Now I know why Up in the Air got an Academy Awards nomination for Best Picture: It's a nice little package of story telling and characters and tying them together in a timely manner.
George Clooney is Ryan Bingham and he's a "transition specialist"-- ie, he's a consultant companies hire to fire people from their jobs. He travels a lot and he has the miles to prove it (350,000 miles a year). He loves his work and baggage-free life. His life makes some interesting turns when he's tasked to mentor a promising new comer in their company (played by Anna Kendrick) and he finally gets involved with a woman whom he shares his frequent flyer miles and love for life in the air (played by Vera Farmiga).
Director Jason Reitman (Juno) succeeds in making Ryan the character a real person. We know what his dreams are, his passion for his work, and his understanding of life. In a nice touch, there's a little subplot about Ryan's speaking and motivation career, where we see a speech he refines in the course of the movie. George Clooney doesn't do acting pyrotechnics, but his seamless performance of Ryan Bingham deserves the Oscar nod.
Up in the Air is a sad and funny movie that reminds us that change doesn't have to come in a good little package, whether it's getting fired from work, industry shake-ups, and meeting people that will change your outlook in life.
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