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January 25, 2011


Roger Thomas

Who cares? The simple fact was that "Waiting" was not a well-crafted film. The issue should be why "Armadillo", "The Oath" and "Last Train Home" - three films far and away superior to any of the nominated films - never even made it to the original short list.

Once again, the self-anointed pundits confuse "worthy" issue-based films with ones that are well crafted and made.


Fair enough, but one point: maybe the WFS folks weren't trying to wage an OSCAR campaign but were actually more interested in having an impact on the issue they cared about? As you point out, you don't court Oprah, Gates and the White House to get an OSCAR, but you DO court them if you care about education.

AJ Schnack

It's true that we can get plenty myopic when it comes to the Oscars on a day like today, and certainly if you're judging the 15 shortlisted films on which had the most impact on an issue, WAITING wins that contest in a walk (with GASLAND probably second).

But they did wage a significant campaign to try to win the Oscar - they took out "For Your Consideration" ads, they pushed (although not too hard) for a Best Picture nod and they pushed very hard for an Original Song nomination. They just waged the campaign in a different arena than the one they were actually competing in.


AJ, again, I have to compliment your sensibility. I'm really amazed at the feeding frenzy going on elsewhere and you have presented a very even and reasoned case to make sense of the "snub." Pace your last response. I think Paramount was a huge get for the film in terms of its success in getting its message that education is in crisis out there in the news cycles, how often do you see the machinery of a hollywood superstudio fully engaged in promoting a tiny film with a controversial but worthy aspiration? Their giant green hulk fingers are not well designed to do delicate miniatures. But to their credit, they believe in this film and it showed. I just think that the Academy ought to have been able to forgive the faux pas. Or do they really require such careful handling and are so easily offended? Apparently they do.


You might want to check that Washington Post article again ("Why Oscar snubbed ‘Superman’ -- deservedly so" at http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/school-turnaroundsreform/why-oscar-snubbed-superman---.html).

"Guggenheim edited the film to make it seem as if charter schools are a systemic answer to the ills afflicting many traditional public schools, even though they can’t be, by their very design. He unfairly demonized Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and gave undeserved hero status to reformer and former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. Guggenheim compared schools in Finland and the United States without mentioning that Finland has a 3 percent child poverty rate and the United States has a 22 percent rate."

And what's that "design" Strauss mentions? It's the fact that charter schools only let in the students they want, students who will net them the biggest bang for the buck, meaning that any prospective candidates who have learning difficulties, physical handicaps, or behavioral problems--issues that will cost them money to remedy--will not be selected.

Public schools are not allowed to be that choosy. So unless you actually want our public schools weighted down with "undesirable" students while the cream is skimmed off to for-profit institutions, then you might want to give "Waiting" a closer, clearer look.

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