Spike Lee to get honorary Oscar 25 years after Do the Right Thing

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Spike Lee, the American director whose 1989 film Do the Right Thing was famously snubbed by the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences more than a quarter of a century ago, is to receive an honorary Oscar for his contributions to film-making.

Lee joins fellow honoree Gena Rowlands, known for her 1960s, 70s and 80s films with director husband Nick Cassavetes, who has twice been nominated for the Academy award for best actress but each time failed to take home the prize. Both will receive their statuettes at the Academy’s annual governors awards on 14 November at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Los Angeles.

“The board is proud to recognise our honorees’ remarkable contributions,” said academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs in a statement. “We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations.”

Lee’s 1986 debut She’s Gotta Have It returned millions despite its tiny independent budget, and the film-maker followed up with college satire School Daze in 1988. But it was Do the Right Thing that brought him fame and fortune, as well as a reputation as one of America’s most vital up-and-coming directors.

Lee, 58, was nominated for a best original screenplay Oscar for the film in 1990, and his star Danny Aiello also scored a nod for his portrayal of an Italian American pizza owner living in racially intolerant Brooklyn. But the film-maker failed to pick up so much as a nomination for best director that year, with the prize eventually going to Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July. 

Nevertheless, the comedy-drama frequently features on lists of the greatest films of all time, and in 1999 was preserved by the US congress National Film Registry as a “culturally significant” example of 20th century film-making.

Singin’ in the Rain star Debbie Reynolds will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the governors awards. Next year’s Oscars ceremony proper is due to be held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on 28 February.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ben Child, for The Guardian on Friday 28th August 2015 14.48 Europe/London

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