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.
Teaser poster
Directed byAlexander Payne
Produced byJim Burke
Alexander Payne
Jim Taylor
Screenplay byAlexander Payne
Nat Faxon
Jim Rash
Based onThe Descendants 
by Kaui Hart Hemmings
StarringGeorge Clooney
Shailene Woodley
Beau Bridges
Judy Greer
Matthew Lillard
Robert Forster
CinematographyPhedon Papamichael
Editing byKevin Tent
StudioAd Hominem Enterprises
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • September 10, 2011 (2011-09-10) (Toronto)
  • November 18, 2011 (2011-11-18) (United States[1])
Running time115 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$20 million[3]
Box office$177,243,185[4]
 
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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.
Teaser poster
Directed byAlexander Payne
Produced byJim Burke
Alexander Payne
Jim Taylor
Screenplay byAlexander Payne
Nat Faxon
Jim Rash
Based onThe Descendants 
by Kaui Hart Hemmings
StarringGeorge Clooney
Shailene Woodley
Beau Bridges
Judy Greer
Matthew Lillard
Robert Forster
CinematographyPhedon Papamichael
Editing byKevin Tent
StudioAd Hominem Enterprises
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • September 10, 2011 (2011-09-10) (Toronto)
  • November 18, 2011 (2011-11-18) (United States[1])
Running time115 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$20 million[3]
Box office$177,243,185[4]

The Descendants is a 2011 American comedy-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]

Matt King (George Clooney) is a Honolulu-based attorney and the sole trustee of a family trust that controls 25,000 acres of pristine land on the island of Kauai—land that is not only of great monetary value, but of distinct cultural value as well. Though he has been able to manage his money, most of Matt's cousins are broke from squandering their share of the inheritance. The trust will expire in seven years because of the rule against perpetuities, so the King family has decided to sell the land to Kaua'i native Don Holitzer for development. Just before family members are ready to formally endorse the deal, a boating accident near Waikīkī renders Matt's wife, Elizabeth, comatose.

The Kings have two daughters, 17-year-old Alex (Shailene Woodley) and 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller). With Elizabeth in a coma at Queen's Hospital, he is forced to confront Scottie's inappropriate behavior with other children and Alex's destructive ways. Matt learns that Elizabeth will never awaken from her coma, which means that under the terms of her living will she must be disconnected shortly from life support. When Matt tells Alex the news, she reveals that Elizabeth was having an affair at the time of the accident, which has caused a major rift between mother and daughter.

One of Matt's friends, Kai Mitchell, says that Elizabeth had planned to leave Matt for her lover; later, Kai's husband, Mark, tells him that the man is named Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard). Matt decides to find Brian and convince him to visit Elizabeth while she is still alive, learning that he is a real estate agent currently vacationing in Kauai. After telling the family of Elizabeth's terminal prognosis, Matt, along with the girls and Alex's slacker friend Sid (Nick Krause), travel to Kauai. During a jog on a beach, Matt recognizes Brian and follows him to a cottage owned by Matt's cousin, Hugh (Beau Bridges). Hugh tells him that Brian is Holitzer's brother-in-law, and if Matt and his family sell their land to Holitzer, Brian stands to gain a lot of money from commissions when it is developed.

Later that evening, Matt and Alex return to Brian's cottage and, while Alex distracts Brian's wife Julie (Judy Greer), Matt finally confronts Brian and tells him about his wife's condition. Brian says that while Elizabeth loved him, the affair was only a fling for him, and he loves his wife and family. He tells Matt he is sorry for the pain he caused.

Matt, Scottie, Alex and Sid return home. At Matt's request, at the hospital, Scottie is finally told of her mother's impending death by a grief counselor, allowing her, too, to begin her process of farewell.

After Elizabeth is disconnected, her father, Scott (Robert Forster), together with his wife and son, comes to the hospital to say his last goodbyes. He accuses Matt of not having been a more generous and loving husband to Elizabeth, whom he describes as a good and faithful wife. Matt agrees with him, choosing not to disclose the details of her affair. Sid and Alex both unexpectedly come to Matt's defense.

Matt meets with his cousins to vote on the fate of the land. The majority vote in favor of selling to Holitzer, but Matt has second thoughts and decides to keep the land and find a different solution. Shocked, Hugh tells Matt that he and the other cousins may take legal action, but Matt is undeterred.

Brian's wife Julie, after learning of the affair and realizing that Brian will not visit Elizabeth, comes to the hospital, partly feeling that decency obliges her to. She tearfully admits to Elizabeth that she wants to hate her for destroying her family, but that she forgives her.

Alone by his wife's hospital bed after Julie leaves, Matt finally comes to terms with his wife's act of treachery, and tenderly kisses her goodbye. He is followed by Alex and Scottie.

Matt, Alex, and Scottie scatter Elizabeth's ashes in the ocean off Waikiki. The film closes with the three curled up on the living room couch, eating ice cream, and watching March of the Penguins while sharing the quilt that was on Elizabeth's death bed.

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.

