Find out now what we thought of it... Up In The Air (15)
Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman
Director: Jason Reitman
Film length: 109 minutes
In a nutshell: George Clooney won his sole Oscar for a supporting performance in ensemble drama Syriana, and has never won Best Actor. That could change, thanks to a gift of a part in the new film from Jason Reitman (Juno). Based on the 2001 Walter Kirn novel of the same name, it's the story of Ryan Bingham (Clooney) who's found the perfect job for a man who refuses to be tied down by relationships, family or even possessions: flying around the US, firing employees on behalf of downsizing corporations. On his travels, he hooks up with fellow frequent flier Alex (Farmiga), who's more than happy with no-strings hook-ups. But Ryan's whole lifestyle is in jeopardy when an ambitious young female colleague (Twilight's Kendrick) advocates making redundancies via webcam.
What's good about it? Smart, funny, charming Ryan is the perfect fit for 40-something ladies man Clooney, but the film's ace card turns out to be his interactions with the two women. Alex is a rarely seen character in films – the woman whose attitude to intimacy conforms to masculine rather than feminine stereotypes – while Kendrick's Natalie is even more unusual: a pretty ingenue whose function in the story is not a jot romantic. Clooney sparks effectively with both performers, but Up In The Air is at its best when all three collide in the joyous middle segment. Vox pops of real people who lost their jobs in the current downturn provide an unexpected poignant edge.
What's not so good? Reitman's film may veer away from lazy romcom formula, but you can bet that Ryan will learn valuable life lessons before the credits roll. If you agree that his paper-thin "empty backpack" philosophy doesn't bear up to much examination, his rejection of it is not surprising, and thus not truly satisfying.
So will Clooney win? He's highly fancied, but Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart (out here on Feb 19) is closing in on the rails. Academy voters like a bit of grit in their art, and maybe Gorgeous George is just a little too smooth this time to seal the deal.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Clooney debate: What do you think of his new beard? Check it out on Stylelist now