Spike Lee on 'Selma' Oscar Snub: "You Know What? F--- 'Em"
"Anyone who thinks this year was gonna be like last year is retarded," Lee added about the all-white acting nominees.
Count Spike Lee among those who were annoyed by Selma's snub in the major Oscar categories (the film only received two nominations: for best picture and best song), but he says the fact that star David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay didn't receive nominations doesn't diminish the quality of the movie.
"If I saw Ava today I'd say, 'You know what? Fuck 'em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one,' " Lee told The Daily Beast in a previously scheduled interview that took place hours after the Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday.
Lee also weighed in on the all-white acting nominees, only the second time that's happened in nearly two decades, and a far cry from last year when 12 Years a Slave stars Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor were up for best supporting actress and best actor and Captain Phillips' Barkhad Abdi earned a best supporting actor nomination. But Lee's not surprised by the lack of diversity.
"Anyone who thinks this year was gonna be like last year is retarded," Lee added. "There were a lot of black folks up there with 12 Years a Slave, [director] Steve [McQueen], Lupita, Pharrell. It's in cycles of every 10 years. Once every 10 years or so I get calls from journalists about how people are finally accepting black films. Before last year, it was the year [in 2002] with Halle Berry, Denzel [Washington] and Sidney Poitier. It's a 10-year cycle. So I don't start doing backflips when it happens."
He said the composition of the Academy is what really explains why certain films and performances are nominated.
"Let's be honest. I know they're trying to become more diverse, but when you look at the Academy and Do the Right Thing or Driving Miss Daisy, are they going to choose a film where you have the relatively passive black servant, or are they going to choose a film with a menacing 'Radio Raheem?' " asked Lee. "A lot of times, people are going to vote for what they're comfortable with, and anything that's threatening to them they won't."
Lee's Do The Right Thing failed to receive a best picture nomination in 1989, when Driving Miss Daisy ended up winning the top prize. But, again, he doesn't think Oscar nominations necessarily validate a film.
"The Academy is trying to be more diverse," he added. "[Academy president] Cheryl [Boone Isaacs] is trying to open it up and have more diversity amongst the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But with Selma, it's not the first time it's happened, and every time it does I say, 'You can't go to awards like the Oscars or the Grammys for validation. The validation is if your work still stands 25 years later.'"
Lee also said that best picture nominees Selma and Birdman, which received nine Oscar nominations, were the two best films he saw last year, and he was shocked that the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself was also snubbed.