“Up in the Air” landed at just the right time, emerging as a potential Academy Awards favorite with themes of job loss and economic calamity that offer a heartbreaking yet hilarious reflection of these hard times.
The film grabbed a leading six Golden Globe nominations on Tuesday, including best drama, plus directing and screenplay honours for Jason Reitman. George Clooney earned a best dramatic actor slot as a frequent-flyer junkie travelling the country in first-class seats and premium car rentals as he fires the rank-and-file at downsizing companies.
“We just got a little lucky. Jason’s been writing this movie for like six or seven years now and it only really came about right at this moment, and he kind of adapted the screenplay to fit the times,” said Anna Kendrick, a supporting-actress nominee as a bright young efficiency expert whose innovations threaten the livelihood of Clooney’s character. “I think it’s a better movie for that.”
Kendrick’s competition includes “Up in the Air” co-star Vera Farmiga, who earned a supporting-actress honour as Clooney’s frequent-flyer dream woman.
Other drama picks were the space fantasy “Avatar,” the Iraq War tale “The Hurt Locker,” the World War II saga “Inglourious Basterds” and the Harlem teen story “Precious: Based on the Novel `Push’ by Sapphire.”
The musical “Nine” ran second with five nominations, including best musical or comedy and acting slots for Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard.
Also competing for musical or comedy are the romance “(500) Days of Summer,” the bachelor-party bash “The Hangover” and two Meryl Streep films, “It’s Complicated” and “Julie & Julia.”
Hollywood’s second biggest film honours after the Academy Awards, the Globes are a key ceremony that sort out the prospects leading up to the Oscar nominations on Feb. 2. The 67th annual Globes will be handed out Jan. 17, six days before voting closes for the Oscar nominations.
There will be room for more films this time at the Oscars, whose best-picture category has been doubled from five to 10 nominees. Oscar organizers hope the expanded field will open best-picture honours up to a broader mix of movies.
Three film contenders had two Globe nominations each: Streep, competing against herself for musical or comedy actress in the Julia Child tale “Julie & Julia” and the romance “It’s Complicated“; Sandra Bullock, nominated as dramatic actress in the football story “The Blind Side” and musical or comedy actress for the romance “The Proposal“; and Matt Damon as musical or comedy actor for the whistleblower satire “The Informant!” and supporting actor for the South African rugby drama “Invictus.”
Among television categories, nominations for drama series went to HBO’s “Big Love,” Showtime’s “Dexter,” Fox’s “House,” AMC’s “Mad Men” and HBO’s “True Blood.”
Musical or comedy series slots went to NBC’s “30 Rock,” HBO’s “Entourage,” Fox’s “Glee,” ABC’s “Modern Family” and NBC’s “The Office.”
“Up in the Air” has had a glowing reception from critics and awards watchers since it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, where Reitman also premiered his two earlier features, “Thank You for Smoking” and “Juno.”
Audiences have crowded theatres for the film, which so far has been playing in limited release before it expands nationwide on Dec. 23.
Though it has plenty of heavy moments, “Up in the Air” generally had been considered a comedy, and distributor Paramount submitted it for the Globes’ musical or comedy categories. The movie’s serious side clearly resonated with Hollywood Foreign Press Association members who hand out the Globes, since they designated it as a drama.
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