The announcement of this year’s Academy Governor’s Awards totally went under my radar. For those who also missed it, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award goes to Debbie Reynolds. Lifetime Achievement Awards go to Gena Rowlands and Spike Lee.
Lee is 58 years old, certainly still the prime of a director’s life and very young to be receiving this kind of career award. He is certainly the most well-known black director in America, and forgive me if I think that has something to do with him getting this award now. His is one of the most interesting of any current directors, in that the quality of his films are all over the map.
In looking over his filmography, I see that I have seen about half of his films. Some are great, like Do the Right Thing, some are near great, like Malcolm X and The 25th Hour, some are solid entertainments, like Inside Man, and some are completely forgettable, like Girl 6 (I saw it, and remember almost nothing about it other than it was about phone sex). I recently saw Oldboy and kind of like that, though I know it’s blasphemy even to think to compare it to the original.
I find that Lee’s best work, other than Do the Right Thing, is when he makes a standard film without any particular “message” to it. The 25th Hour, Inside Man, Summer of Sam, Oldboy, all of these are just good films, and one would never know that Lee made them. It’s kind of odd to say, but Lee is best when he he suppresses his instincts to stand up and shout like he does at Knick games. Then again, some of his genre pictures, like Miracle at St. Anna, are supposed to be god awful.
What’s everyone’s opinions of Lee? Best film, worst film?