The Descendants

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The Descendants
A man looking over his shoulder at the beach behind him, two people standing in the distance by the water.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlexander Payne
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onThe Descendants 
by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Starring
CinematographyPhedon Papamichael
Edited byKevin Tent
Production
company
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • September 10, 2011 (2011-09-10) (TIFF)
  • November 18, 2011 (2011-11-18) (United States[1])
Running time
115 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$20 million[3]
Box office$177,243,185[4]
 
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For other uses, see Descendants (disambiguation).
The Descendants
A man looking over his shoulder at the beach behind him, two people standing in the distance by the water.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlexander Payne
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onThe Descendants 
by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Starring
CinematographyPhedon Papamichael
Edited byKevin Tent
Production
company
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • September 10, 2011 (2011-09-10) (TIFF)
  • November 18, 2011 (2011-11-18) (United States[1])
Running time
115 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$20 million[3]
Box office$177,243,185[4]

The Descendants is a 2011 American drama film[5] directed by Alexander Payne. The screenplay by Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash is based on the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings. The film stars George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard and Robert Forster, and was released by Fox Searchlight Pictures in the United States on November 18, 2011[1] after being screened at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.[5]

Tracing the journey of land baron Matt King who struggles with unexpected occurrences in his monotonous life, The Descendants was released to positive reviews from critics and won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as two Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture – Drama and Best Actor – Drama for Clooney.

Plot[edit]

Matthew "Matt" King (George Clooney) is a Honolulu-based attorney and the sole trustee of a family trust of 25,000 pristine acres on Kauai island. The land has great monetary value, but is also a family legacy. While Matt has always ably managed his own finances, most of his cousins have squandered their inheritances. With the trust expiring in seven years due to the rule against perpetuities, the King clan is pressuring Matt to sell the land for tens of millions of dollars. Amidst these discussions, a boating accident has rendered Matt's wife, Elizabeth, comatose.

With Elizabeth hospitalized, Matt is forced to cope with his two troubled daughters, 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller) who seeks attention by bullying other children, and 17-year-old Alex (Shailene Woodley) who has a history of substance abuse and is away at a private boarding school on the Big Island. Doctors determine that Elizabeth's coma is irreversible and her living will directs all life support to be discontinued. When Matt tells Alex, she reveals that Elizabeth was having an affair at the time of the accident, causing a major rift between mother and daughter.

Two close family friends tell Matt that Elizabeth was unhappy and wanted to leave him for her lover, Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard), a real estate agent. After Matt arranges for friends to bid Elizabeth goodbye, he decides Speer should also have an opportunity. He and the girls, and also Alex's slacker friend Sid (Nick Krause), travel to Kauai to find Brian. While there, Matt's cousin, Hugh (Beau Bridges) mentions that Brian is brother-in-law to Don Hollitzer, the developer the family wants to sell the land to. Brian stands to make a small fortune from the sales commission.

Matt confronts Brian and informs him Elizabeth is dying and offers him an opportunity to see her one last time. Brian declines, admitting that although Elizabeth was in love with him, it was only a fling to him; he loves his wife, Julie (Judy Greer) and their children, then apologizes to Matt for the pain he caused.

When Elizabeth is disconnected from life support, her father, Scott (Robert Forster) admonishes Matt for not being a more generous and loving husband. Matt agrees, but Sid and Alex both unexpectedly defend Matt.

At the King family meeting, Matt overrules the majority of his cousins who favor selling to Hollitzer. Matt decides to keep the land and look for a different solution to the problem posed by the Rule Against Perpetuities. Shocked, Hugh tells Matt that he and the other cousins will take legal action if Matt refuses to sell, but Matt is undeterred.

Matt finally comes to terms with his wife's betrayal and her impending death. He tenderly kisses her goodbye, followed by Alex and Scottie, and later, scatter Elizabeth's ashes in the ocean off Waikiki. The film concludes with the three at home sitting together sharing ice cream and watching television, all wrapped in the decorative blanket Elizabeth had been lying in.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film began its on-location shoot in Hawaii on March 15, 2010.[6] Most of the film was shot in Honolulu and around Hanalei Bay.[7] The house used as Matt King's house had a flaw in that it lacked the banyan tree described in the book; the filmmakers solved the issue by transplanting a banyan.[7] For the scene where the King family drives up to a ridge to look over their land, the film used a 3,000-acre private cattle ranch on the south shore of Kauai, Kipu Ranch. Kaui Hart Hemmings, the author of the novel on which the movie was based, had a cameo as Matt King's secretary.

