- His 10-minute student movie for grad school was called The Answer, about a black screenwriter hired to pen a remake of Birth of a Nation.
- Has directed numerous TV commercials for companies such as Nike, AT&T and Levi's, and music videos for Public Enemy, Michael Jackson and Anita Baker.
- Due to the mounting production cost of his 1992 biopic Malcolm X, solicited financial assistance from Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and others so that the film could be completed.
- Numerous honors include Sports Emmys for programs that aired on HBO—one on Mike Tyson, the other on former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson.
- First movie to reach No. 1 at the box office was He Got Game (1998).
- Won the 2006 George Polk Award for documentary journalism for his HBO series When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts; a follow-up film, If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise, was released in 2010.
- Has published several books on filming techniques.
- Most of his movies are referred to in the credits as "A Spike Lee Joint.".
- 1987, Independent Spirit Awards — Best First Feature: Winner
- 1998, Emmy — Outstanding Non-Fiction Special: Nominee
- 2015, Oscar — Honorary Award: Winner
- 1990, Golden Globe — Best Screenplay - Motion Picture: Nominee
- 2019, Golden Globe — Best Director - Motion Picture: Nominee
- 1990, Golden Globe — Best Director - Motion Picture: Nominee
- 2002, BAFTA Film Awards — Special Award (Film): Winner
- 2019, Guldbagge Award — Best Foreign Movie: Nominee
- 0, — :
- 2018, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Director: Nominee
- 1997, Berlin Film Festival — Special Mention: Winner
- 2001, Independent Spirit Awards — Best First Feature: Nominee
- 1997, Oscar — Best Documentary (Feature): Nominee
- 2018, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Adapted Screenplay: Nominee
- 2019, Writers Guild Awards — Adapted Screenplay: Nominee
- 2019, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Director: Nominee
- 1989, Oscar — Best Writing (Original Screenplay): Nominee
- 2019, Producers Guild Awards — Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures: Nominee
- 2007, Emmy — Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming: Winner
- 2018, Cannes Film Festival — Grand Prix: Winner
- 2019, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Adapted Screenplay: Winner
- 2018, Directors Guild of America Awards — Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film: Nominee
- 2018, Oscar — Best Achievement in Directing: Nominee
- 2007, Emmy — Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking: Winner
- Malcolm D. Lee — Cousin
- Joie Lee — Sister
- Cinque Lee — Brother
- Jackson — Son
- Tonya Lewis — Wife
- Cinqué Lee — Brother
- Satchel — Daughter
- Jacqueline Carroll — Mother
- William James Edward Lee II — Father
- Jackson Lewis Lee — Son
- Chris Lee — Brother
- William James Edwards Lee III — Father
- David Lee — Brother
- Satchel Lee — Daughter
- Susan Kaplan — Stepmother
- Tonya Lewis Lee — Wife
- Arnold Lee — Half Brother
- Jacquelyn Shelton Lee — Mother
- Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, United States (BA in Communications, 1979); New York University, New York, New York, United States (MFA in Filmmaking, 1982)
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