Jordan Peele was already household name even before Get Out — thanks primarily to his genius portrayals of different characters alongside Keegan-Michael Key on the Comedy Central sketch series Key & Peele.
Naturally, people expected his directorial debut to be as funny, crude, and crass as his sketches on the show. While it did indeed pack doses of humor, Peele's film wasn't quite a comedy. Not only was it a well-made thriller, it also harbored something far more complex — a searing social commentary on the oppression of African-Americans, with them literally being auctioned off, their bodies exploited by old white folks craving renewed vitality.
What initially seemed as a run-of-the-mill blaxploitation flick became an important fixture on racial politics and the subtle, genteel racism that permeates modern America. The Oscars recently announced its nominees, and it's no surprise that Get Out earned four: Best Picture, Best Actor for Daniel Kaluuya, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director, both of which for Peele, who's only the third person in Oscar's history to receive nominations for the screenplay-film-direction combo.
"I'm overwhelmed, in a very good way. I feel very at peace right now," Peele told Los Angeles Times, who shared the emotional exchange between him and fellow nominee Kaluuya when the news broke.
"It was very emotional; whenever I talk to him about this stuff I just break down. He's got a little bit more composure than I do."
"I basically devolved into a crying mess on the phone with him. He was in a different phase of acceptance," Peele said in another interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Peele also talked about almost giving up directing entirely.
"I left my dream of being a director behind long ago, and I think that was because, while I have a great respect for film, I didn't really believe there was a place for very many black directors," he said. "Many years later after an odyssey through acting and comedy, I came back to my original dream."
Get Out was released in February last year, featuring Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, and Lakeith Stanfield. It was nominated at the 2018 Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, and Kaluuya for Best Actor.
The 90th Academy Awards premieres March 4. Among those with multiple nominations are The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, Blade Runner 2049, Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, Mudbound, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and more.