The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences recently revealed an updated set of standards for qualifying films in its latest effort to make the Oscars—and, hopefully, the film industry—more inclusive. Starting in 2024, film productions will have to meet certain inclusion thresholds established for both on- and off-screen crew in order to qualify for Best Picture contention. Despite its intentions, the new guidelines attracted some criticism from folks in the industry, including voting members of the Academy. Speaking with Variety, Spike Lee says the Oscar voters who opposed the new inclusion standards “probably voted for Driving Miss Daisy and Green Book,” and while it’s impossible to confirm, he’s probably not wrong. It doesn’t take much in the way of deductive reasoning to figure that one out.
Both of those films memorably won Best Picture over Lee’s own films from their respective years: Driving Miss Daisy won out over Do The Right Thing in 1990, and Green Book won over BlacKkKlansman in 2019. As is frequently the case with Best Picture winners, neither of those titles are particularly memorable; Lee’s rival efforts have certainly drawn more attention and have had a higher replay value in the years since release.
Lee otherwise praised the Academy’s inclusion efforts, and while he pointed out that there are “a lot of loopholes,” he feels that “their heart is in the right place.” The filmmaker still has his eye on what he sees as the larger issue, however, which are the gatekeepers of the industry:
These are the people, individuals who decide what we’re making and what we’re not making, who’s going to write it, who’s going to direct it, who’s going to produce it, who’s a star in this. In speaking about the subject, I always go to Lin-Manuel’s ‘Hamilton’—You got to be in the motherfucking room. You got to be in the room where it happens. If we’re not in the motherfucking room where the motherfucker happens, ain’t no motherfucking thing going to change. Quote that!
Spike Lee has two films this year: Da 5 Bloods, a likely awards season contender released on Netflix over the summer; and American Utopia, a filmed version of David Byrne’s hit Broadway musical, which is set to premiere October 17 on HBO.