Monday, December 14, 2009

Up, Up and Away to Oscar Glory!

It’s incredibly rare when I agree with the film the Academy Awards picks as the “Best Picture” of the year. It’s not that the movies that win the coveted statue are bad perse; I just normally feel that there are other, more qualified films that better represent the best that a particular year of cinema had to offer. Films like THE ENGLISH PATIENT, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and SLUMDOG MILLIONARE were all good movies but none of them came close to matching the quality or impact of films like FARGO, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and THE DARK KNIGHT respectively. Well, this year when UP IN THE AIR takes the top honor at the Oscars the only sound you’ll hear from me is my rapturous, fully supportive applause because for once the Academy will have gotten it exactly right.

I’ll be perfectly upfront here. I don’t think UP IN THE AIR is my favorite film of the year, heck I’m not even sure it is the very best movie of the year. As it stands right now STAR TREK, UP, DISTRICT 9 and INGLORIOUS BASTERDS are all duking it out for that title, but UP IN THE AIR is pretty darn close. Having said that though I still fully stand by what I said in the preceding paragraph and allow me to explain why.

On a sheer quality level UP IN THE AIR deserves to be considered right up there with the best films of the year if not the decade. Jason Reitman more than proves that THANK YOU FOR SMOKING and JUNO weren’t flukes by making a film that easily tops them. No small feat indeed. The entire cast turns in award worthy performances, especially George Clooney who proves what a real movie star is actually made of by delivering a performance that at least equals, if not tops his one in MICHAEL CLAYTON. There is no one involved with the production that doesn’t completely bring their “A” game and for that alone the film deserves all the accolades that are being heaped upon it. However each of those brilliant individual pieces is only a portion of why this film deserves Oscar immortality.

Ten, fifteen, twenty years from now people will not only look back on UP IN THE AIR as one of the greatest artistic and technical achievments of this decade but also as one of the most deeply resonant and representative films of our times. It is a rare and truly wonderful thing indeed when one film can so perfectly capture one of, if not the greatest societally tumultuous conflicts of our time all while juxtaposing it with the universal truths and battles that rage within every human being’s soul.

UP IN THE AIR is a masterpiece deserving of being smothered with awards because it is not only the best cinematic snapshot of the world at large in 2009 but also perhaps one of the most real, poignant and effecting examinations of the human condition ever captured on film. I know people that have been laid off over the past 2 years that were absolutely devastated by this film. On the flip-side I know people who because of their own job stability were completely unaffected by the “downsizing” portion of the plot that were just as equally and deeply moved by the universal themes of companionship, family, friendship and belonging brought forth by Reitman and company. GQ magazine called UP IN THE AIR the “movie of the moment” and while I hate to blatantly steal while everyone is looking I couldn’t agree more. Unless you are a soulless robot UP IN THE AIR will hit you in some way, heck maybe more than one. It will make you think about the world we live in, how you fit into it and it will stick with you long after you’ve left the theatre. There’s no doubt in my mind that it will have the same exact effect decades from now, all the while giving future generations a glimpse into what it was like to be alive in 2009, by being one of the best things Hollywood had to offer that year. If that’s not the very definition of a “Best Picture” then I don’t know what is.


Megan said...

You know this movie made me cry. It was fantastic and hands down one of the best films of the year. I would not be upset if it got some Oscar notice.

Anonymous said...

I will rent this when its out.

Chris W said...

Rent? I say bah to your rent, support your local theatre! =-)

Adam said...

I saw the movie tonight. It's good, Chris, but, my god, "perhaps one of the most real, poignant and effecting examinations of the human condition ever captured on film"??? I'd have to respectfully say that that's taking it a bit far.