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The Box Office is heating up!

This year’s holiday film releases are heating up, this weekend check out The Blindside,  if you haven’t already, The Christian Film Examiner rates it as one of the best films of the year!

George Clooney as Ryan Bingham in Up in the Air this weekend in select theaters.
Justin Rietman

Human Drama fills the theaters this weekend with The Messenger, Up in the Air, Invictus and The Lovely Bones.

We often think of the cost of war for the families who send their husbands, fathers and daughters to war, then, never see them again. The Messenger shows the toll such news takes on the men assigned to deliver the news of these deaths. The story follows Captain Tony Stone played by Woody Harrelson/, a casualty notification expert who instructs Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) on the procedures for letting folks on the home front know that their loved ones have been killed overseas. Reviewers across the board have called this film, grim, troubling and rich. It earns it’s R-rating, brimming with violence, language and obvious nudity, however, reviewers, including those from national Christian publications are giving this film a thumbs up and expecting it to be a part of the Oscar buzz.

Up in the Air  stars George Clooney as ‘corporate downsizer’ Ryan Bingham, a more interested in racking up frequent flier miles than in investing emotionally with people around him. His personal soul-searching becomes the center of the film's storyline, but be warned, this is not just a belly laughing comedy, the sting of job loss is very much in the foreground.

Adapted from Walter Kirn's 2001 novel of the same name, it was originally intended as a satire about corporate downsizing but as production neared, the economy collapsed and the story, just wasn’t funny anymore. Director Jason Reitman felt compelled to alter the story to reflect the reality of the times. While scouting locations in St. Louis and Detroit, he placed help-wanted ads in local newspapers to recruit people to appear in a "documentary about job loss." The resulting footage, in which people speak candidly about the emotional toll of being laid off, gives the film that dimension.

The realism and humor combined might make for an interesting movie experience or a cathartic therapy session.

Invictus tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup Championship match. Directed by Clint Eastwood and featuring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.

The Lovely Bones

Blending a story on film of murder, involving a child and the supernatural can be tricky. Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel, The Lovely Bones, meets that challenge with artistry taking you on an emotional and intellectual ride. The victim Susie Salmon, is a ghost, murdered before the story starts telling her tale from Heaven. Holding true to Sebolds writing, Peter Jackson has found a way to bring the image of heaven to earth or vice versa and he does it with stunning beauty.

Jackson’s brings a vision of heaven, through Susie’s eyes that will captivate and move an audience. He has an ability to create images that seemingly to morph as you watch them. He transforms scenes with a swirling eloquence, taking the viewer from a one place to another with breathtaking artistry.

This story is not just about the mystery, it’s not just a whodunit or a thriller about whether the killer will be caught. It’s a drama about grief and letting go of it after a tragedy has turned the Salmon family’s life inside out. The cast is strong, with Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon, along with Michael Imperioli all blend together to create the sense of a family, a neighborhood, a mini-universe – all disrupted by the death of this girl. StanleyTucci portrays the creepy neighbor George Harvey, don’t be surprised if your skin crawls as you watch him on the big screen.

Bring your tissues and someone to cling to for any of these films, capturing human drama in an authentic way on film is one of the reason this writer loves going to the movies.