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The film, which tells the story of pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his white driver Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) as they journey on a concert tour through the Deep South, was not without controversy throughout the awards circuit.
Dr. Shirley’s relatives had a number of objections around some of the facts in the film, with one family member calling the film “a symphony of lies.” One such criticism came from his great-niece Yvonne Shirley, who found that the film’s portrayal of Dr. Shirley as estranged from his family and “disconnected from the black community” was false.
Some critics found that the film also portrayed a “white savior” narrative. And the film’s writer and producer, Nick Vallelonga, was caught up in a controversy when a 2015 tweet of his resurfaced in which he agreed with Donald Trump’s claim that Muslims in Jersey City cheered when the World Trade Center towers came down on 9/11. (He later apologized for the tweet and took a backseat on the rest of the awards cycle.)
The film’s director, Peter Farrelly, also came under fire for a resurfaced 1998 Newsweek article that described how he used to flash his genitals as a joke, something for which he also later apologized.
Upon accepting the award, Farrelly notably thanked Mortensen. “This doesn’t start by the way without Viggo Mortensen. We have no movie. All these awards are because Viggo, and Mahershala, and Linda [Cardellini], but it started with Viggo.”
Even Spike Lee had something to say about the Green Book win, saying in the press room after the show, “Every time somebody’s driving somebody, I lose.” Lee’s BlacKkKlansman was also up for the top prize.
Twitter had a lot to say about the win, with several users calling Green Book this year’s Crash (a best picture winner about race that was also controversial) and calling out the movie team’s acceptance speech for centering more on Mortensen’s role in the production than Ali’s. See some of the reactions below.
For anyone who may be interested in what the Green Book actually was, here is a link to more information about this act of resistance and source of love and survival for many African-Americans. It started with Victor Hugo Green. #OSCARS https://t.co/gdFp1mekub pic.twitter.com/9WkeInv2fd
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 25, 2019
Really? In the year of Black Panther and BlackKlansman? I am disgusted.
— roxane gay (@rgay) February 25, 2019
This man said that Green Book started with Viggo Mortensen. Not Mahershala…who played the character the story is actually about.
Viggo. Mortensen. #Oscars
— Spock Jenkins (@kidnoble) February 25, 2019
Remember when Green Book won Best Picture? Man, that choice did not age well.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) February 25, 2019
CRASH watching GREEN BOOK take its place as the worst Oscar winner pic.twitter.com/QvtgNioFnp
— Ira (@ira) February 25, 2019
Some of Green Book’s best friends are black movies.
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) February 25, 2019
— Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) February 25, 2019
How many more times is the American Negro going to bundle up their hopes and dreams in somebody else’s award? #Oscars will continue to #GreenBook you until you finally decide that your opinions matter more than anyone else’s.
— Greg Carr (@AfricanaCarr) February 25, 2019
remember that this is the same organization that gave its top honor to “Crash” – so not surprising but still, fuck it
— Manohla Darkness (@ManohlaDargis) February 25, 2019
— Paris Barclay (@Harparbar) February 25, 2019
“Green Book is an inspirational tale of how we can end racism if everyone, regardless of background, just works together. So please welcome the stage the producers of Green Book: 1000 white guys who were all born in 1961” pic.twitter.com/XW6nzqJc9q
— Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono) February 25, 2019
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