'More like the White Pages': People are furious 'Green Book' won Best Picture

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  • Peter Farrelly
    American film director, producer and screenwriter
  • Viggo Mortensen
    Viggo Mortensen
    American actor
From left, Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Nick Vallelonga, Peter Farrelly and Brian Currie celebrate their Oscar win for <em>Green Book</em>. (Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
From left, Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Nick Vallelonga, Peter Farrelly and Brian Currie celebrate their Oscar win for Green Book. (Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Spike Lee told reporters that “the refs made a bad call” in awarding Green Book the Oscar for Best Picture Sunday night — and he wasn’t the only one who thought so.

The film, centered around a white man (Viggo Mortensen) driving a black musician (Mahershala Ali) around the South in 1962, was racked with controversies from the very beginning. To start, some critics said the film was essentially a “white savior” story told from the perspective of white men. This critique was backed up by the sight of predominantly white men accepting the award on Sunday.

Past allegations of sexual misconduct against Peter Farrelly, the director, resurfaced in January, drawing even more criticisms. Admitting that descriptions in 1998 of him flashing his genitals on the set of his films were true, Farrelly apologized for his behavior.

“True. I was an idiot,” Farrelly said in a statement in January to CNN. “I did this decades ago and I thought I was being funny and the truth is I’m embarrassed and it makes me cringe now. I’m deeply sorry.”

Then, the film’s writer and producer was called out for an anti-Muslim social media post from 2015. Nick Vallelonga, whose father is portrayed in Green Book, apologized for his tweet agreeing with Donald Trump’s claim that Muslims celebrated 9/11 in New Jersey.

Family members of Don Shirley, the black musician depicted in Green Book, also accused the filmmakers of inaccurately depicting Shirley. Vallelonga told the Hollywood Reporter backstage at the Oscars that Shirley told him not to reach out to his family about the film, adding that he didn’t really know about them until after the film was already in production.

Because of these scandals, people were taken aback when Green Book was named Best Picture, beating out Black Panther and Roma.

Oscar viewers were also frustrated that the filmmakers’ acceptance speeches didn’t recognize the black man behind the historical “Green Book” travel guide for people of color: Victor Hugo Green. Farrelly explicitly said the film “started with Viggo [Mortensen],” the white actor who said the N-word while promoting the movie back in November.

On top of winning Best Picture, Green Book won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and Ali was named Best Supporting Actor.

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