“That was some shenanigans, subterfuge, straight skulduggery. He got robbed of that Academy Award. He was too black, too strong.” The words are spoken by two characters in the Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It and refer to Denzel Washington, but they come from the pen of Spike Lee and they carry more than a whiff of autobiography. When Lee ascends the Oscars carpet on February 25 it will be for the first time as a best picture or best director nominee. In 35 years of filmmaking, he has been nominated only twice (in less prominent categories) and both times left empty-handed. Most painful of all, his 1989 hard-hitting study of racial tensions Do the Right Thing lost out the same year that the cosier interethnic drama Driving Miss Daisy rode off with a clutch of statuettes. In 2015 he was given an honorary Oscar but now BlacKkKlansman, his truth-based movie about an African-American cop who infiltrates the KKK, has been nominated in six categories, including the top ones. So what too...

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