While Avatar is undeniably picture-perfect, revolutionary film art, I have to say I’m bitter at it for being such a big deal, it knocked Up in the Air out of this year’s Oscars’ Best Picture contention. Despite enjoying Avatar a lot, I think a small film like Up in the Air packed a more subtle punch and thus, I found it profoundly more meaningful – not to mention, hilarious.
A lot of critics made a huge deal about the Clooney-driven film because it is a “film that reflects our time”. This is true – seeing those people getting fired (and later learning that they were real people who actually did get fired and were willing to talk about it on camera to more deeply impact the film’s audience) was a thorn in my side – I was there. I was unemployed and jobless. It hurt. Like millions of North Americans affected by the economic crisis, I could relate to that aspect of the film and it brought me into a community in a way few film have done for ages. And few scripts would be clever enough to include hilarious jokes in a story of such cutthroat time-specific tragedy.
Up in the Air is such a special movie and at tomorrow’s Oscars, I know for a fact that if Avatar doesn’t win, it will be an incredible academy upset, one of those Oscar moments when everyone in the audience gasps in surprise – the biggest blockbuster of the year, the film that revolutionized camera techniques film marketing and exhibition and 3-D (holy Toledo, it was the best 3D EVER) NOT winning – Cameron’s biggest cinematic achievement since the over-bloated (and overrated) Titanic NOT winning – but… it’s so… big. And its big-ness is just so predictable. Ho-hum… the ‘King of the World’ does it again… I want to see the weak inherit the earth once again.
Up in the Air was the best film I’ve seen in ages – I laughed out loud and also appreciated the film’s look, and its message. The ‘twist ending’ was a total shock to me (as lame on my part as that sounds) and only enhanced for me, the point of the film at all. It’s a funny film and a REAL film, and the very last shot pierced right through my heart. It is the perfect way to use a single symbolic visual to capture a filmic thesis.
Sometimes I see films that remind me of why I was in Film Studies in the first place and Up in the Air was one of them. Of COURSE Avatar will win the Best Picture of the Year award. It’s a given. But Up in the Air for me, is a better fit – I think it’s a more memorable film and it better demonstrates the time in which we live, and the values and attitudes that our society holds and held in 2009.
As an aside, Up would be a huge coup too. Way to go, Avatar…