In the days leading up to the Oscars, Sentimental Movie Marathon will take a look at each of the Best Picture Nominees. This is OSCAR BONANZA: TOO MUCH FILM IN YO’ FACE. In the seven hole, we have Up in the Air, starring Bruce Wayne III and directed by Juno.
1. WHAT IS UP IN THE AIR?
Up in the Air is a film adapted from a 2001 novel written by Walter Kirn. Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner adapted the novel for screen and Reitman directed the film. George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a man who travels around the country firing people. He is hired to fire! Topical! Vera Farmiga plays his luv interest, Alex Goran, and is not looking out for what’s wrong with Esther. Anna Kendrick plays young Natalie Keener, the goal-oriented career woman who is changing Ryan’s life (“No, he’s changing mine.”- Up in the Blind Side Air).
The film also has lots of cameos like JK Simmons, Zach Galifianakis, and Jason Bateman. Also, you are fucking out and Kenny Powers is fucking in this film. The film touches on corporate culture, being alone, family, the person we present to others, love, friendship, Cornell, Omaha Steaks, impressive cards, northern Wisconsin, Elliott Smith songs, and motivational speaking.
2. WHAT DOES UP IN THE AIR HAVE GOING FOR IT?
George Clooney is in it. It seems that after Batman & Robin, everything that Mr. Clooney has touches has turned into gold. There are only two types of movies that George Clooney is involved with these days: Oscar hopefuls and Ocean’s (N+1) where “N” is the number of the previous Ocean’s film. Watching George made me realize that even though he only plays cool, composed characters, he plays them well. There is a fine line between cool and trying-t0-hard that often gets crossed, but Clooney never seems to cross it. He does not even tightrope walk the line. He hangs on the side that is clearly demarcated “cool.” Like in this scene, where Ryan flashes some of his cool super-traveler cards
Aside from The Orphan, Vera Farmiga also has made some great career choices for herself (this movie and The Departed). With the way he is directing, Jason Reitman is positioning himself to be a force for the next 130 years (science). Juno 7: Juno in Space. “Honest to space-blog! I’m on my Marsburger phone!”
Vera Farmiga was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar for her role. In a surprising move, Anna Kendrick also was nominated for an Oscar. I say surprising because these ladies are IN THE SAME FILM. Pay attention readers! Kendrick is great. While the role could have been one-notey, Kendrick gives Natalie life, warmth, and depth. Kendrick never reduces Natalie to a device to move the plot along. I vote for Up in the Air 2: The Rise of Natalie to have a 2011 release.
(Sidebar: For some reason, Kendrick looks very familiar . . .
HER LIFE IS TWILIGHT!!!)
Up in the Air has a unique topicality among this year’s nominees. While some of the nominees are cartoons or metaphors or period pieces or about football, Up in the Air addresses a host of present Real American concerns (The Hurt Locker is also uniquely topical, but its intensity and focused subject matter occupy a different space than this film. Variety is the spice of life. Variety Spice!)
Speaking of variety, this film has that time-honored blend of comedy and drama (dramedy! comma!) that the Academy loves almost as much as war films.
3. WHAT WILL SHOOT UP IN THE AIR OUT OF THE AIR?
Up in the Air was an early Oscar favorite, but given the time to talk about films and the amount of nominees this year, such expectations have dulled. Being first, or close to first, out of the gate has given people a lot of time to think about the film and perhaps talk themselves out of its virtues. Academies be shopping.
The movie does not end as cleanly as some of the other films. Actually, there are a few of this year’s nominees that leave a lot of things UP IN THE AIR at their close, but the subject/ tone of this film are a easier to digest than some of the other films. This accessible quality could result in not being satisfied with the film’s closing shots. Again, nitpicking. See: above clip.
Up in the Air also had an Elliott Smith song in it. We all remember what happened to Good Will Hunting.
4. WILL I TOTALLY LOSE MY SHIT IF UP IN THE AIR WINS?
No! Up in the Air would be a great winner! Fun Fact: Jason Reitman is the youngest director to have two nominations for Best Director. Kids doing the darndest things! By darndest things, I mean, quality movie films that are worthy of the praise and awards given to them!