Oscar category: Best documentary

I don't think the Oscar show was run live here in Beijing, and anyway I've been out interviewing people all day. (About Chinese coal mines and so on. Bracing!)

I had a personal though divided rooting interest in one category, Best documentary. There, one film that I hear is outstanding -- Taxi to the Dark Side, by Alex Gibney, son of the esteemed late writer Frank Gibney and brother of my friend and Atlantic colleague James Gibney (which I haven't seen because it has not yet shown up in the local pirate video stores) -- was up against another film that I know is outstanding. This is No End in Sight, by my friend Charles Ferguson. I had talked with Ferguson while he was developing this film and had a little cameo interview appearance in the final version.

Maybe they could share the prize?

Alex Gibney's film won, and sincere congratulations both to him and to Charles Ferguson for illuminating the consequences of America's perverse approach to "security" these last six years.

The odd part is, the clip that was shown at the Oscars to introduce No End was apparently of me talking, from my cameo interview. Via instant-feedback on Blackberry, I got a quick pulse on which of my friends and family were watching the Oscars (as I would have been, if in range) - and which were not. And, yes, in the "not" category I'm talking about you, Dad! Time to get back in touch with mass culture!

My ambition for next year: the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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