Oscars 2019: Amid controversy, Green Book lands surprise Best Picture win

The movie has been mired in real-life drama but still picked up the top award at this year's Oscars

91st Academy Awards - Oscars Show - Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 24, 2019.  Peter Farrelly and Viggo Mortensen smile at one another after "Green Book" won the Best Picture award. REUTERS/Mike Blake
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Peter Farrelly's comedy-drama road trip film Green Book surprised Oscars viewers on Sunday night when it picked up the Best Picture Oscar, beating off competition from hot favourite Roma and 10-time-nominated The Favourite.

The film had been viewed as a rank outsider for the award given the omnipresence of the two other films at this year’s awards. There was also controversy surrounding both lead actor Viggo Mortensen, who found himself in the spotlight after misguidedly using the "n-word" during the film’s awards publicity campaign, and co-writer Nick Vallelonga, who was put under the microscope when a 2015 tweet emerged of him supporting Donald Trump’s false claim that New Jersey Muslims had cheered the collapse of New York’s Twin Towers following 2001’s notorious terrorist attack.

The film has also been criticised for offering an overly “white” view of the experiences of a black musician, showing much of the action through the eyes of Mortensen’s Tony Lip, who acted as a driver and bodyguard for black jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) in the 1962-set film, which is based on a true story.

Green Book has also come under criticism from Shirley's family. His nephew, Edwin Shirley III, and brother, Maurice Shirley openly criticised it in an interview with media brand Shadow and Act, calling its portrayal of Shirley a "symphony of lies".

Family members have questioned the film’s portrayal of the relationship between the two main characters, calling it “an employer-employee relationship”.

Ali also picked up a Best Supporting Actor award for his role in the film.

TOPSHOT - Best Supporting Actor winner for "Green Book" Mahershala Ali  poses in the press room with his Oscar during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 24, 2019.  / AFP / FREDERIC J. BROWN