Writer-director Alexander Payne, the critically acclaimed king of uncomfortable comedies ("Sideways," "About Schmidt," "Election") returns this Oscar season with Academy Award-winner George Clooney ("Syriana," "Michael Clayton,""Up in the Air") in "The Descendants."

The new trailer shows Matt King (Clooney) in domestic turmoil, trying to raise two petulant daughters on his own after his wife slips into a coma, with a startling secret revealed soon afterward.

Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, the film also stars Matthew Lillard (remember the first "Scream"?) and Shailene Woodley, but is clearly being positioned as a serio-comic showcase for Clooney's formidable acting chops.

Earlier this month, Fox Searchlight launched a website featuring a short, intriguing look at the film that showcases its Hawaiian locales.

Think another Oscar nom is in Clooney's future? Watch the trailer and see what you think.

"The Descendants" will be released December 16.

Dave Lewis has been a Los Angeles-based entertainment writer and editor for nearly ten years. Originally hailing from Minneapolis, he moved to L.A. in 1996 to attend USC, before working for various periodicals and web sites including a lengthy stint at Variety.com. He joined the HitFix staff in 2011.