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Filmmaker Spike Lee is celebrating his 58th birthday today, and we're taking a look back at his prolific and varied career to try to identify the best-of-the-best. Here are some of the highlights of over thirty years of filmmaking; you can see all the current rankings and weigh in by making your own list of the Top 10 Best Spike Lee Movies? now!
1988's School Daze was Lee's second feature-film, a musical-drama about inter-race relations and skin-tone bias during homecoming weekend at a historically black college. It launched the career of star Larry Fishburne, and cemented Lee's place in the cultural conversation around race in America. With a sequel in the works (rumored to involve Kevin Hart and Drake), the 27-year-old classic is as relevant now as ever.
So, Spike Lee basically crushed the '90s. Mo' Better Blues, Clockers, Malcom X, He Got Game, Summer of Sam and a handful of others would make a great decade on any director's resume. But the one that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest according to the Culturalist community is 1991's Jungle Fever. The searing portrait of an interracial affair became a social touchstone and one of the most important films of the decade.
Despite finding major mainstream success with 2006's heist flick The Inside Man, our listmakers think it could be Lee's documentary work that same year that might ultimately define his legacy. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts is an epic exploration of the devastation of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the consequences for the storm's survivors.
The landscape of the movie business has changed radically over the course of Lee's long career, and he's changed with it. In 2013, he ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the film that would eventually become the recently-released Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. With the newfound freedom offered by working without a studio looking over his shoulder, who knows what will come next?
Think our listmakers got it wrong? Join the conversation and set the record straight by making your own list of the Top 10 Best Movie and TV Adaptations of Books now!