Thursday, February 9, 2017

Oscar Movie Review: "Up in the Air" (2009)

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Movie"Up in the Air"
Year Nominated: 2010
Director: Jason Reitman
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

Ryan Bingham's (George Clooney) job is to fly around the country and fire people for companies in the process of downsizing. He enjoys life on the road and hates being at home. He soon finds his own job in jeopardy after a young college graduate named Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) offers up an idea for performing his job through video conferencing rather than in person. 

"Up in the Air" is directed by Jason Reitman, who also wrote the screenplay along with Sheldon Turner based on the book of the same name by Walter Kirn. It stars George Clooney as corporate downsizer Robert Bingham, who flies all over the country firing employees of companies too scared to do it themselves. He loves his lifestyle and his lack of roots. However, when young college graduate named Natalie Keener, played by Anna Kendrick, is hired by his company and offers the idea of implementing the use of a video conferencing system to fire people, it threatens Robert's lifestyle, and ironically, may make him obsolete and make him lose his job.

"Up in the Air" is partially about a man and the somewhat unconventional lifestyle that he loves, and is partially about how this same man does a job that no one else wants and must hear the stories of those he is firing day in and day out. He espouses the joys of having little property and few strong familial or friendship ties. In his mind, all of these things weigh a person down and stop one from truly experiencing life. He even has entire scripted talks and seminars that he gives companies and employees about how to reduce and let go of baggage. This film was quite timely the year it came out as it takes place shortly after the housing market and subsequent economic crash of 2008. During this time, layoffs were rampant, making someone in Robert's particular line of work very valuable. It is odd to watch a movie about a character who makes a living off of the suffering of others, but we're sure it happens more than we care to admit.

George Clooney does a spectacular job in this role as his charming yet commanding presence works perfectly for this character. He is so good here that he received a best actor Oscar nomination for his performance. One would expect to hate a guy like him, but we see that Robert actually understands what he is doing and empathizes as best he can with those affected by their imminent layoffs. What he does is a necessary part of life and he comprehends the gravity of his job, which is why he fights so hard against the video conferencing model because it takes away the humanity of something so personal to the hundreds and thousands of people he has to fire. Well, that and the fact that he doesn't want to be forced to stay at home.

There is a lot of wonderfully smart and witty humor throughout the film, even though it deals with a very difficult subject to digest. Anna Kendrick is also excellent in this movie and landed a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her role. We knew then and there that Kendrick was going places. Her co-star Vera Farmiga was also nominated for her part in this movie as well. In fact, "Up in the Air" was nominated for six Academy Awards, though it was unfortunately shut out. This winds up being an amazingly thoughtful, heartfelt, and pertinent film to its time. It is definitely worth watching and even remains excellent through repeat viewings.


My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
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Last Oscar season, we were watching: "The Big Chill"

Two Oscar seasons ago, we were watching"The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King"

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