Could Spike Lee win his first competitive Oscar for “BlacKkKlansman”? Though he has been making films for more than 30 years and received an Honorary Oscar for his body of work in 2016, he has yet to win a competitive award from the motion picture academy. Perhaps surprisingly, he has never even been nominated for Best Director. His only two bids were Best Original Screenplay for “Do the Right Thing” (1989) and Best Documentary Feature for “4 Little Girls” (1997).
His latest film tells the improbable true story of Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington), a black police officer who managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. It’s earning the director his best reviews in years, scoring 83 on MetaCritic based on 48 reviews. And it has a 98% freshness score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 136 reviews (only 3 are classified as negative). The RT consensus says the film “uses history to offer bitingly trenchant commentary on current events — and brings out some of Spike Lee’s hardest-hitting work in decades along the way.”
It’s being described as “thematically dense and narratively twisty,” with “vital” messages about how history seems to be repeating itself in the Donald Trump era of racial division. Lee “is firing on all cylinders,” telling a “nuanced story” with “a sense of humor and incisiveness” that is “laced through with the underlying horror of racism.”
Does it look like an Oscar contender to you? Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more with your fellow movie fans right here in our forums.
Odie Henderson (RogerEbert.com): “This is not only one of the year’s best films but one of Lee’s best as well. Juggling the somber and the hilarious, the sacred and the profane, the tragedy and the triumph, the director is firing on all cylinders here. ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is a true conversation starter, and probably a conversation ender as well.”
Inkoo Kang (Slate): “The film is thematically dense and narratively twisty … In contrast to recent period pieces like ‘American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson’ and ‘The Post’ that reexamined the past through a modern lens, ‘BlacKkKlansman’ uses history to illustrate how we’re repeating it … The filmmaker’s studious parallels make ‘BlacKkKlansman’s’ messages vital. Ron’s pranks make them bearable.”
Andre Hereford (Film Journal International): “‘BlacKkKlansmanitself’ playfully deconstructs this country’s race problem from multiple angles, with a sense of humor and incisiveness clearly influenced by Lee’s collaborators, including producer Jordan Peele and the team behind the Oscar-winning 2017 satirical horror hit ‘Get Out’ … This film, despite the fun it’s having, is laced through with the underlying horror of racism past and present.”
Emily Yoshida (Vulture): “Lee plays with allusions to Trump and our present-day American mess throughout the film … but the final minutes remove any semblance of joking. ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is a nuanced story of race in America, but Lee doesn’t take any chances with vagueness or ellipses, nor should he. As much as ‘BlacKkKlansman’ plays with the mechanics of blaxploitation fantasy, it doesn’t leave one with any question about what’s real.”