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20. "The Descendants"
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Beau Bridges, Robert Forester, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer
Why: Payne's long awaited return to the big screen was well worth it. His adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings' novel earned five Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Director and it earned him and co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash the adapted screenplay award. You could also argue it features George Clooney's best performance to date and proved that Shailene Woodley was clearly more talented than she'd shown on her cable TV show. Most importantly, it further cemented Payne's voice as one of America's truly special cinematic voices. After watching "The Descendants" it's hard to imagine anyone else having the skill to balance this delicate a mix of comedy and drama.
- Gregory Ellwood