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How Frequently Has Spike Lee Been Recognized for His Filmmaking?

Spike Lee directed his first feature-length film, She's Gotta Have It, in 1986, but despite a storied career, it wasn't until 2018 that he earned his first Oscar nomination as a director. His first Oscar nomination of any kind came for his much-heralded 1989 film Do the Right Thing, but that was for Best Original Screenplay; controversially, he wasn't nominated in the Best Director or Best Picture categories. Lee was then nominated in the Best Documentary category for 1997's 4 Little Girls. After that, it was a complete Academy Award shutout until 2016, when Lee received an honorary award. Finally, in 2018, Spike Lee directed BlacKkKlansman, which earned him his first-ever nominations for Best Director and Best Picture, although both prizes ultimately eluded him. It also marked Lee's first Oscar win, for Best Adapted Screenplay. He shared the honor with fellow writers Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott.

Spike Lee, Hollywood iconoclast:

  • At the 91st Academy Awards in February 2019, Lee lost in the Best Director category to Alfonso Cuarón for Roma. Best Picture went to Green Book.
  • Some of Spike Lee's other critically-acclaimed films include Malcolm X, 25th Hour, and He Got Game.
  • Lee named his production company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks after an unrealized promise made to many freed slaves after the U.S. Civil War.
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