Post-production began on June 14, and continued into February 2011.[8] It screened at the Telluride, Toronto[9] 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[10] and then November 18, 2011.[1][11]

The soundtrack uses Hawaiian music, featuring artists including Gabby Pahinui, Ray Kane, Keola Beamer, Lena Machado, Sonny Chillingworth, Jeff Peterson, and Reverend Dennis Kamakahi.[12]

Reception[edit]

The Descendants received positive reviews upon release. On Rotten Tomatoes it scored an approval rating of 89% based on 234 reviews.[13] The website's consensus is: "Funny, moving, and beautifully acted, The Descendants captures the unpredictable messiness of life with eloquence and uncommon grace." On Metacritic, the film scored an 84 based on 43 critics.[14]

Roger Ebert gave the film a perfect four star rating.[15] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone also gave the film a four star rating.[16]

Top ten lists[edit]

The film 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
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Argentina 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
Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film[32]Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyNominated
Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashWon
Critics' Choice Movie Awards[33]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[34]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[35]Best FilmNominated
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyNominated
Breakthrough PerformanceShailene WoodleyNominated
Florida Film Critics Circle[36]Best PictureWon
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyWon
Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashWon
Golden Globe Awards[37]Best Picture – DramaWon
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best Actor – DramaGeorge ClooneyWon
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyNominated
Best ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim RashNominated
Grammy Awards[38]Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual MediaNominated
Independent Spirit Awards[39]Best FilmNominated
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best Supporting FemaleShailene WoodleyWon
Best ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashWon
Los Angeles Film Critics Association[40]Best FilmWon
Best ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashNominated
MTV Movie Awards[41]Best Breakthrough PerformanceShailene WoodleyWon
National Board of Review[42]Top 10 FilmsWon
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyWon
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyWon
Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashWon
New York Film Critics Online[43]Best ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim RashWon
Online Film Critics Society[44]Best PictureNominated
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyNominated
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyNominated
Best Adapted ScreenplayNominated
Palm Springs International Film Festival[45]Chairman's AwardGeorge Clooney (Also for The Ides of March)Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society[46]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[47]Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion PicturesJim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim TaylorNominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards[48]Best EnsembleBeau Bridges, George Clooney, Robert Forster, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Shailene WoodleyNominated
Best ActorGeorge ClooneyNominated
Satellite Awards[49]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[50]Best ActorGeorge ClooneyWon
Best Adapted ScreenplayAlexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim RashWon
Best FilmNominated
Best DirectorAlexander PayneNominated
Best Supporting ActressShailene WoodleyNominated

Home media[edit]

Two home video formats of The Descendants were released March 13, 2012:[citation needed] a one-disc standard DVD and a two disc Blu-ray combo pack (Blu-ray + DVD + digital copy).

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. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Lambert, Christine (2011). "The Descendant premiere photos – 36th Toronto International Film Festival". DigitalHit.com. Retrieved January 3, 2012. 
  10. ^ "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. 
  11. ^ "The Descendants". Fox Searchlight Pictures. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2010. 
  12. ^ "'The Descendants' Soundtrack Announced". FilmMusicReporter.com. October 9, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011. 
  13. ^ "The Descendants (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  14. ^ The Descendants at Metacritic
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Descendants". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  16. ^ Travers, Peter (November 15, 2011). "The Descendants". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 21, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Dietz, Jason (December 8, 2011). "2011 Film Critic Top Ten Lists (Updated Dec. 22)". Metacritic. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  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). Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Argentina 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. 
  32. ^ "THE ARTIST leads the pack of nominations for the 18th annual Chlotrudis Awards". Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film. 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  33. ^ "17th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards (2012)". Critics' Choice Awards. December 13, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Denver Film Critics Society Announces 2012 Award Winners". Yahoo! Movies. January 11, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  35. ^ "The 2011 Detroit Film Critics Society Awards". Detroitfilmcritics.com. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Florida Film Critics swoon for 'The Descendants'". The Miami Herald. December 19, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 
  37. ^ David Germain (December 15, 2011). "The Artist Leads 2011 Golden Globe Nominations With Six Bids". Time. Associated Press. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  38. ^ Brooks, Brian (December 6, 2012). "'The Hunger Games' And 'The Muppets' Top Grammy Awards Movie Nominees". Movieline. PMC. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  39. ^ ""Take Shelter" and "The Artist" Lead Spirit Award Nominations | Filmmakers, Film Industry, Film Festivals, Awards & Movie Reviews". indieWIRE. November 8, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  40. ^ "LAFCA". LAFCA. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  41. ^ Prinzivalli, Fallon (June 3, 2012). "Shailene Woodley Takes Breakthrough Performance At MTV Movie Awards". MTV. Retrieved June 3, 2012. 
  42. ^ Nessman, Ravi (December 1, 2011). "Scorsese's 'Hugo' Named Best Film By NBR Awards – From the Wires". Salon.com. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  43. ^ Pond, Steve (December 11, 2011). "'The Artist' Wins Another: NY Film Critics Online". Reuters. Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  44. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (December 26, 2011). "'Tree of Life' leads with 7 nods from Online Film Critics Society". HitFix. 
  45. ^ Pond, Steve (November 18, 2012). "Clooney gets Palm Springs film festival Chairman's award". Reuters. Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  46. ^ "2011 Award Nominations". Phoenix Film Critics Society. December 27, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  47. ^ "PGA ANNOUNCES THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURE AND LONG-FORM TELEVISION NOMINATIONS FOR 2012 PGA AWARDS". producersguild.org. January 3, 2011. Retrieved January 5, 2011. 
  48. ^ "'The Help' leads with four SAG Awards nominations". Goldderby.com. December 14, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  49. ^ "2011 Winners | International Press Academy". Pressacademy.com. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  50. ^ "2011 WAFCA Awards – The Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA)". Dcfilmcritics.com. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 

External links[edit]