Spike Lee did not do much to hide his displeasure when Green Book beat his film and six others to this year’s best picture Oscar.
According to one report, the BlacKkKlansman director tried to storm out of the Dolby Theatre when the winner was read out by Julia Roberts.
“I thought I was courtside at the [Madison Square] Garden and the ref made a bad call,” Lee later told reporters, saying the film was “not his cup of tea”.
“I’m snake-bit,” he joked, using a euphemism for experiencing failure or bad luck. “Every time somebody’s driving somebody, I lose.”
His comment was a reference to Driving Miss Daisy, winner of the best picture Oscar in 1990 and a film to which Green Book has been compared. Lee’s film Do the Right Thing was nominated for two Oscars in 1990 – best original screenplay and best supporting actor – but missed out on both.
In Green Book, an African-American classical pianist is driven around the American south of the 1960s by an Italian-American chauffeur. In Driving Miss Daisy, an elderly Southern matron grudgingly agrees to be chauffeured by an African-American driver.
“They changed the seating arrangement!” said Lee of Green Book, which also won Oscars for its screenplay and for supporting actor Mahershala Ali.
Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman also expressed disappointment as Green Book director Peter Farrelly and his predominantly white production team took to the stage.
On Twitter, meanwhile, Green Book’s victory over Black Panther, Roma, A Star Is Born and The Favourite generated an immediate backlash.
Justin Chang from the Los Angeles Times was particularly scathing of Green Book’s triumph, calling it “the worst best picture Oscar winner since Crash.” Crash, a multi-stranded drama about race relations in contemporary Los Angeles, was the widely reviled winner of the best picture award in 2006.
“Green Book is about as traditional a choice as you can get,” wrote The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey, describing its win as “a case of the same old, same old”.
The film, which was released in the UK earlier this month, takes its title from a guidebook African-American travellers once used to negotiate the segregated South.