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She may have been a contentious issue in the mayoral election, but yesterday former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee got one step closer to bringing the crew of Waiting for “Superman” an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences narrowed the field to a 15-title shortlist. Rhee was a featured player—perhaps even the titular superhero—in the two-hour treatise on education reform, charter schools, and breaking the will of teachers’ unions.
Despite my best efforts, Waiting for “Superman” is in the hunt for the Oscar and if the track record of the team behind it is any measure, it’ll most assuredly get a nomination and possibly the award itself. Paramount Vantage, Participant Media, and director Davis Guggenheim—he of the spoiler-free-but-politically-accusatory interview policy—won the 2006 prize for best documentary with An Inconvenient Truth, while Melissa Etheridge nabbed Best Original Song for “I Need to Wake Up,” a smarmy, manipulative ballad about recycling and using CFL light bulbs. Oh yeah, Waiting for “Superman” had one of those too, courtesy of John Legend, a singer whose purpose I’ve never understood beyond existing chiefly to bridge the gap between Michael Bublé and will.i.am. If history repeats itself, Rhee may find herself name-dropped in a few acceptance speeches at the 83rd Academy Awards next February.