Is George Clooney Sooo Enroute to Another Oscar?

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Who saw The Descendants? Who is positive George Clooney will be nominated for an Academy Award and will most likely win it? As long as that French guy from The Artist doesn’t prevail, it should be smooth sailing for George. And deservedly so.

Caught a double feature yesterday, largely because sitting quietly in a theater for four hours is the perfect antidote to sitting through holiday relatives for thirty-six hours. Not that I don’t love holidays and the family members they attract, but it’s just fun to be somewhere and tune out. The whole forgetting-where-you –are thing of an afternoon can be ultra-restorative.

Like, say, watching The Descendants, which is a rollicking good film starring George Clooney. It’s been around for almost a month, and while it features no car chases or tattoos or gunplay, if and when you do go see it you may be every bit as riveted by its quiet drama as I was. And by Clooney’s totally searing performance as a father and husband whose wife lies comatose in a hospital following a life-threatening accident. Who must navigate his two young daughters through the aftermath of tragedy, and who must confront a few unknown forces that crop up while his wife’s still in the hospital. The guy who directed it, Alexander Payne, hasn’t made a ton of films but the ones he has made are quite thought-provoking and include Election and About Schmidt.

Twenty-year old Shailene Woodley will probably also be a big awards contender this year, having turned in a pitch perfect performance as Clooney’s emotionally exhausted (but canny) daughter. We’re already seeing Golden Globes nominations for this film everywhere, and it’s no wonder why. Plus smaller contributions from folks like Beau Bridges and Robert Forster make the whole thing just a little more splendid.  If you’re on the fence about a George Clooney movie that doesn’t take place in a casino, fear not. This is a little movie that takes place on Hawaii and everyone in it is totally relatable – and still they behave unexpectedly. There’s a humanity here that’s rare. The story is fascinating, and with Clooney at its delicious and heartbreaking center  – always bedecked in floral shirts and scion of an old Hawaiian family – it’s amazing how something so simple and slice-of-life-y can be so captivating. I was pretty knocked out by this film. It’s sole drawback, like almost every other fall/winter movie I’ve seen (with the exception of Carnage)? It could have been about ten minutes shorter. But that’s a teensy issue compared to the fantastic storytelling that goes on here. I can name very few films that couldn’t benefit from a ten-minute cropping.  Nor is Clooney too anything – he owns the screen (because he is after all, George Clooney) but he’s also gripped by a level of fear, doubt, suspicion and anxiety not always seen in matinee idols. The movie’s also really, really funny.

If you’re hoping to catch something this week that’s powerful but derring-do-free, you might want to check out The Descendants. It’s that good.

Today’s poll:

Alexander Payne directed The Descendants. Which of Payne’s other projects is your favorite:

1)   Sideways

2)   About Schmidt

3)   Election

4)   Citizen Ruth

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