The 92nd Academy Awards are almost upon us, and if there’s one certainty going into Oscar night, it’s that some worthy talent in some category will be overlooked in favor of a lesser talent. No nominee or winner is undeserving of recognition, but snubs are also an essential part of Oscar history and directors are not immune to them. In fact, some of the greatest directors of all time have gone their whole career without receiving a proper Best Director Oscar.

Film is fundamentally a collaborative medium, and we’re only a little over a month removed from a decade where the movie industry shifted to a more producer-controlled landscape in which IP-friendly tentpoles seemed to occupy all the best real estate. Yet the best directors, the ones with the most singular voice or vision, do tend to bolster the case for auteur theory, whereby a director can be considered a film’s primary author. With that in mind, here’s a roughly chronological look at ten great film authors eluded by the golden statuette for Best Director. With each name on this list, we’ll be seeking to answer three questions: who did they lose to (if they were ever nominated), what film or films should they have won for, and why, oh, why didn’t they ever win?

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David Byrne's American Utopia Filmed Stage Show

Director Spike Lee is busy in post-production on Da 5 Bloods, a film starring Chadwick Boseman, Paul Walter Hauser and Giancarlo Esposito. But soon he’ll be taking the time to bring a Broadway stage production to theaters.

David Byrne’s American Utopia is an acclaimed Broadway show featuring the frontman of the band Talking Heads performing songs from his seventh solo album in a unique stage show along with 11 other diverse musicians from around the globe. Spike Lee will be directing a filmed version of the show for audiences to experience in theaters. Read More »

Spike Lee Cannes

Spike Lee is about to make history as the first African-American to serve as jury president for the Cannes Film Festival. Lee had seven films premiere at the fest in the past, and will now preside over the 73rd annual Cannes Film Festival taking place from May 12-23, 2020. In other, not-so-great film festival news: the China Independent Film Festival has announced that it’s shuttering because it’s become “impossible” to continue in the country’s current political climate.

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Do the Right Thing - Radio Raheem

Do the Right Thing is the movie that should have won the Best Picture Oscar for 1989, but like Glory — a film that depicted the real American Civil War, as opposed to the ongoing figurative one — it went without the nomination it deserved. The Academy Awards can be notoriously shortsighted. Earlier this year, Spike Lee finally took home a gold-plated statuette for Best Adapted Screenplay, but with the controversial Green Book still triumphing in the top category, his film, BlacKkKlansman, almost literally took a back seat to another Driving Miss Daisy.

It was as a college student in New York circa 2001 that I made my own personal discovery of Lee’s directorial work. He Got Game was playing in a darkened TV lounge in the campus center. Ray Allen and Rosario Dawson were sitting on a bench in front of the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island, their faces lit green, the camera gliding side-to-side as they exchanged dialogue. When you’re a 20-year-old riding the Metro-North Railroad alone into Midtown Manhattan, it feels like entering the center of American life. Lee’s films centered on other parts of the city, making slices of life there — and important chapters in history — come alive.

Do the Right Thing showed us the hottest day of summer in one Brooklyn neighborhood, where simmering racial tensions would boil over into a situation where few, if any, did the right thing. History repeats itself and life imitates art, just as it did five years ago on Staten Island when the police-chokehold death of Eric Garner showed the world a real-life version of Radio Raheem. This time, we didn’t need the empathy machine of a movie to make it real. All you had to do was watch a cellphone video on the news to see how little American society had changed.

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Do the Right Thing re-release

Spike Lee‘s monumental Do the Right Thing is turning 30, and to mark the occasion, Universal is re-releasing the movie into theaters with a new 4K restoration. The same 4K restoration is also headed to Blu-ray on the Criterion Collection, but if you’ve never had a chance to see Do the Right Thing in theaters, this is your chance.

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see you yesterday trailer

Teen time travel movies never felt so relevant. See You Yesterday, which is directed by Spike Lee protégé Stefon Bristol, gives a time travel twist to a Black Lives Matter story, following two teenagers who build a time machine to go back in time and save one of their brothers from being tragically gunned down by a cop. Watch the See You Yesterday trailer below.

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Old Electronics in Movies

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, take a tour of the warehouse where Hollywood gets the vintage electronics they need for movies set during different decades. Plus, find out how Spike Lee‘s adaptation of BlacKkKlansman compares to the book it’s based on, and Willem Dafoe breaks down his most famous characters from the movies. Read More »

Chadwick Boseman to Star in Da 5 Bloods

Director Spike Lee and actor Chadwick Boseman have been riding quite the wave throughout awards season. Spike Lee’s latest film BlacKkKlansman is nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and it also landed him a Best Director nomination. Meanwhile, Chadwick Boseman is the star of the Best Picture nominated Black Panther, which earned six other noms. Now the two are teaming up for a new project at Netflix called Da 5 Bloods. Read More »

The LEGO Movie 2 Game of Games

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, watch the characters of The LEGO Movie 2 play Ellen’s Game of Games. Plus, watch the feature film nominees for the Director’s Guild of America awards have a 2.5 hour discussion about their craft, and watch a special look at A Star Is Born as the movie makes its way towards Oscar gold. Read More »

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BlacKkKlansman in Theaters

The nominations for the 91st Academy Awards were announced earlier this week, and while The Favourite and Roma led the pack with 10 nominations each, let’s not forget that the frustratingly timely and relevant BlacKkKlansman also landed six nominations, including one for director Spike Lee. The film hit theaters back in August and has been available on home video for a few months now, but since the film has been given an extra boost of interest thanks to the Oscar noms, audiences will be able to catch BlacKkKlansman in theaters again. Read More »