The Descendants

I have a question for the universe. How did George Clooney situate himself in you (the universe) so perfectly that he can do no wrong whatsoever? It’s a superhuman task, and as far as I know, Clooney is a real human. Or maybe he is not. I don’t know. But the man is magnificent.

Granted, his current choice of girlfriend is confusing, but I’ll let that slide. I’ll also give him a break for not being totally believable as a “regular guy” who lives in Hawaii. He, like Pitt and Roberts and Hanks, are officially Too Famous To Be Regular People Anymore. It happened a long time ago for Roberts, and Clooney not long after. Hanks hit the mark with that dumb movie, Charlie Wilson’s War (how Sorkin is attached to this, I’m not sure), which also starred Roberts as a blonde version of herself, and for Pitt, I think it happened with Moneyball, though I haven’t seen it yet. Granted, we’ve know who these people are for some time, but they’ve afforded themselves a certain amount of chameleonicity–yes, that’s a word, shut up–in many past roles.

Anyway, yeah. I found myself painfully aware of the fact that it was Clooney and not Matt King on the screen, though his Matt King was an interesting, pressured, somewhat held back man with a shit-ton of problems on his plate. I applaud the writers, Jim Rash (Dean!) and Nat Faxon, for writing such blunt, layered characters and letting very pretty people dig deep and discover them. Clooney is a beautiful man, of course, and I think he knows it, so he did his best to let his age really show and allow King’s unfortunate circumstances to wash over him. Therein lies the Oscar nod.

Onto Shailene Woodley, who was pleasant and refreshing as a… potty-mouthed brat. I suspect that her stint on The Secret Life of the American Teenager probably had a hand in her being able to fish out a post-adolescent’s emotional problems, but I also think she has a wonderful, varied career ahead of her. And Amara Miller! She’s from Pacific Grove! That’s near where I grew up! Props, young ‘un.

The story of The Descendants is an incredibly depressing one, and certainly one that I wouldn’t normally expect to be nominated for Best Picture. But I think it’s the subtlety and honesty with which each character is portrayed (and written) that drives it into the upper cinematic echelons. It wasn’t the best movie of the year, but it was the most surprising one I’ve seen thus far (save for J. Edgar, which surprised me with its suckiness). Of course, the Cloons didn’t help with the whole nomination thing, either.

I think my favorite scene was the final one, over which the credits played. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but I’ll just say that it made me tear up more than the entire movie, and when you boil it down, the entire movie was about a family coping with the wife and mother’s fatal boating accident.

PS, Rob Huebel! Judy Greer! Huzzah!