In a weak film year as 2020, cinephiles and critics are praising Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods as one of the year’s most radically inventive films, generating Oscar buzz for several nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director nominations – two of the coveted Academy prizes that continue to elude Lee.
And yet, despite such lavish praise from industry-insiders and fans alike, both Da 5 Bloods and Spike Lee are only being consigned to dark horse in the betting territory on the Oscar betting race at least for now, so early as it is in the race to the podium at the 93rd Academy Awards.
This present modest assessment isn’t to say the odds market won’t shift or change down the line, as the Oscars near, but the way it currently stands simply underscores how shocking it is that Lee’s work and tireless efforts to put black history into the Oscar equivalent of the Hall of Fame continues to be underappreciated.
Lee’s three-decade long career includes 31 feature films, as well as documentaries and shorts, but since the watershed release of 1989’s Do the Right Thing, a common thread permeates through his work: which is to champion the uniquely African American experience and bring black history and art to the forefront.
Da 5 Bloods is a powerful and timely film that seeks to highlight the on-going traumatic history of racial inequality through an intrinsically African-American lens. Lee cleverly intertwines the Vietnam War with the Civil Rights Movement in the film, as it tells the story of four Big Red One infantrymen returning to Vietnam to retrieve buried treasure and the remains of a fallen colleague, who died during a firefight in the jungle.
"If some lies have been told, then you have to try to retell that narrative. That's what I do." – @SpikeLeeJoint
DA 5 BLOODS's director Spike Lee breaks down his research process and why it's important to examine and question the narrative of the history of the United States. pic.twitter.com/hjgFTxaiia
— NetflixFilm (@NetflixFilm) June 13, 2020
Spike Lee won an Oscar (Best Adapted Screenplay) for writing “BlacKkKlansman” two years ago – which to date is his only competitive Oscar victory. In 2015, the Academy did award Lee a token Oscar, the honorary Oscar for his contributions.
BlacKkKlansman is a film that continues on the same rich vein of work that shines the light on the black experience, It seeks to once again capture the racial injustice and social inequality facing African Americans in society, blending current events with fiction to weave a compelling story that resonates with prevalent climate of the time. The film provokingly ends with footage of the Unite the Right march in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
Lee hasn’t minced his words in the past when criticizing the Academy Awards. Several years ago, he was quoted as saying, “Nobody’s talking about motherf–kin’ Driving Miss Daisy,” the film that won the Best Picture award the year his Do The Right Thing was released and met with rave reviews. He went on to add, “That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like Do the Right Thing is.”
Checking on the 2021 Oscars odds board can never be done too early, even though the event isn’t scheduled to get underway until April 25, 2021, with the eligibility window for Oscar consideration moving to February 28.
As it is, the top of the Oscars odds board features four films: Mank, News of the World, Nomadland, and the Trial of the Chicago 7. Whether these early top contenders are strong enough to withstand the next eight months remains to be seen.
Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, a documentary-influenced road movie starring Frances McDormand as an itinerant widow traveling across America, debuted to much acclaim and took the Golden Lion at the 77th Venice Film Festival last month.
Mank is a biopic about Herman J. Mankiewicz, who was the screenwriter for Citizen Kane and News of the World, starring Tom Hanks, is a western based on a 2016 novel.
The Trial of the Chicago 7, is a courtroom drama based on the “Chicago Seven,” a group that gained notoriety when it was singled out by the government for inciting counter-culture protests in the 1960s.
Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods was intended for a debut at the Cannes Film festival earlier this year, but with the coronavirus pandemic at its height in spring, the film went straight to digital release on June 12 with Netflix. Its release coincided with the rising Black Lives Matter protests and it was met with rave reviews, breaking number one on Netflix’s top 10.
recognition for his industry’s most prestigious governing body