earlier this week i finally got around to seeing "the descendants" - now i'm up to 4 of the 9 best picture nominees for the oscars.
not being a fan of director, alexander payne (election, sideways, about schmidt), i had very little interest in seeing this film other than i feel like i need to see every movie nominated for best picture (if only so i can intelligently trash the eventual winner). before seeing this film, all i kept hearing from friends was that "the descendants" was a good movie but not great. oscar worthy? not quite. colin and i have even discussed the film on two (make it three now) separate podcasts. he scoffed at the notion that george clooney was the frontrunner for best actor and when it was nominated for best picture he said "it's no 'godfather'".
but after seeing the descendants, i must admit that i enjoyed almost everything about this film. clooney was very good, newcomer shailene woodley was a revelation and the supporting cast were all spectacular in bringing their colorful characters to life. payne beautifully composed this film blending the natural charm and beauty of hawaii with the harsh choices people make, often with devastating consequences. though i think the film fell off a bit towards the end, the descendants was a great exploration into the idea of legacy and how fate (or chance) coupled with our choices can affect our legacy.
clooney, as matt king, is an heir to a vast and valuable piece of property left to him and his many cousins by his hawaiin royal ancestors. he is the sole trustee to that property and spends much of the film struggling with the decision whether to sell the land or keep it. throughout this film, he is tasked with confronting his legacy, both as a hawaiian (with the land) and as a father (with his children).
no hyperbole allowed rating: a-
rotten tomatoes: 90%
*editor's note: jim rash (aka dean pelton from nha's 4th ranked show of 2011, 'community') co-wrote this film and is nominated for best adapted screenplay at this year's oscars.