Up in the Air (2009) This was a colossal disappointment. George Clooney stars as a consultant who flies around the country as a corporate hired gun, firing people by day and living out of his suitcase in a hotel by night. His badge of honor is a humongous frequent flier lifetime scorecard. Living without roots or personal attachments of any kind is just fine by him. Everything changes when his company goes high-tech, essentially eliminating his free-wheeling life on the road just about the time he begins to form a relationship with a woman who shares his love for mass amounts of corporate travel.
This movie was a real downer and unnecessarily so. I liked the business side of the story, which remains very relevant. Turning the tables on the corporate executioner is an interesting idea, especially when he's paired with the young associate who's formulated the new virtual firing practices. Unfortunately, the personal side of the story abruptly veers off the path of a modern day Frank Capra film and into an ending that feels like an unsatisfying betrayal.
Wall-E (2008) I loved this movie, and what a surprise it was. For some reason, I had the impression Wall-E was going to be bleak and tinged with sadness. Not so! It's a wonderful little story filled with hope, humor, romance and gorgeous visuals. After the human race has trashed Earth and left it to rot, a lone robot named Wall-E patrols the wasteland looking for treasures. His only company is a pet cockroach, naturally. When a probe visits Earth to sample the conditions, Wall-E falls in love and inadvertently sets in motion events that will change the course of human history. I won't say anything more, since the surprises in store, and the clever details along the way, are half the fun.
Spider-Man 3 (2007) What a waste of time and money. The story added absolutely nothing to the franchise and the action sequences were extremely been-there-done-that. Every single character, including Tobey Maguire's web-slinging hero/photographer alter-ego, was an exercise in exasperating annoyance.
The Blind Side (2009) I knew nothing about this story going into it and was curious to see what kind of performance garnered Sandra Bullock an Academy Award. Neither one disappointed. This was a fine, if forgettable, film about pro football player Michael Oher, an underprivileged African American teenager who found himself under the protective wing of a privileged white woman and her family in an affluent Tennessee suburb. With a firm but caring hand, Bullock's character fights in Michael's corner, helping him on the football field and off to give him the opportunity to better himself all the way to a star spot on a coveted college team. Bullock gives an uncharacteristic and convincing performance, putting a lid on her usual bubbly personality. The inspirational ending is achieved without resorting to generic Hollywood sports movie cliches or a soundtrack that telegraphs every emotion you're supposed to be feeling.
I've Loved You For So Long (2009) Elements of this story don't hold up to scrutiny after the fact, but that in no way detracts from Kristen Scott Thomas' enthralling performance as a woman reconnecting with her family and the outside world after spending an extended period of time in jail for murder.