Oscarthon: Best Picture- Up In The Air

A ten part series on the Best Picture nominees, structured around four basic questions.

Part 10: Up In The Air

Was It Any Good?

It was solidly entertaining and "important," like a fine Oscar-flavored wine. Even as someone let go at the beginning of 2008 due to the down economy, I didn't find the firing interviews intercut with the main story all that moving, but the stars and the even-handed direction make it a worthy effort.

George Clooney in particular is his usual self, which is a blessing for the film overall, but a little bit of a hindrance for the character- does anyone really buy that someone so seemingly mature would be hung up on collecting airline miles? I didn't, and the early-film petulance as Ryan Bingham tried to cling to his solitary way of life rang a little false as well. But Clooney, the eternal bachelor, was of course the perfect choice to play the second half of the film as he contemplates coming down to earth.

Would I See It Again?

I think so- the supporting cast, especially Anna Kendrick, make it worth repeat viewings, and I find the subtle Rolfe Kent score growing on me. Reitman knows, of course, how to find a catchy soundtrack, and found airports fertile ground for memorable images.

Again, I could care less about the idea of being fired. Most of the victims in the film are shrugged off as soon as they leave the screen, except for one late breaking revelation (mild spoiler) about a woman who commits suicide, an element seemingly played for laughs and then mined for underserved pathos.

Other than Jason Bateman's well=played sleazeball, there's nothing really gained from the entire premise. But everyone is just so damn likeable, and Young MC randomly shows up!

What Did It Acheive?

Around the time of the Toronto film festival, it looked like Up In The Air was the clear Best Picture frontrunner, and Clooney was on the was to his second Oscar. The tides clearly have changed since, as Bridges will win easily, and voters loved The Hurt Locker and District 9 so much they forgot to even nominate Up In The Air for Editing (a deathblow).

But Reitman is now in the critical stratosphere, having moved from farce (Thank You For Smoking) and tweeness (Juno) into Serious Oscar Movies. Kendrick should get work outside of Twilight sequels for sure, and Farmiga can add Oscar nominee to her growing resume. Clooney- he was already a huge likeable star.

Will I Remember It Years From Now?

Whether it worked for me or not, the employment crisis angle lends a lot of timeliness to Up In The Air that will fix it in memory. It's also somewhat universal for anyone who's ever traveled alone. It hits a lot of cliches (a groom with cold feet? Really?) but has the right cast and director to hit them very well.

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