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Oscar Standoff: “Iraq in Fragments” vs. “An Inconvenient Truth”

Oscar Standoff: "Iraq in Fragments" vs. "An Inconvenient Truth"

By no means are my ears privy to insider Oscar talk, nor do I pretend to be a qualified Academy prognosticator, but I’ve been talking with some people and I think James Longley’s lyrical portrait “Iraq in Fragments” has an outside chance of beating Al Gore’s climate-change lecture juggernaut “An Inconvenient Truth” for the Best Documentary Oscar.

Global warming certainly made big headlines recently, but the war in Iraq remains American’s number one concern. And it certainly was on Academy voters’ minds when they turned in their ballots on Jan. 31, just a week after 25 U.S. soldiers died in a single day in Iraq, one of the bloodiest for the U.S. military since the war began.

With the Academy having some track record of political votes, I could see “Iraq in Fragments” pulling a surprise victory in a couple weeks. Not that Academy voters know a good film if it bit them in the ass (see last year’s “Crash” win over “Brokeback Mountain”), but the fact is that “An Inconvenient Truth” — despite Paramount Vantage’s impressive marketing — is a bit of a bore. “Iraq in Fragments,” beautiful, complex, even more urgent and the first movie to come along that touches on the current war with a deep, emotional power, is simply a stronger, more memorable film.

Sure, “Iraq in Fragments” only made $88,900 in ticket receipts, compared with “An Inconvenient Truth”‘s $24.1 milllion gross, and box-office is historically a major factor at the Academy Awards. But I’d make an outside bet that politics could trump commerce this time around.

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Paco de Onís

I agree that Iraq in Fragments should win, for all the reasons you state – let’s hope it goes that way, and that box office doesn’t trump the urgent need to keep the Iraq fiasco at the top of concerns and bring an immediate end to the war. The best thing that ever happened to Vietnam was the day we left – after that they sorted out their differences, and whatever violence it took to do that was no more than the violence we were inflicting on them. Same goes for Iraq – how much more violent could it get in Iraq? They need the space and time to figure out if they are going to continue as one country, or three, and we need to get out of the way. An Oscar to “Iraq in Fragment” will get more people to see this important film at this crucial time.

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