Is George Clooney's Performance In The Descendants Really Oscar-Worthy?

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Nov. 24 2011, Updated 7:24 a.m. ET

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In what may be the best movie of the year, George Clooney stars in The Descendants, a Hawaii-set dramedy by Alexander Payne (Sideways).

Clooney plays a lawyer who learns his wife will never recover from the coma she's fallen into following a boating accident. But as he tries to figure out how to break this fact to his daughters, he has to adjust to some other news: His wife was having an affair and contemplating leaving him.

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Issues of life, death and love don't seem like material for a comedy, but Payne and Clooney find the humor within the tragedy. Not that this movie won’t bring tears, but you'll be laughing and crying.

Clooney gives an Oscar-worthy performance as a man torn between his raw feelings, his duty to his daughters and an impending decision about a long-standing family trust. And the young actresses who play his daughters — Amara Miller and Shailene Woodley — are outstanding.

LONG STORY SHORT: It's one of the essential movies of the year.

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