Thursday, February 9, 2012

Oscar Edition Round 2: The Descendants

The Descendants (2011)
Writer: Kaui Hart Hemmings (novel), Jim Rash, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Matthew Lillard, Beau Bridges
Rating: R
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It's been a little while again, but not as long as before! I have much material to write about now, and this is just the first installment. I saw this movie with my family last weekend. This movie has been nominated for even more Oscars than the last entry (5 versus 2) and I can see why it is deserving. George Clooney received a nod for best actor, the directors, editors and writers received nominations, and the movie itself was nominated for best picture.

I can see why this is deserving of the nomination, but it's not my pick to win. I haven't seen them all, but I liked my previous entry's subject better. Here is just a little insight into it:

George Clooney (Ocean's Eleven) plays Matt King, a negligent husband and father wrapped up in his career and selling his family's property. He is awakened to his family by his wife's boating accident, which sent her into a coma, which is soon alerted she will never awaken from. All of a sudden, he finds himself amidst his old responsibility, plus responsible entirely for his two daughters, Alex (Shailene Woodley; The Secret Life of the American Teenager) and Scottie (Amara Miller), and frequently Alex's seemingly ne'er-do-well friend, Sid (Nick Krause; How to Eat Fried Worms).

Delving much further would give away too many plot points, so I'll continue with the "review" part.

Even though the writers (or adapters, I suppose) got nominated for an Oscar, I didn't really enjoy the dialogue of this movie. There was a lot of swearing, and (though I'm the first person to advocate it when it's necessary) it wasn't necessary at all. In my experience, swearing can use proper placement to aide an actor in reaching a powerful moment. In this particular case, while arguably "realistic" dialogue was created, the swearing certainly wasn't necessary, but I think that might be due in part (or even, in whole) to the actors not needing it.

Obviously, George Clooney is brilliant in everything he's ever done. At this point it goes without saying, George Clooney doesn't do things that he doesn't do well. His performance as Matt King was phenomenal. In contrast to her Secret Life fame, Shailene Woodley was absolutely brilliant, and newcomer Amara Miller complemented her and believably portrayed her sister. My biggest compliments, though, are to two others.

The first, to Nick Krause as Sid, Alex's friend. At the beginning of this movie, I wanted to punch Sid in his mouth. He always said the wrong thing and had no business being anywhere near the family, but by the end, he was lovable, charismatic, and you understood exactly why he and Alex were so close.  For such a young and inexperienced actor, Krause gave a brilliant performance.

 My second biggest compliment is to Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo). He plays a smaller role and only has dialogue in on scene. I won't give away the plot point in relation to him, but since I primarily knew him as Shaggy Rogers prior to this movie, I couldn't believe what brilliant acting talent he brought to the table. Sometimes, it's the most commonplace, typical characters that are the hardest to play, but Lillard was fantastic. Beau Bridges (Max Payne) also did a great job with his undersized role as one of Matt's cousins.

One of the main lessons I learned from this movie is how knowledge changes your perceptions of people, and I think that message was a great one to put out there, which is why this movie is so great .It would be an easy 5 stars if I hadn't been so turned off by some of the dialogue.

Overall, though, this is a great film, and I highly recommend it. Just don't take your kids unless they understand the frequent use of the "F-bomb". But that's why I put the ratings at the beginning :)

Thanks for reading (or not reading, in most cases)!! Let me know if you are, if you have any questions, or if you just have something to add!!

Until next time (very soon),
NAH