"Do the Right Thing," Spike Lee's dramatic anatomy of an urban race riot, was named best picture of 1989 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. Saturday, and Lee was named best director.
The film, which was a hit with critics but ignored by the jury at this year's Cannes Film Festival, also won awards for Danny Aiello for best supporting actor and for Bill Lee--Spike's father--for music.
"Do the Right Thing," made for a modest $6 million and distributed by Universal Pictures, chronicles the events that take place during one day, the hottest day of summer, in the racially tense Bedford-Stuyvesant area of New York City. Aiello plays the pivotal role of Sal, an Italian-American whose neighborhood pizza parlor becomes the setting for the day-end's violence.
Three other films--"My Left Foot," "sex, lies and videotape" and "The Fabulous Baker Boys"--were multiple winners with the L.A. critics.
"My Left Foot" won the best actor award for Daniel Day-Lewis, who portrays the severely crippled Irish painter Christy Brown, and the best supporting actress award for Brenda Fricker, Brown's indomitable mom.
Andie MacDowell, the frigid New Orleans housewife in "sex, lies and videotape," and Michelle Pfeiffer, the sensuous lounge singer in "The Fabulous Baker Boys," tied for best actress. "The Fabulous Baker Boys" also won for Michael Balhaus' cinematography. "sex, lies and videotape" got a second honor when the 26 voting critics selected Laura San Giacomo, MacDowell's lustful younger sister in the film, for their New Generation Award for promising new talent.
The best screenplay award went to Gus Van Sant and Daniel Yost, co-writers of "Drugstore Cowboy," a sort of Bonnie and Clyde of '60s drug culture, which they adapted from a novel by James Fogle. Van Sant, singled out for a special award by the L.A. critics group two years ago for his first film, "Mala Noche," directed "Drugstore Cowboy," which was the runner-up to "Do the Right Thing" in the best picture category.
"Roger & Me," Michael Moore's documentary quest to bring General Motors Chairman Roger Smith to Flint, Mich., to see the effects of his closing of 11 auto plants in the town, was named best documentary. Warner Bros. picked up the film for commercial distribution and launches its national opening Tuesday night in Flint.
The awards will be presented at a luncheon Jan. 16 at the Bel Age in West Hollywood.
The winners and runners-up:
Picture: "Do the Right Thing." Runner-up: "Drugstore Cowboy."
Director: Spike Lee ("Do the Right Thing"). Runner-up: Oliver Stone ("Born on the Fourth of July").
Actor: Daniel-Day Lewis ("My Left Foot"). Runner-up: Morgan Freeman ("Lean on Me," "Johnny Handsome," "Glory" and "Driving Miss Daisy").
Actress: (Tie) Andie MacDowell ("sex, lies and videotape") and Michelle Pfeiffer ("The Fabulous Baker Boys").
Supporting Actor: Danny Aiello ("Do the Right Thing"). Runner-up: Martin Landau ("Crimes and Misdemeanors").
Supporting Actress: Brenda Fricker ("My Left Foot"). Runner-up: Anjelica Huston ("Enemies, A Love Story").
Screenplay: "Drugstore Cowboy," Gus Van Sant and Daniel Yost, from a novel by James Fogle.
Cinematographer: Michael Balhaus ("The Fabulous Baker Boys"). Runner-up: Robert Richardson ("Born on the Fourth of July").
Music: Bill Lee and contributing artists ("Do the Right Thing"). Runner-up: Eliott Goldenthal ("Drugstore Cowboy").
Foreign Language Film: (Tie) Claude Chabrol's "The Story of Women" and Clarence Davies' "Distant Voices, Still Lives."
Documentary: Michael Moore's "Roger & Me." Runner-up: Kazuo Hara's "The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On."
Independent/Experimental Award: Gregg Araki, "The Long Weekend (O' Despair)."
Career Achievement Award: Stanley Donen.
New Generation Award: Laura San Giacomo.
Special Award: The Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, "whose holdings and special collections have significantly contributed to the advancement of film scholarship."
Special Animation Award: John Musker and Ron Clements, for "The Little Mermaid."