A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Monday, September 28, 2015

Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)


All these years later, Lee's movie is still fresh and true, whereas the best picture Oscar winner for that year, Driving Miss Daisy (Bruce Beresford, 1989), has grown stale and false. It's not as though what happens in the movie can't happen anymore. Just today, it was reported that the execrable George Zimmerman had tweeted a photograph of the body of his victim, Trayvon Martin. And the bleating and yapping of the Republican presidential candidates can be heard stirring up animosity toward Muslims, gays, immigrants, food stamp recipients, Planned Parenthood, and anyone else they want to portray as the enemy. At least the Academy is going to give an honorary Oscar to Lee, after slighting him for this film and for the magnificent Malcolm X (1992). Lee was nominated for the screenplay for Do the Right Thing, losing to Tom Schulman for the maudlin Dead Poets Society (Peter Weir, 1989), and Danny Aiello received a supporting actor nod -- he lost to Denzel Washington for Glory (Edward Zwick, 1989). But where are the nominations for Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, or Giancarlo Esposito? Or for Ernest Dickerson's wonderful cinematography, Wynn Thomas's production design, or Barry Alexander Brown's editing? In fairness, Oscars aren't everything: Do the Right Thing has taken its rightful place in the National Film Registry; Driving Miss Daisy hasn't.