The private boarding school attended by Alex King was depicted as Mid-Pacific Institute, which is in Honolulu, Oʻahu. This contradicts the scene in the movie where Matt and Scottie travel by plane to the Big Island to pick-up Alex. Kaui Hart Hemmings stated that Hawaii Preparatory Academy, which is located in Kamuela, Hawaiʻi (the Big Island), was the inspiration for the private boarding school.[8]

Post-production began on June 14, and continued into February 2011.[9] It screened at the Telluride, Toronto[10] and New York film festivals and was originally scheduled to have a limited release on December 16, 2011, but was moved to November 23, 2011[11] and then November 18, 2011.[1][12]

The soundtrack uses Hawaiian music, featuring artists including Gabby Pahinui, Ray Kane, Keola Beamer, Lena Machado, Sonny Chillingworth, Jeff Peterson, Makana, and Reverend Dennis Kamakahi.[13]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The Descendants opened in North America on November 16 2011 in a Limited release in 29 theaters and grossed $1,190,096 averaging $41,038 per theater and ranking 10th at the box office. The film then has its Wide release on December 9 in 876 theaters and grossed $4,380,138 averaging $5,000 per theater and ranking 7th at the box office. The film was in cinemas for 156 days and its widest release in The United States was 2,038 theaters. The film ended up earning $82,584,160 domestically and $94,659,025 internationally for a total of $177,243,185.[14]

Critical response[edit]

The Descendants received critical acclaim upon release, with many critics praising the acting (particularly Clooney and Woodley). On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 89% based on 235 reviews with an average rating of 8.1 out of 10. The consensus states "Funny, moving, and beautifully acted, The Descendants captures the unpredictable messiness of life with eloquence and uncommon grace."[15] The film also has a score of 84 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 43 reviews.[16]

Top ten lists[edit]

The Descendants has appeared on the following critics' top ten lists for the best films of 2011:

CriticPublicationRank
Todd McCarthyThe Hollywood Reporter1st[17]
Betsy SharkeyLos Angeles Times1st[17]
Don KayeMSN Movies1st[17]
Lou LumenickNew York Post1st[17]
Stephen HoldenThe New York Times1st[17]
Marshall FineHollywood & Fine1st[17]
Joe NeumaierDaily News2nd[17]
Ann HornadayThe Washington Post2nd[18]
Peter TraversRolling Stone3rd[19]
Corben CarpenterClear Lake3rd[17]
Michael PhillipsChicago Tribune4th[17]
Anne ThompsonindieWire4th[17]
Peter RainerThe Christian Science Monitor5th[17]
Lisa SchwarzbaumEntertainment Weekly6th[17]
Sean AxmakerMSN Movies6th[17]
David DenbyThe New Yorker7th[17]
Peter HartlaubSan Francisco Chronicle7th[17]
Jaime N. ChristleySlant Magazine7th[17]
Peter ParasE! Online7th[20]
Richard T. JamesonMSN Movies9th[17]
N/AMTV9th[17]
Jack GregsonScreenGeeks UK9th[17]

Accolades[edit]

