Under the Radar

Marine Vet Adam Driver Headed for an Oscar Nomination With 'BlacKkKlansman'

Adam Driver and John David Washington in "BlacKkKlansman." (Focus Features)

Director Spike Lee made one of his best movies in years with "BlacKkKlansman" (out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital) and the early nominations have started to roll in. Marine Corps veteran Adam Driver has been nominated as Best Supporting Actor by the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Independent Spirit Awards and seems a lock for an Oscar nomination on January 22nd.

The top billing, John David Washington, has been nominated for Best Actor by and Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama by the Golden Globes. The Globes also nominated Lee as Best Director and the movie as Best Motion Picture – Drama. SAG nominated the movie for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, a recognition that usually predicts a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

"BlacKkKlansman" is based on the true story of former Colorado Springs police detective Ron Stallworth, an African-American who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. John David Washington, who is Denzel Washington's son, gives a breakthrough performance, having come late to the acting game after spending a career in football. Driver plays Stallworth's partner, Det. Flip Zimmerman, a Jewish officer who impersonates Stallworth during in-person meetings with the amazingly dumb members of a local Klavern.

Stallworth even manages to punk national Klan leader David Duke, who visits the town for a screening of D.W. Griffith's notorious silent film "Birth of a Nation."

While the movie sound like a comedy and there are some incredibly funny satirical parts, Lee uses the jokes to set up his provocative points about racism. There's brutal violence and shockingly offhand racist language from the Klansmen and some of the other cops. Lee ends the movie with real footage from the 2017 Charlottesville riots, including a clip of the still-alive David Duke preaching his white supremacist gospel to a surprisingly young crowd.

This is a movie designed to make you think, push your buttons and make those who think racism doesn't exist in America uncomfortable. Adam Driver has proven himself the most talented former Marine actor since Gene Hackman, and with "BlacKkKlansman" he's most definitely taking a side in one of the thorniest debates of our time. He gives a great performance in a great movie that's worth watching.

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