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Half Nelson

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Original title
Half Nelson
Running time
106 min.
United States United States
Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden
Andrij Parekh
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Drama | Education. Drugs. Friendship. Independent Film (US)
Official Site
Synopsis / Plot
Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) is a young inner-city junior high school teacher whose ideals wither and die in the face of reality. Day after day in his shabby Brooklyn classroom, he somehow finds the energy to inspire his 13 and 14-year-olds to examine everything from civil rights to the Civil War with a new enthusiasm. Rejecting the standard curriculum in favor of an edgier approach, Dan teaches his students how change works – on both a historical and personal scale – and how to think for themselves.

Though Dan is brilliant, dynamic, and in control in the classroom, he spends his time outside school on the edge of consciousness. His disappointments and disillusionment have led to a serious drug habit. He juggles his hangovers and his homework, keeping his lives separated, until one of his troubled students, Drey (Shareeka Epps), catches him getting high after school.

From this awkward beginning, Dan and Drey stumble into an unexpected friendship. Despite the differences in their ages and situations, they are both at an important intersection. Depending on which way they turn – and which choices they make – their lives will change.
2006: Nominated for Oscar: Best Actor (Ryan Gosling)
2006: National Board of Review (NBR): Breakthrough Performance - Male
2006: Film Critics Circle of New York: Best First Film. 3 Nominations
2006: American Film Institute (AFI): Top 10 - Movies of the Year
2006: Sundance Film Festival: Official Selection
2006: Film Critics Circle of New York: Best First Film. 3 Nominations
2006: 2 Nominations for Critics' Choice Awards: Best Actor (Gosling), Young Actress (Epps)
2006: Independent Spirit Awards: Best Actor (Gosling) & Actress (Epps). 6 Nominations
2006: Screen Actors Guild (SAG): Nominated for Best Actor (Gosling)
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