List of awards and nominations
Awards GroupCategoryRecipients and nomineesResult
84th Academy Awards[21]Best PictureJim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim TaylorNominated
Best Actor in a Leading RoleGeorge ClooneyNominated
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best EditingKevin TentNominated
Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim RashWon
Argentine Academy of Cinematography Arts and Sciences Awards[22]Best Foreign FilmAlexander Payne, Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, and Jim TaylorNominated
American Film Institute[23]Movies of the YearWon
Art Directors Guild[24]Contemporary FilmJane Anne Stewart (Production Design)Nominated
Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts[25]Best Film – InternationalNominated
Best Screenplay – InternationalAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim RashNominated
Best Actor – InternationalGeorge ClooneyNominated
Boston Society of Film Critics Award[26]Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best ActorGeorge ClooneyNominated
Best Use of Music in a FilmNominated
65th British Academy Film AwardsBAFTA Award for Best FilmJim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim TaylorNominated
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading RoleGeorge ClooneyNominated
BAFTA Award for Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim RashNominated
Casting Society of America[27]Outstanding Achievement in Casting for a Big Budget Drama FeatureJohn Jackson, John McAlaryNominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Awards[28][29]Best FilmNominated
Best Adapted ScreenplayNominated
Best EnsembleNominated
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyNominated
Actor of the YearGeorge Clooney (Also for The Ides of March)Nominated
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyWon
Breakthrough Film ArtistShailene WoodleyNominated
Chicago Film Critics Association[30][31]Best PictureNominated
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyNominated
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyNominated
Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashNominated
Best Promising PerformerShailene WoodleyNominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards[32]Best PictureNominated
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyWon
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyNominated
Best Young Actor/ActressShailene WoodleyNominated
Best Acting EnsembleNominated
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim RashNominated
Denver Film Critics Society[33]Best FilmNominated
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyNominated
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyWon
Best Supporting ActressJudy GreerNominated
Best Breakout StarShailene WoodleyNominated
Best ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim RashWon
Detroit Film Critics Society[34]Best FilmNominated
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyNominated
Breakthrough PerformanceShailene WoodleyNominated
Florida Film Critics Circle[35]Best PictureWon
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyWon
Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashWon
Golden Globe Awards[36]Best Picture – DramaWon
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best Actor – DramaGeorge ClooneyWon
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyNominated
Best ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim RashNominated
Grammy Awards[37]Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual MediaNominated
Independent Spirit Awards[38]Best FilmNominated
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best Supporting FemaleShailene WoodleyWon
Best ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashWon
Los Angeles Film Critics Association[39]Best FilmWon
Best ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashNominated
MTV Movie Awards[40]Best Breakthrough PerformanceShailene WoodleyWon
National Board of Review[41]Top 10 FilmsWon
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyWon
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyWon
Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashWon
New York Film Critics Online[42]Best ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashWon
Online Film Critics Society[43]Best PictureNominated
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyNominated
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyNominated
Best Adapted ScreenplayNominated
Palm Springs International Film Festival[44]Chairman's AwardGeorge Clooney (Also for The Ides of March)Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society[45]Best PictureNominated
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best Actor in a Leading RoleGeorge ClooneyNominated
Best Actress in a Supporting RoleShailene WoodleyNominated
Best Screenplay: AdaptationAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashNominated
Breakthrough Performance on CameraShailene WoodleyNominated
Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role: FemaleAmara MillerNominated
Producers Guild of America Award[46]Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion PicturesJim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim TaylorNominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards[47]Best EnsembleBeau Bridges, George Clooney, Robert Forster, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Shailene WoodleyNominated
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyNominated
Satellite Awards[48]Best Film – DramaWon
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyNominated
Best Supporting ActressJudy GreerNominated
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim RashWon
Best EditingNominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association[49]Best ActorGeorge ClooneyWon
Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim RashWon
Best FilmNominated
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyNominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Abrams, Rachel (September 7, 2011). "'Descendants' gets earlier bow: Clooney starrer beats Thanksgiving glut with Nov. 18 rollout". Variety. Archived from the original on September 15, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Descendants (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 27, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Box office business for The Descendants". IMDB. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  4. ^ "The Descendants (2011)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved February 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Bailey, Cameron. "Special Presentation: 'The Descendants': Alexander Payne". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on September 15, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  6. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (March 15, 2010). "Alexander Payne's 'The Descendants' Begins Shooting". Filmmaker. Archived from the original on March 23, 2010. Retrieved October 29, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Fox Searchlight Pictures, Production Notes, The Descendants.
  8. ^ Cooper, Jeanne (November 17, 2011). "'The Descendants' author highlights Hawaii's less-exotic side". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  9. ^ Fischbach, Bob (July 18, 2010). "Payne busy editing Hawaii family drama". Omaha World Herald. Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2010. 
  10. ^ Lambert, Christine (2011). "The Descendant premiere photos – 36th Toronto International Film Festival". DigitalHit.com. Retrieved January 3, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Release Date Moves: Searchlight's 'The Descendants', CBS Films' 'The Woman In Black'". Deadline.com. July 28, 2011. Archived from the original on September 15, 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2011. 
  12. ^ "The Descendants". Fox Searchlight Pictures. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2010. 
  13. ^ "'The Descendants' Soundtrack Announced". FilmMusicReporter.com. October 9, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011. 
  14. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=descendents.htm
  15. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_descendants_2011/
  16. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/movie/the-descendants
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  18. ^ Hornaday, Ann (December 10, 2011). "ann-hornadays-best-films-of-2011". The Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  19. ^ Travers, Peter (December 8, 2011). "10 Best Movies of 2011: The Descendendants". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  20. ^ Paras, Peter (December 16, 2011). "Top 10 Movies of 2011". E! Online. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Nominees for the 84th Academy Awards". Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Ganadores de la edición 2012 del Premio Sur" (in Spanish). Argentine Academy of Cinematography Arts and Sciences Awards. 
  23. ^ "'Bridesmaids,' 'Tree of Life,' 'Hugo' in AFI's top 10 films of 2011". Los Angeles Times. December 11, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  24. ^ Kilday, Gregg (January 3, 2012). "Art Directors Nominate Movies as Different as 'Harry Potter' and 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  25. ^ "AACTA Awards winners and nominees". Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). January 31, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  26. ^ Pond, Steve (December 11, 2011). "Martin Scorsese Named Best Director by Boston Film Critics". The Wrap. Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Casting Society of America Announces Artios Awards Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. August 20, 2012. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  28. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (January 2, 2012). "'Tree of Life' leads the way with Central Ohio critics nominations". HitFix. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) - 2011 Awards". cofca.org. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Tree of Life Leads CFCA Nominations with 7; Descendants, Drive Follow with 6". Chicago Film Critics Association. 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 
  31. ^ "CFCA Names Tree of Life Best Picture". Chicago Film Critics Association. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 
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  35. ^ "Florida Film Critics swoon for 'The Descendants'". The Miami Herald. December 19, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 
  36. ^ David Germain (December 15, 2011). "The Artist Leads 2011 Golden Globe Nominations With Six Bids". Time. Associated Press. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  37. ^ Brooks, Brian (December 6, 2012). "'The Hunger Games' And 'The Muppets' Top Grammy Awards Movie Nominees". Movieline. PMC. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
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  46. ^ "PGA ANNOUNCES THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURE AND LONG-FORM TELEVISION NOMINATIONS FOR 2012 PGA AWARDS". producersguild.org. January 3, 2011. Retrieved January 5, 2011. 
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External links[edit]