Green Book scooped Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma to the Best Picture Oscar last night, but whether it deserves the highest movie honour appears to be a subject for debate.
Peter Farrelly’s first proper foray into drama – he’s better known for movies like Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary – tells the story of jazz pianist Don Shirley and his relationship with his driver, a New York bouncer called Frank ‘Tony Lip’ Vallelonga, as they toured the deep south.
But it angered some critics.
Some found it a reductive snapshot of a racially tense era, and now one leading commentator has called it ‘the worst Best Picture since Crash’.
The LA Times critic Justin Chang has said that the film winning the accolade is ‘an embarrassment’.
“Peter Farrelly’s interracial buddy dramedy is insultingly glib and hucksterish, a self-satisfied crock masquerading as an olive branch,” he writes.
“It reduces the long, barbaric and ongoing history of American racism to a problem, a formula, a dramatic equation that can be balanced and solved.
“A slick crowd-pleaser set in the Deep South in 1962, [it] strains to put you in a good mood. Its victory is appalling but far from shocking: From the moment it won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, the first of several key precursors it would pick up en route to Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, the movie was clearly a much more palatable brand of godawful.”
Chang is not the only one to find the film distasteful.
The family of Shirley were not consulted on the making of it, and have said that the premise – that Shirley and Vallelonga were friends – is false.
They called the film ‘a symphony of lies’.
It seems Spike Lee also has his own issues with the movie, reportedly storming out of the auditorium when it was announced as the Best Picture winner.
He was up against it with his own movie BlacKkKlansman, but was beaten to the gong, and clearly pretty angry about it, apparently ‘waving his arms in disgust’ as the winner was read out.
“I’m snakebit,” Lee went on to tell reporters in the press room. “Every time somebody’s driving somebody I lose.”
The comment related to the time he lost out on Best Movie to Driving Miss Daisy in 1990, when his classic Do The Right Thing failed to get a nomination, and then lost out in the screenplay category to Dead Poets Society.
Hurling in a New York Knicks reference, Lee added: “I thought I was courtside at the Garden. The ref made a bad call.”