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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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    Can Anything Stop “Up in the Air”?

    By kyle | December 9, 2009

    Four years ago at this time of year, “Brokeback Mountain” was all anyone could talk about; then Oscar voters got sick of hearing about it and started fumbling around for another movie to give the Best Picture Oscar to, eventually settling on “Crash.” Three years ago no one had the slightest idea that “The Departed” would win the top prize as everyone was talking about how “Dreamgirls” would rule awards season. Two years ago, “Atonement” was thought to have an excellent shot at a Best Picture win — until people saw it and decided it was lame, which made voters back up and reconsider “No Country for Old Men.” And last year at this time everyone was really excited about “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” although they were also telling each other that “Slumdog Millionaire” was a cute underdog, even if it was obviously no match for the $150 million Brad Pitt extravaganza.

    My point is that the road to Oscar is long. “Up in the Air” is way, way out in front of the pack now, because those who have seen the pictures we all thought would be the leading contenders — “The Lovely Bones,” “Invictus” and “Nine” — know that none of the three films is a serious candidate for a top Oscar. So “Up in the Air” has to maintain its lead all the rest of this month and through January and February. Voters may decide to start reconsidering other movies they didn’t give much of a chance to initially–like “Precious” and (who knows?) maybe even “The Blind Side” and “Inglourious Basterds.” All three of these movies are $100 million hits (“Precious” will get there eventually). Then there is the wild card: “Up.” Top prize to an animated feature? It’s never happened before. But “Up” is a very special movie.

    I think that in the end, “Up in the Air” will, despite the disadvantage of front-runner status, indeed win this marathon and take home Best Picture, because it’s right for the time, because people love Clooney so much that they’re willing to give him an Oscar for growing a gut in “Syriana” and nominate him for a ludicrous thriller like “Michael Clayton,” and because the rival pictures are just a bit too out of the mainstream (in the case of “Basterds” and “Precious”) or a bit too solidly in the middle of the mainstream (“The Blind Side”). But don’t count out Quentin Tarantino for Best Director.

    Topics: Books, Movies, Oscars | 3 Comments »

    3 Responses to “Can Anything Stop “Up in the Air”?”

    1. Robert P. Says:
      December 9th, 2009 at 11:06 am

      I liked Up In the Air, but I just shake my head thinking it will be held in higher esteem than Inglourious Basterds (admittedly, I’m a Tarantino junkie though).

      Isn’t this basically George Clooney playing the same role he always does? I like Clooney as much as anyone else, but I just don’t see what makes this performance stand out.

      Oh well, that’s why you are the critic and I am just a fan of film.

    2. Pat Doherty Says:
      December 9th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

      I like Jason Reitman, but the thought of Clooney delivering another smug acceptance speech where he drones tediously and unironically about Hollywood’s superior moral values makes my skin crawl. There would also be the overwhelming cosmic injustice of Clooney having just as many Oscars as Daniel Day-Lewis.

    3. Terrence Says:
      December 10th, 2009 at 11:59 am

      But, “Up in the Air” is just a nice film. It is a nice story. I walked away saying, “I liked that,” but I have not raved about it to my friends.

      Simply put, because of the dearth of good films out there, a “good story, well told” (As Robert McKee likes to say), will win the Oscar.

      That’s too bad.