Did you see the movie? If so, did you find the movie to be anti-union, yes or no? Why be facetious about it?
The movie was made by people in unions, and despite the fact that part of the movie is about the notion in poor neighbourhoods of people hoping to "win the lottery" and make it into a charter school says nothing about charter schools and everything about the desperation of many bright inner city kids who want out of that life, away from the drugs and the gangs and the violence.
The movie points the finger in many directions and leaves us without any clear resolution, without any big revelation by the end, and that is one of the reasons why it wasn't nominated for an Oscar this year, although it did make the short list of 15.
Davis Guggenheim is a previous Oscar winner for "An Inconvenient Truth", the oddly riveting Al Gore enviro-presentation doc. That was a movie that documentarians love (note: documentarians nominate the movies in this category, and they tend to, like most audiences, reward films that pack a punch by the end).
"Waiting For Superman" doesn't pack a punch. It is too thoughtful for that.
Politics has something to do with it as well: documentarians want their movies seen by as many people in the general public as possible, and from the moment it was received well by critics and audiences alike, the idea that it would be a film that would find itself in classrooms all over the country where educators and students alike could discuss and debate it, the documentarians decided that WFS had "made it", so they chose 5 other movies in the hopes that they too can be seen by hopefully as many people.
"Hoop Dreams" is now considered one of the quintessential American docs of all time, as director Steve James followed the lives of two adolescent boys through high school and their dreams of making it to the NBA. What was supposed to be a basketball movie turned into so much more than that, a thoughtful study of the trials and tribulations of one boy who seems to have it made, and one who will have to overachieve in order to stay a few full lengths back of the other.
That movie was a "downer" too because it did not end with the big game, did not build up to a "climax" but simply keeps its eyes open and just shows these lives unfolding. The twists and turns are to be noticed in the everyday struggle, not just the big game. That movie was not nominated either.
The Academy leans liberal, that's for sure, but since Guggenheim is already a big name, and since he's a previous winner just 4 four years ago, and because his movie does not have the pure emotional power of the other 5 that were nominated, it just missed the cut.
The 5 movies nominated in the feature-length documentary category are "Restrepo", the fascinating Afghan war doc that follows one platoon there, "Inside Job" about the Wall St. collapse, "Waste Land", the most inspiring artistic statement ever made on film having to do with trash, "Exit Through the Gift Shop", the audience favorite going into the Oscars about graffiti artists, and "Gasland", the riveting documentary about natural gas in America.
Trailers for "Restrepo" and "Inside Job" one of which I predict will win the Oscar on Sunday.
YouTube - INSIDE JOB Official Trailer in HD!
YouTube - "Restrepo" Trailer
I've seen all 15 movies that made the short list, and to be quite honest, I just can't see which of these 5 I'd be able to take out in order to put WFS in, a movie that is wonderful in it's own right, and which was cheered by Hollywood and everyone else upon it's release, but is a tough sell as Oscar bait, because the Academy trends towards films that inspire more than films that are just sobering or thoughtful.
I pick "Inside Job" as the winner because Charles Ferguson's last big doc was the Iraq War analysis "No End In Sight", which had been in the running and was the favorite going in, but which lost 3 years ago to "Taxi to the Dark Side", the Afghan War doc. "Inside Job" is the only film I've seen that successfully explained to me how derivatives and credit default swaps work.