Just saw Up in the Air with George Clooney on Christmas Day with my son Andrew (we’ll be connecting with Tom over New Years).

I heartily recommend it for anyone who wants to see a smart, funny, insightful movie.

It makes my list of the most intriguing movies from the last decade.

Why?

It has “You had me at hello” dialogue from start to finish.

What a concept.

That’s exactly what Avatar did NOT have.

You would think Director James Cameron could have taken $1 million of the reportedly $350 million it costs to make Avatar and spend it on a screenwriter of substance who could have provided some thought-provoking, meaningful dialogue instead of the laughable stereotypes and instantly forgettable lines that undermined the movie’s impact.

Novelist Somerset Maughm was once asked the secret to writing a classic that had enduring impact. He said, “There’s got to be a man behind the book.”

Well, there’s got to be a man behind the movie too, and there obvioulsy are thinking men (director Jason Reitman and Walter Kirn, author of the book on which the film is based) behind Up in the Air. Their subtle insights make it a timely and timeless movie I would eagerly see again.

In fact, that’s Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday’s criteria and organizing principles for her Top Ten Films of the Decade. “Would I want to watch this movie over and over and over again?”

That’s why her top pick of the decade is (drum roll, please) . . . Finding Nemo

She selected the movie about the little clown fish because “it so aptly symbolizes how important animated family features have become in the movie business . . . think masterworks WALL*E and UP . . . and because “it’s the movie I reach for first and put in heavy rotation on our family DVD player.”

Check http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/24/AR2009122400144.html for more insights into what Hornaday picked and why.

And keep an index card with this question by your computer to hold yourself accountable for producing prose that keeps people turning pages and on the edge of their seats.

Would people find this so intriguing and enjoyable; they’d want to read it and/or watch it again and again?

If so, kudos.

If not, back to the drawing board.

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