How was Doing the Right Thing not nominated for Best Picture at the 1990 Oscars?
I have already wondered how an arty and modern film like Lighthouse was not nominated for Best Picture. I also wondered how a superhero movie (which is all the rage these days), like Spider-Man: No Coming Home was not nominated for Best Picture. But now I thought I’d go old school and wonder how the classic Spike Lee Joint, do the right thingwas not nominated for Best Picture in 1990.
Now, do the right thing is not like Uncut Gems (which I also wondered how it hadn’t been nominated for Best Picture). Because unlike the three movies I’ve already talked about, do the right thing, even in 1989, was considered one of the best films not only of its year, but also possibly of its decade (it was Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date, after all). Over time, the film has only gained in esteem, so I ask the question: why didn’t do the right thing to be nominated for Best Picture?
Why Doing the Right Thing Should Have Been Nominated for Best Picture
Spike Lee has made a lot of great movies over the years (and not too long ago he won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, along with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott for BlacKkKlansman), but none of his films could arguably top the lit firecracker that was do the right thing. do the right thing is Spike Lee pulp Fiction. It is his angry bulland by that, I mean it’s the film that will always be his magnum opus.
Unfolding in a single hot and suffocating day, do the right thing takes a serious look at race relations, gentrification and police brutality, and it’s all set to the explosive boom of Public Enemy. It’s an unapologetically noir film, but one that doesn’t let black people off the hook. When Buggin’ Out (skillfully played by Gus Fring himself, Giancarlo Esposito), asks Sal, played by the late Danny Aiello, why there are only Italians on the walls of Sal’s pizzeria and no pictures of Blacks, Sal tells him it’s his shop, and if Buggin’ Out wants pictures of blacks on the walls, then he should open his own pizza place. Well, he has a good point.
The entire movie has a lot of big points, though. And while it’s undoubtedly a movie with a message, it’s also hugely entertaining and powerful when needed. In the end, it’s the kind of movie that only comes out once in a decade, which is very different from what came out in 1989. Speaking of which…
What else was up for best picture that year?
Know this: 1990 wasn’t 2022 where we can have ten movies for Best Picture. No, at the time, there could only be five films, and these five films were: Dead Poets Society, field of dreams, Born July 4, my left footand Driving Miss Daisywith Driving Miss Daisy actually winning Best Picture (more on that in a few).
Now honestly save up for field of dreams (Sorry!), that’s a pretty good list of nominees, and if it were up to me, Born July 4 would have won, because it’s arguably the best film in Oliver Stone’s Vietnamese trilogy (I much prefer it to Section). But can we step back just for a second and talk about which movie actually won?
Today is kind of hilarious (and ridiculous) for a movie about an old white woman who leads a black man only for her to learn the error of his ways to be nominated (and win!) Best movie when the best, most significant movie isn’t even nominated. But, think back to 1989 when Driving Miss Daisy came out of. It was a pretty likable and crowd-pleasing movie in the sense that it was definitely about racing.
But that also didn’t have much to say about race other than, I don’t know, people can change? Which isn’t a terrible message, of course (I mean, green paper has pretty much the exact same message, and which won the Best Picture Oscar not even that long ago). But, that certainly does not Driving Miss Daisy a pioneer. That said, once again, it’s 1990, and the Academy didn’t want to lead the way back then, as you’ll soon see in the next section.
What was the good thing nominated for
Now, I’m going to give the Academy credit for at least this: do the right thing has at least been NOMINATED for a few awards. It was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Danny Aiello) as well as Best Original Screenplay, which it lost in both categories. The Chicago Film Critics Association, however, nominated it for Best Supporting Actor (Aiello again), Best Director, and even Best Picture, and it won all three.
It earned Golden Globe nominations for Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture, where it lost all four. But the NAACP Image Awards named Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis as Outstanding Actress and Outstanding Supporting Actor, respectively, and they both won. So, yes, it won some, it lost some, but in the end, no one can say that it’s not a great movie. Even back then.
So why didn’t it do what it took to be nominated for Best Picture?
contrary to Lighthouse Where Uncut Gemsthis one’s easy: the Academy just wasn’t ready for a movie like do the right thing in 1989. Today there is no doubt in my mind that if do the right thing released in 2022, it would not only be nominated, it would probably even be the favorite. But again, do the right thing would not really correspond to today’s culture. Or rather, it would look like a vintage piece. Because while racial tension is still very much alive, it has changed. Let me explain.
Today we live in what many people deplore as an “awakened” society. It just means that people are ready to speak up now when someone says something racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. I assure you that people weren’t doing it in 1990, or at least not on a large scale like people do. do it today. These days, even Disney is taking the initiative to add diversity to their movies, and they disavow movies like southern song in an effort to wipe their slate clean (it won’t be on Disney+ soon) of anything that might be perceived as racist.
However, Spike Lee didn’t want to sweep anything under the rug. He was (and still is) about putting everything front and center. Our clearest ambassador for that today at the general level would probably be Jordan Peele, and get out is one of the few horror films to be nominated for Best Picture, so let it in. get outa film where white people drug and take over the bodies of black people, was nominated for best picture.
It’s hard to believe that a movie like get out (or even Black Panther) would have been nominated for Best Picture in 1990, so this way, do the right thing had to get snubbed for movies like get out and Black Panther shine. It sucks, but I don’t care.
So those are my arguments. But what do you think? For more information on the 2022 Oscar nominations, be sure to drop by often here.