Green Book — a film that is said to have utterly misrepresented the Black, queer man whose life story inspired it — took home the Academy Award for best picture.
Director Peter Farrelly; producers Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, and Brian Hayes Currie; and Nick Vallelonga — the IRL son of Tony Vallelonga, played by Viggo Mortensen in the film — accepted the award at 2019 Oscars held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood Sunday night.
Earlier in the night, Green Book’s Mahershala Ali won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Dr. Don Shirley, a real-life pianist whose tour of the American South under segregation was the focus of the film. Green Book also won best original screenplay and was nominated for five Oscars in total, including best actor for Viggo Mortensen, and Best Film Editing.
Despite its acclaim among Academy voters, Green Book has come under scrutiny from critics and viewers alike, with Shirley’s brother calling it a “symphony of lies” in an interview with Shadow and Act.
Out director of culture and entertainment Tre’vell Anderson called Green Book the “white savior, feel-good movie of award season” and compared it to past films in that vein of Driving Miss Daisy or The Help in their review. Anderson also noted that the film not only failed to fully explore the life of Dr. Don Shirley — such as his arrest after having sex with another man at a Memphis YMCA — it didn’t even try.
“[I]t’s unclear how Shirley himself identified on the sexuality spectrum,” wrote Anderson. “Unfortunately, we may never know. That is until someone actually makes the movie we all thought we were going to see.”