345. Up in the Air

Movie: Up in the Air

Release Date: December 4, 2009

Director: Jason Reitman

Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Danny McBride

Tag Lines: “The story of a man ready to make a connection.”

“Arriving this December.”

“From Paramount Pictures comes the story of a man ready to make a connection.”

“Arriving soon.”

Relevance: Every year in January for the past ten years or so the company I work for “downsizes.” It is an absolutely awful time to be working in the office on the day that it happens. Employees are nervous and on edge that they will be the next ones to be let go from their jobs. There is an overall sense of dread that fills the office. Most people after surviving a few years of layoffs (like me who has been with the company 25 years) have become a little numb to it but it’s still an unpleasant day.

In early 2010, the layoffs were still a little fresh and difficult to endure. That was about the time I went to the theater to see ‘Up in the Air.’ The plot of the movie follows Ryan Bingham (beautifully portrayed by George Clooney), a corporate “downsizer” that travels around the United States firing people from their jobs. Despite it hitting a little close to home (or work), I absolutely adored it. I love a movie that could make you laugh out loud in one moment and than in a split second you have tears rolling down your face. That was my experience with ‘Up in the Air,’ thanks mostly to George Clooney’s performance. I was always a fan of his from “Facts of Life” to “ER” to some earlier movies. His acting in 2007’s ‘Michael Clayton’ (see 354. Michael Clayton) was most impressive, but two years after that he gave what I would call the performance of a lifetime.

The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards that year including Best Picture. It was one of my favorite movies released in 2009 and although I didn’t predict it to win Best Picture (which it didn’t), it was by far my favorite film to be nominated in that category.

Today’s Thoughts: So here it is January. That time of the year again. Any day now I could be unemployed. Or will I be spared for another year? Only time will tell. Ironic that this movie lands at this particular time. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. Regardless, I am ready for all plausible scenarios and more importantly excited to be watching this movie again.

‘Up in the Air’ is still as fresh, funny, sad, thought-provoking and entertaining as it was when I saw it in early 2010. The screenplay is smart and original and the characters are brought to life by a wonderful ensemble. George Clooney is not only a pretty face, the man can act his ass off. The scene after a heartbreaking revelation where his character is on the phone with his co-star Vera Farmiga (who is equally fantastic) is mesmerizing. His eyes alone have all of the emotion the viewer needs to know how the character is feeling. It is both subtle and elegant.

I love movies that make me think. When I am leaving the theater, driving home and laying in bed that night still thinking about the themes and messages it presents, I know its a great movie. ‘Up in the Air’ is one of those movies. It’s a simple, human story but relevant to everybody regardless of their situation. In ten years from now, whether I am working in the same company or not, I will still love this movie. It will still be relevant.

Read this speech by George Clooney’s character and tell me how it won’t be:

How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel ’em? Now I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things. The things on shelves and in drawers, the knick-knacks, the collectibles. Feel the weight as that adds up. Then you start adding larger stuff, clothes, table-top appliances, lamps, linens, your TV.

The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. And you go bigger. Your couch, bed, your kitchen table. Stuff it all in there. Your car, get it in there. Your home, whether it’s a studio apartment or a two bedroom house. I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now try to walk. It’s kind of hard, isn’t it? This is what we do to ourselves on a daily basis. We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. And make no mistake, moving is living.

Now, I’m gonna set that backpack on fire. What do you want to take out of it? What do you want to take out of it? Photos? Photos are for people who can’t remember. Drink some ginkgo and let the photos burn. In fact, let everything burn and imagine waking up tomorrow with nothing. It’s kind of exhilarating, isn’t it?

So, “What’s in your backpack?”

Awards: Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year (nomination), Academy Award for Best Achievement in Directing, Jason Reitman (nomination), Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, George Clooney (nomination), Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Vera Farmiga (nomination), Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Anna Kendrick (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner, Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner (winner), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director, Jason Reitman (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – Drama, George Clooney (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Vera Farmiga (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Anna Kendrick (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Adapted, Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Leading Actor, George Clooney (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress, Vera Farmiga (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress, Anna Kendrick (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Editing, Dana E. Glauberman (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, George Clooney (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Vera Farmiga (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Anna Kendrick (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay, Adapted, Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Jason Reitman (nomination),, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor, George Clooney (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Vera Farmiga (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Anna Kendrick (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Editing, Dana Glauberman (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Achievement in Motion Pictures, Jason Reitman (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay, Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Anna Kendrick (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Best Film (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Actor, George Clooney (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress, Anna Kendrick (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress, Anna Kendrick (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, George Clooney (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, Vera Farmiga (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, Anna Kendrick (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay, Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner (nomination), PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman, Daniel Dubiecki (nomination), Writers Guild of America for Best Adapted Screenplay, Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner (winner).

Ways to Watch: Tubi, Crackle, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, DVD Availability.

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