'Up In The Air' Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need To Know

Bone up on this buzzed-about flick before it takes off.

You hear that? It's the final boarding call for awards season. If your movie doesn't hit theaters soon, you're going to be left at the gate as the Oscars and Golden Globes take flight. "Up in the Air" will soar to 30,000 feet when it arrives in theaters on Friday (December 4), and it will do so in style, courtesy of Mr. George Clooney.

Clooney's Ryan Bingham is a connoisseur of the security check-in line, an aficionado of the airline upgrade, a guru of the skies. His day job may be as a corporate downsizer, but his real life is lived within the calming terminals and hotel suites he frequents almost every day of his life. Clooney, his co-star Anna Kendrick (a young downsizer on the rise), director Jason Reitman and the film itself are all being buzzed about as potential awards-season selections.

Before Oscar makes his picks, before the film hits theaters, check out our "Up in the Air" cheat sheet for everything you need to know about a movie that people will be talking about for a very long time.

Avoiding Post-'Juno' Depression

What do you do if your last film garnered four Oscar nominations, including one for Best Director? If you're Reitman, you fight through your creative fear and return to your roots. That's how the director found himself working on a screenplay he'd been drafting since before his 2005 debut: an adaptation of the Walter Kirn novel "Up in the Air."

After finishing the script, Reitman flew out to meet Clooney at his villa in Northern Italy. After much anxious delay and one wine-soaked dinner, Clooney said to Reitman, "It's great. I'm in."

Reitman decided he needed Kendrick — best known for her work in the "Twilight" series — for the role after taking in her performance in the 2007 indie comedy "Rocket Science." "She oddly talks like someone from the 1940s, and she's so witty and smart and sharp, and I needed a girl who could go toe-to-toe with George Clooney, and she was the one," he said.

The Festival Circuit

Like "Juno" before it, "Up in the Air" premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in September and immediately began attracting critical buzz. A couple of weeks later at the Toronto International Film Festival, the rave reviews continued to flood in. There was no doubting it now: The film was a certified critical darling with Oscar recognition in its future.

The First Visions

In October, the rest of the world got to see what folks were so excited about when the first trailer dropped. The trailer was followed by clips showcasing Clooney's quest to accrue oodles of frequent-flier miles, his insistence that he had no time to babysit the new girl, and one in which we saw that Kendrick does indeed go toe-to-toe onscreen with the Oscar winner.

The Cast Speaks

As the release date approached, we continued to chat with Reitman and the cast. At the Los Angeles premiere, Clooney joked about some of his less Oscar-worthy films and Kendrick revealed what it's really like to work with one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Kendrick also did her best to sell "New Moon" fans on the appeal of "Up in the Air," and Reitman had a good laugh about the "Twilight" series.

So is "Up in the Air" destined for Oscar glory? Will it become a classic? On that last question, Clooney says it's far too soon to tell.

"[You know a film is a classic] right about 10 years after it comes out. It takes awhile," Clooney said. "There are films that are very popular for a moment, and then they don't necessarily work 10 years later. Then there are films like — well, nobody went to see 'The Big Lebowski' when it first came out. It's interesting."

Check out everything we've got on "Up in the Air."

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