In an emotional acceptance speech at the 2018 Oscars, writer-director Jordan Peele said he nearly stopped scripting his debut feature, Get Out, 20 times, because he thought it was an impossible film to write, and he wouldn’t be able to get it made even if he did write it. The film, which won Best Original Screenplay, is a racially charged horror story about a black photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) meeting his white girlfriend’s family and uncovering an eerie plot. It’s Peele’s first writing and directing project, and it makes him the first black winner in the category, and only the fourth nominated, after John Singleton, Spike Lee, and Suzanne de Passe.
Peele’s speech was a quick, emotional retelling of how he wrote the script, followed by a list of thank-yous that included “my mother, who taught me to love even in the face of hate,” and every audience member who “shouted out in the theater.” Offstage, Peele was a little less formal.
Original Screenplay is generally considered one of the most interesting races at the Academy Awards. In the past, the category has been something of a catch-all for weird, passionate projects, but that’s been radically changing in recent years, in part due to voting rules changes and a diversity membership drive in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite scandal. Get Out was exactly the kind of daring, aggressively different, controversial films that might have been limited to the Best Original Screenplay category, but this year it was also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture, with Daniel Kaluuya up for Best Actor as well.
In the Original Screenplay category, Get Out was up against The Big Sick (scripted by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani), Lady Bird (scripted by Greta Gerwig), The Shape of Water (scripted by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor), and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (scripted by Martin McDonagh).