Top 25 Countdown — No. 10


Today I continue my Top 25 countdown with the first entry in my personal Top 10.

No. 10 — Up In The Air (2009)
Starring: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, and Vera Farming
Director: Jason Reitman
Quote: "The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places; and one of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over." — Ryan Bingham
About: 2009 was a rich year for films, but to me nothing reached the heights of "Up In The Air." It was a film that was recognized by the Academy members, garnering six nominations, including for all three principle actors, director, and screenplay along with Best Picture. It was by far my favorite film of the year, and remains so six years later. But I knew that was the kiss of death. And in the end, it didn't win a thing. That was the year of "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker." And six years later, I can't imagine wanting to watch those movies again. But I could watch "Up In The Air" once a month and still love it. This was the end of an outstanding streak for Reitman as a writer/director. He'd given us "Thank You For Smoking" in 2005 and "Juno" in 2007, but "Up In The Air" might have been his masterpiece. And it was a fantastic piece of adapted writing — because having read the novel I can tell you the movie is almost entirely different, and better. I loved the performances. This is probably the best performance in Clooney's career. He is incredible in this role, and really draws you in. But he's surrounded by two great performances, too. Farmiga and Kendrick are great, too. I had hoped Kendrick in particular would win for her work in this film, but alas it wasn't to be. There are a lot of memorable moments in this film, and it's a beautiful blend of comedy and drama. But there are two reasons I'm really drawn to this film. First, I think it's a heartbreakingly accurate depiction of what America was experiencing during that era. This is right after the housing bubble burst. The recession was real. And corporations were realizing they couldn't exist as they had in eras past. And you see that on the screen. Reitman's decision to include real people who'd recently been downsized gives the film a gravitas that is undeniable. Second, this is a beautiful story about how to live life, and the importance of connections. It's beautiful, it's moving, and it's heart-breaking. That's because of Clooney's performance and Reitman's script. The arc of the characters is stunning, and some of the beautiful dialogue has always stuck with me. I love this movie, and I suspect I always will.
Rating:  R for language and some sexual content.

Top 25 Countdown:
11. Die Hard (1988)
12. Doubt (2008)
13. Way of the Gun (2000)
14. Heat (1995)
15. The Paper (1994)
16. Watchmen (2009)
17. LA Confidential (1997)
18. Serenity (2005)
19. Children of Men (2006)
20. Miller's Crossing (1990)
21. About Schmidt (2002)
22. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
23. The Matrix (1999)
24. Independence Day (1996)
25. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

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