Newsweek’s David Ansen kind of sums up the rub of this Oscar year: how do you change the Oscars to include mainstream films the rest of the country can enjoy while also not selling your soul in doing so? The Academy aren’t going to vote for shitacular movies and yet that is what you find oozing out of the multiplex.¬† In other words, Big Hollywood needs to start taking the kinds of chances the indies do. We need William Goldman out there advising people that nobody really knows how a movie will play so why not take a chance? Easy for me to say – I’m not the one bankrolling it to the tune of $100 million. Ansen suggests that Up in the Air is right where it needs to be in terms of Oscar:
This year the Academy expanded the field of best-picture nominees to 10 in the hope that the longer list would include more mainstream, populist offerings, and thus broaden the telecast’s declining audience. Hollywood would be seriously embarrassed if the result instead is a lineup stacked with more small, independent movies and foreign fare‚Äîespecially in a year in which many of the studios, such as Warner Bros. and Paramount, shut down their independent boutiques and other distributors went out of business. It could well happen: in the first 10 months of the year the movies most often cited as contenders, such as The Hurt Locker, Precious, and An Education, have all been independent productions. Only Pixar’s universally adored Up, and long-shot studio hits such as District 9, Star Trek, and Julie & Julia, even enter the conversation. As Hollywood becomes more committed to movies based on videogames, comic books, and the hormonal fantasies of 16-year-old boys, the trend toward independent Oscar dominance will continue‚Äîif the indies can find people to bankroll their increasingly endangered efforts.
Reitman’s movie has hit the sweet spot: it’s an audience-friendly studio movie, yet it harbors an independent spirit and heart. If it gets Reitman his second best-director nomination, it’s not because he set out to get one, though he thinks he could handle the heights. He’s seen directors paralyzed by success after winning an Oscar, not that he worries about that, either. “I’m not going to have a perfect career,” he says. “It’s better to be Billy Wilder and make lots of movies and have five or six great ones than to make so few movies that when you make a bad one it crushes you.” Up in the Air is likely to be remembered as one of his best.
I like Reitman’s attitude about most things. He’s a laid back dude, doesn’t take things too seriously, has led a charmed life and thus feels no need to complain about it.