘Green Book’ was widely criticized for its portrayal of US race relations in the 1960s, followed by Farrelly’s alleged sexual misconduct on set; and the family of Don Shirley, the renowned black pianist openly condemning Ali’s portrayal of his character.

The film’s win is already been tagged as the worst Best Picture winner by some pundits. Visibly irritated by the film’s win was Spike Lee who was reported to have waved his hand in disgust when the announcement was made and left the hall, only to return when the acceptance speech was done. Backstage, he slyly mocked the movie saying that the “ref made a bad call.”

On Twitter, there was a mockery of Green Book’s win as one Twitter user tweeted “There was a mistake, Green Book didn’t win.”

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ took most wins of the night including a win in Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing while ‘The Favourite’ which clinched 10 nominations only took home one prize: Best Actress for Olivia Colman.