But long before his latest film, “BlacKkKlansman,” finally earned Lee some Oscar respect, actress Kim Basinger called out the awards for slighting the auteur. At the 1990 Oscars ceremony, she criticized the absence of Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” from best picture consideration. The nominees for the 1989 year included “Dead Poets Society” and the eventual winner, “Driving Miss Daisy.”
“We’ve got five great films here, and they’re great for one reason: because they tell the truth,” Basinger said. “But there is one film missing from this list, that deserves to be on it, because ironically, it might tell the biggest truth of all ― and that’s ‘Do The Right Thing.’”
She then said “yes yes yes” to egg on further applause.
On Tuesday it was the 61-year-old Lee doing the cheering, shown in a video ecstatically celebrating his nominations (watch up top.)
“Thirty years is a long time, ain’t it?” he said of his three-decades-plus career without a best director nod. (“BlacKkKlansman” received a total of six nominations, including adapted screenplay for Lee.)
Lee, who has an honorary Oscar, did receive a screenplay nomination for “Do The Right Thing” and a best documentary nod in 1998 ― but Tuesday may have righted an injustice that Basinger recognized long ago.