Stand and Deliver
What's it About
Based on real-life events, this inspirational drama concerns Jaime Escalante (Olmos), a Hispanic math instructor who institutes an advanced-placement calculus course in an under-resourced East L.A. public school. With a mix of humor and tough love, Escalante pushes a motley group of barrio kids to excel beyond their wildest dreams.
Why We Love It
Superbly directed by Menéndez for PBS's American Playhouse, "Stand and Deliver" is a cut above most motivational storytelling, because it bypasses sentimentality in favor of a more complex, authentic tone. Olmos is a marvel as Escalante, a brilliant but idiosyncratic educator, and he deservedly nabbed an Oscar nomination. Among a dynamic supporting cast, Lou Diamond Phillips also impresses as the troubled youth who faces a choice between gang life and academic glory.