Jason Reitman began writing Up in the Air six years ago but put it aside to write and direct his first major feature, Thank You For Smoking. Dale Robinette/Paramount Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Dale Robinette/Paramount Pictures

Besides his role in The Messenger, Ben Foster's film credits include X-Men: The Last Stand (where he played the winged teenager Warren Worthington III) and the bleak Western 3:10 to Yuma. Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Getty Images

Life studies: A 16-year-old schoolgirl (Carey Mulligan, center) learns hard lessons — but also discovers a thing or two about the value of experience — as she navigates an affair with an older man. Kerry Brown/Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

itoggle caption Kerry Brown/Sony Pictures Classics

The Will To Survive: In a post-apocalyptic landscape where starving humans resort to cannibalism, a father (Viggo Mortensen) has one goal: to keep his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) alive — both fed and uneaten. Macall Polay/Dimension Films hide caption

itoggle caption Macall Polay/Dimension Films